5/22/2013 10:14 P.M. ET
Nats return home from West Coast at perfect time
By Alex Espinoza / Special to MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals might have finished a 10-game West Coast road trip barely above the .500 mark with a 24-23 record, but a four-game losing streak that ended with Wednesday's 10th-inning win had begun wearing on the team, which many pegged as a World Series contender.
And with spirits high after a 2-1 win on getaway day in San Francisco, manager Davey Johnson believes he has good control of the clubhouse.
"I hope so," Johnson said. "Otherwise, I would recommend they fire me. But this ballclub has great makeup, they get along together."
"It's going to be a good flight back home," said Gio Gonzalez, who was impressive over seven-plus innings in the finale.
Following six straight losing seasons, the Nationals went 98-64 to win the National League East in 2012, becoming a popular pick to repeat entering 2013. Johnson said he isn't worried about his young ballclub, saying this is part of the process of having heightened expectations.
"It goes hand in hand," Johnson said. "The good news is that everyone is now learning how to be considered a very good ballclub and knowing that we know how to win ballgames. We hate to lose. Losing eats at us, and this is part of it. It's not like we're reinventing the wheel here, this is what you go through. This is how you mature."
When looking at the team's shortcomings this year, it's easy to point at the offense. The Nationals' team average sits at .225, which was the second worst in baseball entering Wednesday's play. But the long-time skipper sounded optimistic that his team would turn it around, though two runs in the finale were hardly an offensive outburst.
"We've got too many outs in the lineup," Johnson said. "That's very hard to get some momentum going on your offense. We're certainly very capable. It's going to happen soon enough. Never soon enough for me or never soon enough for the media."
Davey downplays any tension between Harper, Soriano
SAN FRANCISCO -- Bryce Harper was quick to take the blame for Tuesday night's 4-2 loss, in which he misplayed a deep, ninth-inning fly ball that drove in the game-tying run for the Giants. Reliever Rafael Soriano apparently felt that Harper should receive the blame, as well.
Soriano, who gave up the game-tying triple to Gregor Blanco and fell short of his 13th save of the year, told USA Today following the game that Harper could have been in better position to make the play.
"With two outs and the tying run at first, you have to play the outfield, so the ball doesn't go over your head,'' Soriano told USA Today. "It may not have been a catch-able ball, but if we're positioned the right way, there might have been a different outcome. With two outs, I could tell my 4-year-old son, 'You know where you need to play,' and he would have positioned himself better. It's not an excuse, and I'm not speaking badly about anybody, but I think that's how you play the game."
By Wednesday morning, manager Davey Johnson had read the comments.
"He [Harper] might have been out of position a couple of feet or so, but that's just part of it," Johnson said. "I don't know what the big deal is about it. He was voicing frustrations a lot of us feel. Did he go a little too far? Maybe."
Before Wednesday's matinee, Soriano spoke to Harper to clear the air. The skipper also approached Soriano and told him the team needs veteran leadership, especially with Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth away from the team while dealing with injuries.
"Let's not panic here and overreact to the situation," Johnson said. "Pitch wasn't as good as it should have been, and maybe [Harper] wasn't as deep as he should have been. That's baseball. We could second guess everything that goes on in this game. I know a little bit more about it than most and I'm not concerned with it."
It had been eight days since Harper crashed full-speed into the right-field wall in Los Angeles, trying to track down a fly ball and resulting in a hard collision that caused the young slugger to miss time. Harper acknowledged he was "absolutely" thinking about the play in Los Angeles as he tried to track down Blanco's blast, something Johnson didn't take issue with.
"I don't blame him for that," Johnson said. "He's only human. You know what would make him superhuman? I would be afraid, too, if I had 15 stitches on my chin, bruises on my shoulder and my knee all puffed up."
• Johnson said he doesn't expect Ramos (hamstring) to return from the 15-day disabled list when eligible next week.
"It's going to take him longer," Johnson said. "Any time you injure the hamstring the second time, it takes longer."
• Werth won't start baseball activities for at least another seven days days as he rehabs from a strained hamstring, according to Johnson.
"He needs to be on the rest period," Johnson said. "You would think he knows better than that. He's been pushing it to get back and he needs to rest it."
• Ross Detwiler, who missed a scheduled start Monday night with an oblique strain, still has some hurdles to pass until he's cleared for his next start Tuesday against the Orioles. Johnson said Detwiler has to play catch and run Wednesday, before making it through bullpen sessions on Thursday and Saturday without incident.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.