ST. LOUIS -- Nationals infielder Steve Lombardozzi is having a good year off the bench. While he was hitting .259 with two home runs and 21 RBIs entering Tuesday's action, Lombardozzi was 13-for-43 (.302) and tied with Phillies infielder Kevin Frandsen for the National League lead in pinch-hits.
Manager Davey Johnson said Lombardozzi is more aggressive at the plate this year than last, but needs to tone it down because Johnson wants to see Lombardozzi raise his on-base percentage, which was at .279 before Tuesday's game in St. Louis.
"He has been the mainstay on the bench. It's a tough job. He has handled it very well mentally. He has been my best pinch-hitter all year long," Johnson said. "Everybody else has been nonexistent. I was hoping it was the strong point going in ... that we would get a lot of production off the bench, because that's where you win a lot of ballgames."
Asked if Lombardozzi is in position to win a starting job at second base for the Nationals, Johnson seemed to think that the second-year player is better suited for the bench. Johnson has mentioned that Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon could battle for the starting job next Spring Training.
"[Lombardozzi] is invaluable doing what he does. Not many people can do that," Johnson said. "He can be a regular on a lot of clubs and playing every day at second base."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less