WASHINGTON -- The 2006 season marks the first time since 1999 that Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson hasn't been placed on the disabled list, and he is having one of his better seasons with the bat, hitting .290 with a career-high 18 home runs, 61 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .426 entering Thursday's action. Johnson is on pace to walk 100 times this season.
Johnson says doing his daily exercises is the reason he has been on the field for most of the season.
"We still have a month and a half to go. So far, so good," Johnson said. "I do my stretches every day, trying to keep my lower back and my hamstrings loose. I've been able to go out there every day and play baseball."
But when Johnson is asked to evaluate his season, the one thing he talks about is his defense, which has not been as steady as it was in the past. Johnson has made a career-high nine errors. He acknowledged that maybe he has been too relaxed in the field and has to get in better position.
"My defense hasn't been what I've liked," Johnson said. "But we have a month and a half to go and I will continue to work on that. I just want to get back to the basics -- move my feet a little bit more and try to get my rhythm out there. I have to get the feet moving a little bit better and get in better position."
Trying to make it back: Right-hander John Patterson played catch with head trainer Tim Abraham on Thursday morning. It was the second time participated in baseball activities since having right forearm surgery on July 20. Patterson said that forearm felt stronger and he is throwing every other day.
Injury report: The Nationals placed left-hander Micah Bowie on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 10, with a left latissimus dorsi strain (the shoulder blade region). Bowie has been a pleasant surprise for the Nationals, giving up three runs in 19 2/3 innings.
"The Billy Awards" named him the Nationals' Pitcher of the Month for July.
With Bowie out, the Nationals are hoping to activate second baseman Jose Vidro on Friday. Vidro has missed almost a month with a left hamstring strain.
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Stat of the day: Since the All-Star break, the Nationals' starting staff is 8-2 with a 3.67 ERA entering Thursday's action.
Did you know? The Nationals have employed a Major League-leading 51 players this season. Fifteen of those players have been rookies.
Coming up: The Nationals travel to Philadelphia to play a three-game series against the Phillies starting Friday night at 7:05 p.m. ET. The last time these two teams met was in early June, with Washington taking three out of four games at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. In the season series, the Nationals have won six out of 10 games.
In Game 1 on Friday, right-hander Tony Armas Jr. will take the mound for Washington, while right-hander Brett Myers goes to the hill for Philadelphia.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.