WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson knows that Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman are struggling. But the skipper made one thing clear before Tuesday's game -- he still believes in them.
In fact, Johnson kept Zimmerman batting third and had Morse in the cleanup spot for Tuesday's series opener with the Rays. Johnson's also spoken with both to reassure the two since he feels they may be pressing a bit.
"I think they're both really good hitters," Johnson said. "[Sometimes] you try to do more. And sometimes more is not better, less is better."
Zimmerman (.229) and Morse (.211) both have battled injury problems. The third baseman (right shoulder inflammation) was on the 15-day disabled list starting in late April, and Johnson said he doesn't believe the injury is still bothering Zimmerman.
In addition, Zimmerman (three homers, 22 RBIs) said he's not going completely rework his swing. He'll just battle to get through the dry spell.
"I'll continue to work and do the stuff I've done my whole career," Zimmerman said. "You tinker with the little things here and there. Baseball is one of those sports where you struggle and then you get a swinging bunt and go 25-for-50. Hopefully that'll happen soon."
Morse missed the first 50 games with a lat strain. He came back June 1 and also experienced trouble at the plate, with no homers and four RBIs in his first 14 games.
The outfielder was so concerned about his own performance that he came to Johnson after Sunday's loss to the Yankees and asked to be moved down in the lineup since he was "killing" the team. Johnson waved him off.
"I [said], 'I'm not worried so I don't want you to worry,'" Johnson said. "Basically the same [thing] ... with Zim. I know the ability's there. I'm not worried."
In Tuesday's 5-4 loss, Morse hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot off Rays starter David Price. Zimmerman went 1-for-4 with a run scored.
"I thought [Morse] swung the bat good, and I thought Zim swung the bat good," Johnson said.
-- Jeff Seidel