CHICAGO — The Nationals never thought this would be the case in a season with the highest of expectations, but they are preparing to start looking at more young players over the next six weeks at the expense of a few veteran regulars.
Manager Davey Johnson said he plans to give Tyler Moore more starts at first base down the stretch, perhaps going so far as to platoon the 26-year-old at first base with veteran Adam LaRoche.
"I'm not in the position I'd like to be in, but there is a necessity to look at some guys," Johnson said. "And we'll be doing that. I mentioned the other day that Tyler Moore has to get some at-bats, some regular at-bats. And I'll be doing that with some other guys. I'm not going to go into naming them, because that's gonna happen on a daily basis. It's not gonna be a set plan."
Johnson also said rookie right-hander Tanner Roark could get a chance to move into the rotation, perhaps swapping spots with Ross Ohlendorf, who makes his return from the disabled list tonight.
Roark has excelled out of the bullpen so far, pitching 10 innings without allowing an earned run.
"I see Roark getting an opportunity to start some games," Johnson said.
Rosters are set to expand on September 1, and the Nationals plan to add several players from Class AAA Syracuse, with relievers Ian Krol and Erik Davis and catcher Jhonatan Solano among the likely candidates.
One player who may not finish out the season in Washington, though, is Danny Espinosa, who is still re-working his swing at Syracuse and having little success. In 64 games at Class AAA, Espinosa is hitting .202 with two homers, a .267 on-base percentage and a .544 OPS that is only moderately better than the .465 mark he posted in the majors before his June demotion.
"There have been discussions on that, and right now we're trying to get him back on track," Johnson said. "It's also a reward system when you get called back up. It's a reward on how you did down there, and he's not doing the things I know he's capable of doing. But there's still a little time left. Just have to wait and see."