NEW YORK -- Infielder Steve Lombardozzi is always ready to play, and he proved it once again when second baseman Danny Espinosa went down with a hand injury last week.
During his four games at second base, Lombardozzi went 7-for-21 (.333) with three RBIs. Asked how he is able to produce even though he is coming off the bench, Lombardozzi said: "I don't know the exact formula, but the one thing I've been trying to do is ... get extra work, especially hitting-wise and doing drill work. I'm hitting in the cage, keeping my swing, mechanics-wise, in order to stay sharp. ... I'm trying to do whatever I can to stay sharp without playing."
Lombardozzi credits his success to his father, Steve Sr., a former Major League infielder, and teammates Chad Tracy and Roger Bernadina. Lombardozzi always talks to Tracy and Bernadina about how to prepare for a game while on the bench.
"There is nobody else really better to talk to because they have been through it," Lombardozzi said.
General manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson have often said that Lombardozzi is an everyday player. Lombardozzi admits that he's frustrated sometimes that he is on the bench and is aware that a lot of fans would like to see him play every day at second base.
"We all want to play, everybody on this team wants to play. Yes, I want to be a starter, but I have to be ready when my name is called," Lombardozzi said. "That's my personal feelings and I know I can be an everyday guy. But the bottom line is, it's not about me, it's not about another guy. It's about the whole team. We are in it to win a World Series. That's the bottom line. So there is a bigger picture. Again, I have to be ready when my name is called."
Nationals struggling on defense out of the gate
NEW YORK -- After 18 games, the Nationals rank 30th in the Major Leagues in defense, and that was after making three errors against the Mets in a 2-0 loss on Sunday afternoon. Last year, the Nationals were in the top 10 in defense.
Left fielder Bryce Harper made one of the errors Sunday and was asked why the defense has struggled so far this year.
"I have no comment on that one," he said.
However, manager Davey Johnson doesn't seem to be worried about how his players are playing on defense. For now, there are no plans to go back to the drawing board to clean things up.
Johnson mentioned that he saw former Orioles teammate Brooks Robinson struggle defensively in a game, but didn't worry about Robinson, who is arguably the greatest defensive third baseman to play the game.
"I have all the confidence in the world in our defense," Johnson said. "We have a lot of talented guys out there. For whatever reason, sometimes, you make errors. I saw Brooks Robinson make three errors in one ballgame. Did I worry about it? No. We are just a little out of sync. We'll get there."
Asked if the high expectations were getting to the players, Johnson said: "I don't think so. Errors are part of this game . It always has been, it always will be. But I wouldn't trade in my guys for anybody."
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.