Johnson sat center fielder Roger Bernadina, shortstop Ian Desmond, catcher Wilson Ramos and right fielder Jayson Werth. All four are slumping, and Johnson wanted to give them a mental break.
Outfielders Jerry Hairston and Rick Ankiel, catcher Jesus Flores and shortstop Alex Cora got the starts instead.
"I still feel I'm putting the best team on the field with a chance to win the ballgame," Johnson said.
Johnson didn't talk to Werth about the day off, because he knew Werth would try to talk him out of it. Knowing that Desmond wanted to talk, Johnson simply told him that he would have the day off. He also informed Ramos that he will start on Thursday, but did not talk to Bernadina.
Johnson reiterated that a lot of his players are working too hard. After the team's West Coast trip, some of the players went to Nationals Park during Monday's off-day to work on their hitting.
"I try to put a damper on all the extra hitting that we do so we don't get worn out," Johnson said. "I had guys wanting to work on their off-day after coming back from California. I said, 'No, no. Get away from it.' This level is 90 percent mental. With the makeup with this ballclub, they take responsibility for us not scoring runs. They have taken it upon themselves to do extra work. When you are mentally driven, that can get worn out."