MIAMI -- Since the calendar flipped to July, the Nationals have been the most aggressive team in the Majors on the basepaths -- and manager Davey Johnson is thrilled by it.
"I like it, putting pressure on defenses," Johnson said.
It's early in the month, but already in eight July contests, Washington has swiped 16 bags as a team while getting caught stealing twice (an 89 percent success rate). During their last two games, the Nationals have stolen eight bases, including two in Friday's 5-1 series-opening win at Marlins Park.
While Johnson embraces his team putting pressure on the opposing team's defense, he also pointed to how his team has done so in a smart way. Specifically, Johnson lauded rookie Bryce Harper for reaching second by stretching a single for two bases on a fielding error, and then swiping third while Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes and third baseman Hanley Ramirez had their heads down between at-bats.
Johnson just hopes his team, which hasn't stolen more than 20 bases in a month this season, keeps applying that pressure on opponents.
"No question about it," Johnson said. "We're going to be aggressive, but not overly aggressive."
Burnett has elbow tightness, but Nats optimistic
MIAMI -- Sean Burnett wasn't available out of the bullpen for the Nationals on Saturday due to tightness in his throwing elbow, but Nationals manager Davey Johnson expects the southpaw to be ready to go Sunday.
Burnett felt tightness in his left elbow following his appearance in Friday night's 5-1 win over the Marlins. The lefty threw one-third of an inning in relief, striking out the only batter he faced.
Johnson was originally concerned early Saturday that the tightness could land Burnett on the disabled list, but after Burnett played catch prior to Washington's 2-1 loss to Miami, Johnson sounded optimistic about the lefty's status.
"I think he'll be available [Sunday]," Johnson said. "That's my gut feeling."
Following the game, Johnson said team doctors prescribed medication to Burnett to help ease the tightness and inflammation in his elbow. That medication, Johnson hopes, will prevent the team from having to place Burnett on the DL.
"He should be fine," Johnson said. "Fortunately we didn't need him [Saturday]."
Burnett, who had Tommy John surgery early in his career, said he has dealt with some minor issues with his elbow this season, but hopes the current hitch is just "random tightness." The lefty has been valuable for the Nationals out of the bullpen, sporting a 1.97 ERA in 39 appearances this season as the club's setup man.
"Hopefully there is no story," Burnett said before the game. "That's the key."
Nats encouraged by Wang's first rehab outing
MIAMI -- After a trip home to Taiwan during the All-Star break, Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang made his first rehab appearance Friday night for Double-A Harrisburg.
Wang, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 3 with a right hip strain, started and pitched four innings for the Senators in the first game of a doubleheader against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The righty gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits, facing 19 batters before being pulled in the fifth en route to a loss in a 4-0 affair.
Despite the result, Wang displayed good command as he struck out three and didn't surrender a walk. He threw 54 pitches, with 42 finding the strike zone.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson was pleased by the reports he got following Wang's start.
"He threw the ball pretty good," Johnson said. "He didn't have a very good defense behind him. They missed a few balls, but other than that, we were encouraged as a first outing."
Wang struggled with a 2-3 record and a 7.61 ERA in seven outings, including four starts, with the Nationals this season. Johnson said the plan is to have Wang throw 65-70 pitches during his next rehab appearance and get the right-hander into a regular rotation in the Minors for the time being.
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.