WASHINGTON -- Reds infielder/outfielder Willie Harris is not surprised the Nationals are off to a great start. Entering Sunday's action, Washington was 7-2 and in first place in the National League East.
Harris said it helps that the Nationals have added a leader in the clubhouse in Mark DeRosa, and an experienced bench.
"They have the role players on the bench. Those guys are solid doing it -- DeRosa, [Xavier] Nady, [Roger] Bernadina if you need somebody to steal a base. They have a great team. They designed it well. It's going to be exciting to see those guys. I just wish them the best. Hopefully, they will continue to play well."
Harris also credits manager Davey Johnson for the good camaraderie in the Nationals' clubhouse.
"He has been in the game for a long time. He can look at a player and tell if they are in the game or spaced out somewhere," Harris said. "He has an edge over some managers. He and [Reds manager] Dusty Baker are pretty much the same managers. They are both icons. Davey knows what he is doing over there. He just a great guy to talk to, and great guy to be around. Those guys love playing for him. You can see it."
Harris knows the Nationals well. He played for the Nationals from 2008-10 and was considered one of the better bench players they've had in recent years.
Storen looking forward to rejoining 'pen
WASHINGTON -- Entering Sunday's action, the Nationals' bullpen had a 1.98 ERA with two saves. The bullpen will be even better once closer Drew Storen returns from his right elbow injury.
After getting a bone chip removed from his right elbow this past week, Storen is not expected back until right before the All-Star break.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Storen said about his return. "The tough part is that it's not easy being patient and seeing those guys have so much fun. But it's good being around it and seeing how much fun they are having. It's definitely a lot of fun to watch."
Nats pay homage on Jackie Robinson Day
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals took part in a league-wide celebration of Jackie Robinson Day by honoring the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. Before the game, the Nationals had a trivia show with fans about Robinson.
The team also recognized the Jackie Robinson Scholars program prior to the series finale against the Reds.
Robinson was the first player to break baseball's color barrier and bring the Negro Leagues' electrifying style of play to the big leagues in 1947. He quickly became one of the game's top draws, most daring baserunner and a symbol of hope to millions of Americans. The Brooklyn Dodgers won six pennants in Robinson's 10 seasons, and he was named National League Most Valuable Player in 1949. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Because the league-wide tribute officially took place Sunday, the anniversary of Robinson's barrier-breaking debut, all Nationals players wore Robinson's No. 42.
Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson is one person who appreciates what Robinson did for him.
"He is the reason we are able to play today," Jackson said. "Without him, who knows where we would be in the game, how long it would have taken to open up doors for African Americans to play baseball. To endure the things he endured, all the death threats, everybody hated him, he still continued to play. It says a lot."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.