WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' bench has been historically good, and the thing that excites manager Davey Johnson is that it is likely to soon get better.
The club's pinch-hitters have a .423 on-base percentage this season, the highest mark recorded by a Nationals club since STATS, Inc., began recording pinch-hit stats in 1974.
And with the return of infielder Chad Tracy on the horizon, it could mean even more of a lift off the bench.
Tracy, who is rehabbing with the Class A Potomac Nationals, is working his way back from a torn right groin muscle he suffered on May 26. He is hitting .265 with a .837 OPS this season, with three homers and 12 RBIs. He's 6-for-18 as a pinch-hitter on the year, and nine of his RBIs have come in the pinch.
"I want to get back as soon as possible, and if I feel I can help the team off the bench, I think Davey would want me there," Tracy said.
The bench has fared well in Tracy's absence, with pinch-hitters recording a .292 batting average, with 10 doubles, a triple, two homers, 16 RBIs, 17 walks and 12 runs scored.
Mark DeRosa and Tyler Moore each notched key pinch-hit doubles in Thursday night's 6-5 comeback win against the Giants.
"The bench has been outstanding," Johnson said. "And it's gonna get better when Tracy gets back."