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Struggling Rendon to Replace Zimmerman at Third Base Against Tigers

by Chris Lingebach
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Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals is unable to field a ball hit by Clint Barmes #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth inning of a game at Nationals Park on July 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. Rendon was charged with an error on the play. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals is unable to field a ball hit by Clint Barmes #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth inning of a game at Nationals Park on July 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. Rendon was charged with an error on the play. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - The Nationals haven’t lived up to the “World Series” end of Davey Johnson’s pre-season “World Series or bust” proclamation thus far in the 2013 season, and it’s beginning to affect his sleep patterns.

“I’m not sleeping well,” Johnson told the Junkies Wednesday, hours after his team got lit up 5-1 by the Tigers. “But that goes with the territory because you keep thinking ‘Well, what can I do different? What can I do different?’ That’s what you go through. Mental gymnastics.”

Regardless, the Nats have been trending upward, having won 4 of their last 6 games since falling on their faces out of the All-Star break, but Davey’s still not satisfied with the lineup, offering more tweaks for the second of two in Detroit Wednesday night.

Asked if Chad Tracy would be the designated hitter, Johnson responded “no, actually Ryan Zimmerman is gonna DH.”

Guessing his lineup has become an ongoing bit the Junkies have engaged Johnson in, during his weekly radio appearances.

“And then Tracy will play third, or Lombo will play third?” Lurch asked.

“No, guess again,” Davey said.

“Rendon third?” JP asked.

“Rendon at third,” Davey confirmed.

“Rendon third, and then Lombo at second,” Lurch sought to clarify.

“Yep,” Davey responded.

Related: ‘I May Slit My Wrists, But I’m Not Quitting’

It’s almost fortuitous that Davey would go with Rendon in place of Zimmerman at third base. Aside from Zimm’s defensive struggles, the younger Rendon is viewed as the team’s third baseman of the future, with Zimmerman eventually expected to shift across the diamond to first base.

But Rendon’s hot bat has cooled since being re-called to the big club in June. He’s hitting a mere .184 in the month of July.

“I’m going to drop him down in the order,” Davey said, while specifying Rendon needs to make adjustments.

“In his case, early on, they kept the ball away from him,” he added. “Now they’re pounding him in. It’s all about adjustments, and if you’ve got some weaknesses, whatever it is, they’re going to jump all over it.”

Outside of dropping Rendon in the lineup and sliding him to third base tonight, Johnson also took the Junkies through his difficult conversation with Drew Storen, just before demoting the former closer to Triple-A Syracuse last week.

“I just told him ‘We need to get you right,’” Johnson said. “Obviously, whether it’s the role change and mentally how you prepare that, or you’re not used to being a setup man, whatever it is, and tinkering with your delivery so much that you’re like molasses going to the plate, you know, get it figured out. And I want you back. I need you.”

According to Davey, that’s when Storen tried to fight for his job.

“He said ‘I’m going to get it right here,’ Johnson said. “Well, unfortunately you haven’t been getting right, so just get it right and we need you back. That’s all. End of conversation.”

Brutal.

Listen to the highlights, or the full interview with Davey Johnson below.

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