Johnson is calling upon his old pal, Steve Lombardozzi, in hopes of jolting the Nationals offense. (Photos by USA Today Sports)
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- After the Nationals loss Wednesday to the St. Louis Cardinals, manager Davey Johnson was asked about any specific lineup changes he would make for the upcoming series against the Reds.
"Lombo at the top," Johnson mumbled, so inaudibly you could barely hear it.
The thing is Johnson wanted to believe his lineup on paper would last the entire year. He wanted to believe the script he had wrote in March would play itself out in the entire season, with minimal bumps and bruises. But baseball happens.
So Johnson is calling upon his old pal, Steve Lombardozzi, in hopes of jolting the Nationals offense. The 24-year-old utility man is probably the least flashy guy on the roster -- lacking any type of power, boasting average rankings in the speed and defensive categories. But there's no way to argue against Lombardozzi being an unsung hero for last year's Washington Nationals.
In his 58 games manning the top spot of the order, the Nats tore up their competition, posting a 35-23 record (check here on baseball-reference). The slap-hitting Lombardozzi batted .273/.312/.367, with 29 runs scored and 11 doubles. With runners in scoring position and two outs, Lombo raked 16-for-47 (.340) with 16 RBI.
Physically looking at Lombardozzi and analyzing his stats don't
scientifically show that he's an upgrade over anybody in the lineup.
Still, it is a remedy worth taking a look at -- and not just for a few
games. He will provide some familiarity on a team struggling to find its
new identity as top dogs.
What made the Nationals season a special one last year, was that Johnson and Mike Rizzo made some pretty radical moves with their young players, showing their faith. Bryce Harper was called up months before he was expected too. Ross Detwiler being chosen over John Lannan as the fifth starter shocked the local media. And when Lombardozzi was tabbed as the leadoff guy, many were scratching their heads.
In an ideal world, Lombardozzi would start at third base, and Anthony Rendon would slide over to second base. So what happens to Denard Span? He probably moves to second in the order, while Jayson Werth slides down to the five-hole, just before Ian Desmond. Johnson should give Lombardozzi the type of leash he had last season. This gamble could very easily bring new life to the 10-11 Nationals.