By Bob Hurst
Just a few days after Jim Riggleman resigned as manager of the Washington Nationals, Johnson took over as the team’s skipper, losing 4-3 on Monday night to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.
The Nationals are Johnson’s fifth team that he has managed after guiding the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers between 1984 and 2000. He led the Mets to a World Series championship in 1986.
“It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Johnson said of his debut with the Nationals. “It was kind of like flying an airplane. Even if you haven’t flown for a while, you can still get it off the ground and land it.”
Johnson, 68, signed a three-year consulting contract with the Nationals that runs through 2013 and will help the team choose its next manager. He had been a senior adviser for the Nationals since 2009.
Riggleman resigned last Thursday after telling the club that he wanted his contract option to be picked up for 2012, and not getting it. The Nationals had won 11 of 12 and were playing their best baseball of the season when Riggleman resigned.
“It’s been brewing for a while,” Riggleman said. “I know I’m not Casey Stengel, but I do feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s not a situation where I felt like I should continue on such a short leash.
“I’m just not the guy that they thought they could move forward with.”
Riggleman’s contract went through the end of this season and was his third one-year deal with the team since taking over for Manny Acta in July 2009. He went 140-172 with the Nationals.
Day games blinding to Hamilton: Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton prefers to play at night. And his numbers under the lights back him up.
Hamilton went into Tuesday’s night game at Houston batting .377 with seven home runs, 31 RBIs, seven walks, 15 strikeouts and a .415 on-base percentage in 53 at-bats in 26 night games.
Day games are a different story.
Hamilton’s tried sunglasses. On Saturday he wore tinted contact lenses in his first three at-bats, but struck out four times in the Rangers’ 14-5 home loss to the New York Mets. Hamilton said he had a problem with depth perception with the contacts.
He did not play in Sunday’s day game.
In 15 day games this season, Hamilton is batting .113 with no homers, 4 RBIs, eight walks, 21 strikeouts and a .230 on-base percentage. Last season, Hamilton hit .286 during the day and .384 at night.
“It’s just hard for me to see (at the plate) in the daytime,” Hamilton said. “It’s just what it is. Try to go up (to the plate) squinting and see a white ball while the sun is shining right off the plate.”
Hamilton’s vision problem in day games has him in an 0-for-18 slump under natural light. He is 1-for-33 in day games since his return from the disabled list on May 23.
Hamilton recently found a pair of sunglasses that he used last season, and will try those as well as get help from the Rangers in finding a solution.
Cruz walks, strikes out in same at-bat: One of the most important things taught to baseball players is to know what the situation is. Somehow, everyone but the scoreboard operator didn’t know what was going on during a second-inning at-bat by Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
Cruz received ball four on a 3-2 count, but continued his at-bat. Home plate umpire Mike DiMuro didn’t award Cruz first base. Rangers manager Ron Washington wasn’t aware that it was ball four. Neither were his coaches or players.
“I ended up realizing that after the fact,” Washington said. “The umpire didn’t realize it, Cruz didn’t realize it. So there were three dummies out there during that play.”
DiMuro apologized to Cruz in his next at-bat.
“A walk is better than a strikeout,” Cruz said. “What can you do? It’s over. You can’t change anything.”
Before the Rangers lost to the Mets 14-5, Cruz made up for the gaffe by hitting a two-run homer.
StatsWatch: Chicago White Sox DH/1B Adam Dunn has hit 38 or more home runs and driven in 92-plus runs over the past seven seasons while playing for Cincinnati, Arizona and Washington. He also struck out at least 164 times per year.
Dunn reached his 100th strikeout (16th in last 25 at-bats) of the season on Sunday, when he fanned four times in the White Sox’s 2-1 loss to the Nationals. He has only seven homers and 29 RBIs in his first season with the Sox while hitting just .173. Here is what Dunn’s dismal month of June has looked like, through Monday:
- 9-for-63, .143 AVG.
- 2 HRs, 6 RBIs
- 7 BBs, 31 Ks
- .239 OBP
- .270 SLG
Copyright © 2011 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.