9/24/2013 7:59 P.M. ET
Johnson says Lombo's been 'best' off bench
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Nationals infielder Steve Lombardozzi is having a good year off the bench. While he was hitting .259 with two home runs and 21 RBIs entering Tuesday's action, Lombardozzi was 13-for-43 (.302) and tied with Phillies infielder Kevin Frandsen for the National League lead in pinch-hits.
Manager Davey Johnson said Lombardozzi is more aggressive at the plate this year than last, but needs to tone it down because Johnson wants to see Lombardozzi raise his on-base percentage, which was at .279 before Tuesday's game in St. Louis.
"He has been the mainstay on the bench. It's a tough job. He has handled it very well mentally. He has been my best pinch-hitter all year long," Johnson said. "Everybody else has been nonexistent. I was hoping it was the strong point going in ... that we would get a lot of production off the bench, because that's where you win a lot of ballgames."
Asked if Lombardozzi is in position to win a starting job at second base for the Nationals, Johnson seemed to think that the second-year player is better suited for the bench. Johnson has mentioned that Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon could battle for the starting job next Spring Training.
"[Lombardozzi] is invaluable doing what he does. Not many people can do that," Johnson said. "He can be a regular on a lot of clubs and playing every day at second base."
Davey may rest regulars in final series
ST.LOUIS -- A day after the Nationals were eliminated from the National League Wild Card race, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he is thinking about starting some of his bench players when the team gets to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks.
At the same time, Johnson pointed out that some of his regulars are trying to reach certain goals, such as Jayson Werth, who has an outside chance of winning the NL batting title.
But for now, while in St. Louis, Johnson is planning to use his regulars against the Cardinals, who are still fighting for the NL Central Division title.
"I want to give them what's to come, or something," Johnson said.
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.