Nats move Werth to leadoff, bat pitcher eighth

Nats move Werth to leadoff, bat pitcher eighth

Nats move Werth to leadoff, bat pitcher eighth
SAN DIEGO -- Looking to score more runs on Saturday, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman decided to put right fielder Jayson Werth in the top spot of the lineup, left-hander John Lannan eighth followed by left fielder Brian Bixler. Roger Bernadina was supposed to hit ninth, but was a late scratch because of left hamstring tightness.

There were a couple of reasons for Riggleman's decision. The leadoff spot has been a disaster this season, hitting .209 with a .267 on-base percentage entering Saturday's action. The team's offense also ranked 30th, last in the Major Leagues.

Riggleman has been toying with the idea of Werth at the top spot for several weeks because he leads the team with a .345 on-base percentage. The last time Werth hit leadoff was June 2, 2010 against the Braves.

"The only guy who has a good on-base percentage is Jayson," Riggleman said. "Somebody in that one or two spot has to get on base for us. Jayson has talked about it in recent days. We tossed it around in the coaches' room. It just kind of been hanging there. We have not been a successful offensive ballclub to this point. We have to try something."

Before today's game, Werth has hit second, third and fourth in the lineup.

"I feel comfortable hitting anywhere in the lineup," Werth said. "We need to freshen up the lineup with [Ryan Zimmerman] not being here. We try to mix it up a little bit and see if we can put up a bunch of crooked numbers. You are only leading off the first time."

As far as Bixler hitting ninth, Riggleman took a page from the Tony La Russa school of managing. He looks at Bixler as a second leadoff hitter in case Lannan makes the last out of the inning.

"If we do falter toward the end of the lineup, then our ninth hitter is leading off. It is like another leadoff hitter," Riggleman said.