WASHINGTON -- During the end of last season and this past offseason, Nationals manager Davey Johnson often talked about how he wanted to overhaul the bench -- and for good reason. Pinch-hitters, which included players such as Alex Cora, Jonny Gomes and Ivan Rodriguez, hit a combined .188 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 2011.
So far, this year's bench is a different story, with the likes of Chad Tracy, Xavier Nady and Mark DeRosa all contributing. Entering Saturday's action, pinch-hitters were hitting .231 [3-for-13] with a home run and four RBIs. One of those RBIs was a game-winner by Tracy against the Cubs last Saturday.
"It's not a secret that I love my bench this year compared to last year," Johnson said. "It kind of mimics the whole ballclub. The potential is there. It's just a matter of time. [Already], I think I had more production [from the bench] than in the three months I was here last year.
"Tracy got some good hits for us coming off the bench. [Friday] was a big hit. A lot of the guys, even [Stephen Lombardozzi], have gotten hits to help us win ballgames. Last year, groundout, ball four, hit batter. I think [this year's team] feels that we have some ammunition sitting on the bench. [If I make double switches], my offense won't miss a beat."
Asked why this year's bench is superior to last year's bench, Nady said, "We have some guys who have been around for a while. They have done everything. DeRosa has played the infield, outfield. Tracy has done everything himself. He has been to Japan. You play this game long enough, you experience a lot, you go through a lot.
"There are a lot of ups and downs. In all, you hope it makes you a better player down the road. You get thrown into situations like this, you feel like you are more prepared."