Some minor tension set in among the Washington Nationals and their fans over the weekend after the team saw its lead in the National League East cut to 4.5 games following a graceless sweeping at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Following Sunday's 4-1 loss, reporters outside the clubhouse overheard manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo taking their frustration out on each other verbally. As CSN Washington's Mark Zuckerman put it,
Do you honestly think Johnson and Rizzo have never gotten into an argument before? Do you know anything about these two men? Each is an emotional, competitive, baseball lifer with strong opinions and supreme confidence in how he performs his job. Frankly, it would be more concerning if they never raised their voice at each other.
Meanwhile, Nationals rightfielder Jayson Werth gave Johnson a vote of confidence in this off-day piece by MLB.com's Bill Ladson. To wit:
"Between last year and this year, it's night and day," Werth said. "Just the whole atmosphere in the clubhouse. You have an iconic manager that really knows how to handle this team. If we still had a guy like Riggleman as the manager, I don't think the team is where it's at."
Asked why he felt that way, Werth said, "You have a guy [in Johnson] that is confident in himself and in his players. That alone can go a long way. ... Being a big league player for so long, being a big league manager for so long, Davey has a real good feel [for the game]."
That would former Nationals manager Jim Riggleman Werth is referencing. You remember, the guy who resigned in a huff last summer when he appeared to be in a lame-duck situation?
For the record, this piece was ostensibly about the struggling Nationals offense. We think that not having to face Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee on back-to-back days might just be part of the cure for what ails them.