by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Let’s face it, the Nats are in a deep slump. There’s just now way around it.

They’re searching for answers and coming up empty on a nightly basis. Whether it’s a solution to their miserable team on-base percentage, or just that breakthrough game for a player who’s struggled to find his identity this season, like Ryan Zimmerman.

“Players are grinding away and trying to do too much at times, but there’s also over-thinking it,” Mike Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny on Wednesday, tracking with comments Davey Johnson made earlier in the day.

“This is a ballclub that has great talent, great ability – I think it’s the second youngest team in the Major Leagues,” he continued. “They achieved a lot last year, and they’re so athletic and so talented that over-thinking it sometimes isn’t the way to go. It’s kind of see ball, hit ball and catch ball, and running the bases and play the game like you’ve played it your whole life and I think good things will happen from there.”

One spark that’s been missing from the Nationals’ firepower is Bryce Harper, who’s now missed 20 games with bursitis in his left knee.

“He’ll be doing some baseball activities in the next day or so,” Rizzo said.

“There’s always the fear that if he bangs it again it could swell up again so we’re certainly going to be cautious with him,” he added. “Here’s a guy that hasn’t gotten at-bats in the last couple weeks, so he’s going to have to see some live pitching to get his stroke back, and to fully prepare himself to rejoin us.”

The team’s gone 8-12 since May 26, when the 20-year-old slugger last appeared in the lineup.

Rizzo won’t rush to any rash personnel decisions yet though, throwing his support behind hitting coach Rick Eckstein when a caller inquired about his future.

“I’ve fired pitching coaches and managers and directors in my career. It’s never an easy thing to do but it’s something that has to happen when it has to happen,” Rizzo said.

“If it comes to the point where I think that Rick’s not doing his job and needs to be replaced, I would certainly consider it. I’m not in that place. Rick prepares extremely well, he works extremely hard and has helped a lot of our hitters, and I’m certainly not at the point of thinking about that yet.”

You’ll remember back on June 5, when Davey said “if you fire him, you might as well fire me.”

Sounds like they’re both safe for now, but there’s still no answers as to how the Nats will climb out from this hole they’re in.


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