Johnson shakes up Nationals' lineup

Johnson shakes up Nationals' lineup

Johnson shakes up Nationals' lineup
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson overhauled the lineup for Saturday's Interleague game against the Orioles in the hopes of finding a spark for his team's struggling offense.

Steve Lombardozzi took over the leadff spot for Ian Desmond, who dropped to fifth in the order. Danny Espinosa, who is batting .209 on the season, was out of the lineup. The Nationals are averaging 3.9 runs per game this month and are 9-8.

"I just needed to shake it up," Johnson said. "I felt like the offense is sputtering a little bit. Sometimes when you're sputtering a bit, change clears the air."

Desmond spoke to Johnson earlier in the week and said he does not have to be locked in at the leadoff spot. By moving down in the lineup, Desmond could have more opportunities with runners on base.

"He's driven in some big runs last year and this year hitting in the one-hole," Johnson said."His RBI numbers would be better if he was in more of a run-producing role. I also liked to swap him basically with [Bryce] Harper. I like Harper's energy, too, and I want to give him more at-bats."

In the seventh inning of Friday's game, Harper singled and then Espinosa was asked to bunt him into scoring position. However, Espinosa struck out when his bunt attempt went foul with two strikes, stalling any type of rally. Espinosa could find his way back into the lineup for the series finale on Sunday, Johnson said.

"I just felt like he's struggling a little bit," Johnson said. "He had two strikes [last night] and he bunted on his own. I just sense a little frustration there. He's a heck of a talent."