One potential change could be the insertion of utility player Steve Lombardozzi into the starting lineup at second base. Danny Espinosa rested his fractured right wrist for five games, and Lombardozzi was 6-for-20 (.300) with two doubles and four RBIs as his replacement. The 24-year-old had three hits in two of his past seven starts.
When asked before Thursday's game if Lombardozzi could start at second base, even with a healthy Espinosa, Johnson was noncommittal.
"He's a heck of a player. He's played awfully well," Johnson said. "Again, Danny Espinosa is certainly capable of playing well, too. And I need them all playing well. So we'll see how it goes. See how he handles playing with a hand not 100 percent. And I'll make the decision then."
Johnson said that there was no swelling in Espinosa's wrist after his return to the Nationals' lineup on Wednesday. And after Thursday night's game, Espinosa said that the wrist "feels fine" and that he no longer feels it clicking during at-bats. He is 4-for-41 (.098) in his past 11 games and 1-for-7 since returning to the starting lineup.
Johnson also could insert utility player Jeff Kobernus, who only has one Major League at-bat, into the starting lineup at second base or either corner-outfield spot. Or, perhaps more likely, the Nationals' skipper could shuffle his batting order with hopes that the change will spark the offense.
"Frustration? Yeah, I'm sure there's some frustration. But what are you going to do? Are you going to flip things over and get mad every day?" Espinosa said of the Nationals' recent struggles. "That's not going to do anything. So I think as long as we go in prepared every day and get ready the way we know how to get ready, then it's going to start going our way."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.