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Acta On the Hitting Slump and Lineup Changes

Here is a transcript of our chat today with Manager Manny Acta

How do you break the recent hitting slump?
We just need to concentrate and get some better at bats in situational hitting. I think we underestimate that and the end of the game some times that counts. I think we all know that they are trying to get it done, but right now they're are going through that period we're lacking that big hit. We can't slug away every single day. We're going to have to win some 3-2, 2-1 ball games and for that, we're going to need the big hits. We're going to need one of those guys to step up.

What are you looking for tonight in Lannan?
Just stay consistent and be himself and get a bunch of ground balls today and limit his pitches and pretty much the same thing he did last time. I'm not asking for a complete game or whatever. If he gets it, fine, but just do not try to do too much just let us do the work and we'll take care of the rest.

Any reason for the lineup changes?
It's just a day off for Nick. He's played a lot of games in a row. He's had a little bit for a rough series over here. We're giving him a day off. Were going to be going to Tampa playing on artificial turf and he's going to be playing those three games. We just thought it would be good to give him a day off, and get Gonzo some at bats he's as a utility guy. We need to get him some at bats not only one a day.

What was your take on Josh Willingham in right field?
I thought he did well. He had some good at bats. He read the ball good in the outfield. He dropped one, but it wasn't like he misplayed it. It takes a lot of character and courage for a guy like him to make the decision to take a few days and be out there game time and get it done.

He is playing in left field today. Will he sill he stay in right field?
Yeah, we're going to see him in right because whenever Dunn plays in the outfield, we're going to try to keep him in left.

Who is the designated hitter for the upcoming series against the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees?
Adam Dunn is going to DH in Tampa. When we go New York we might rotate a guy or two just to give them a day off from being on the field.

Does that give Austin Kearns and Willingham a chance to play more outfield?
Yeah they're going to get the opportunity to play as an extra outfielder in Tampa.

Is Kearns's slump a little longer than you thought?
Yeah it's taking him a little long and we need him now that we don't have Flores in our lineup. The bottom part of our lineup has suffered without him. We need him to step up. We're going to see what he is going to do now in this interleague series because it is going to give us an opportunity to have an extra hitter there. Then after that, we're going to have to make a decision.

In situational, do you feel the loss of Jesus Flores?
It's just the fact that our lineup was not as deep as it was before when we had the luxury of having Jesus his seventh or eighth. He's a good RBI guy and a good hitter. He's held his own so far in the big leagues, and we miss him defensively.

What's the reason for this hitting slump?
I think we've been getting some good pitching as of late. We're facing some tough guys. When you do that, you have just one opportunity to get hose guys and if you don't get them they're not going to be making a ton of mistakes in at bats. We have been missing our opportunities. It's been a combination. Some guys have been over-aggressive at the plate and some guys have been patient. But hey, it's part of the game. I think we need to snap out of it.

Are they not jumping on one pitch, or missing that one good pitch?
Some of them have been getting in and missing it, fouling it off. This is the big leagues, the best pitching that's out there.

How do you think Elijah Dukes is progressing?
I think he's done a good job for us. He lost some time on the DL, but he's done a good job. Obviously every wants to hit .300 and hit all the home runs and RBIs, so far he's done well. Some of these guys have gone down a little bit, tailed off, but we weren't expecting everyone here to hit .350 like they were in the beginning. He's going to be fine. When he gets the opportunity to get on the field and not lose time on the DL, he's going to be fine because he's too talented to struggle for a period of time.

What has Dunn meant to the team, on the field and in the clubhouse?
He's been a good clubhouse guy. He brings the same face every day to us and makes sure that everybody stays loose and keeps their focus. On the field, everybody knows what he's done offensively. He brought to us what we needed the past year. He strikes fear in the opposition. The stats says it all. We got what we wanted, an RBI guy and he's been jus that so far.

Did Rick Eckstein get fine after yelling at the umpire on Tuesday night?
I'm not aware. Usually when that happens we get a letter telling us.

By Mark Viera  |  June 11, 2009; 5:44 PM ET
 
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Comments

Good interview. From Viera, even better.

Here's the question I want to know: who have the Nats talked with about removing the hex from John Lannan?

Posted by: Section506 | June 11, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the laugh. Manny's comments on the hitting slump are awesome.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 11, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

"We're going to have to win some 3-2, 2-1 ball games and for that, we're going to need the big hits. We're going to need one of those guys to step up."

It is this type of statement that make me want to drive the keyboard right through the wall.

Manny it is not the 3-2 2-1 games .....it's ALL the games

WIN SOME how about WIN ANY.

Posted by: CBinDC1 | June 11, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't you ask Acta why HE didn't argue with the umpire this time, the last time, the time before, and a month ago? Are the reporters afraid of him? Acta is not going to win any arguments and has been very clear that he doesn't see the point of doing it.

Well guess what Mr. Acta. It shows your players that you support them. It sometimes can ignite a team. And it often will show the umpires that you care and then next call may go your way. If he is not aware any of this then he needs to be in A ball.

Posted by: MKadyman | June 11, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Jerry Hairston, Jr.! Yes!! Jerry Hairston, Jr.!!!

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 11, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Oooh - it's going to be Taveras vs. Tavarez

Posted by: PattyinSJ | June 11, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Or not.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | June 11, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Great - Kearns

Posted by: PattyinSJ | June 11, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

on the at-bat Kearns looked like a blind kid at little league practice (I do not intend for that to be insensitive to the blind kid)

he had no chance. not only does he not have an effective swing, but at this point he is so hesitant at when to swing...

we just shouldnt have to be subjected to him

Posted by: MinorLeagueFanatic | June 11, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

MLF-

Not insensitive, but you're giving Kearns too much credit here. At least there's a chance that the blind little leaguer might get hit by a pitch that was thrown too far inside. Kearns would just swing and miss...

Posted by: natsguy1 | June 11, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the mental picture - I'm watching the gamecast on ESPN.com.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | June 11, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Home plate umpire Scott Barry! Yes!! Home plate umpire Scott Barry!!!

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 11, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I gotta agree on Kearns. He looks like he knows he's gonna strike out even before he gets into the box. It's painful to watch. And has anybody noticed - he ALWAYS take a strike on the first pitch! It's like he's down 0-1 before he steps in and he's beaten already. I know there's this whole mentality about making the pitcher work, but why not swing at maybe the best pitch you're gonna see? I don't agree with the modern hitting viewpoint that you have to see everything the pitcher has - if it's a strike, WHY NOT SWING AT IT??? I know there's a lot of guessing involved, but I can't stand it when these guys take pitches right down the middle - drives me NUTS.

Posted by: LeeM9308 | June 11, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Why not pinch hit Harris and leave him in RF? Not something you would normally do but with 2 on 2 out and a tight game sending Kearns up there is just giving up. There still would have been Bard, Hernandez and Belliard to PH later and we always tank in extras anyway.

Posted by: SaveOurTeam | June 11, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

He always takes a strike because he doesn't swing at strikes.

Posted by: Vze2sr66 | June 11, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

So we need a hit and Guzman elects to bunt. And you wonder why we aren't scoring runs.

Posted by: Vze2sr66 | June 11, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Acta did argue the call the other night as well.
___________________
Why didn't you ask Acta why HE didn't argue with the umpire this time, the last time, the time before, and a month ago?

Posted by: lowcountry | June 11, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

The bunt is absolutely the right play there. Executed poorly, but the right play.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | June 11, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

It was executed poorly because he tried to get a hit as opposed to advance the runners.

Posted by: Vze2sr66 | June 11, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Only the Nationals - Harris gets HIT by a pick-off throw with nobody covering at 1B, then gets nailed at third on a bunt from Guzman. GACK!

Posted by: BinM | June 11, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Elijah Dukes f'exclamation heard clearly on MASN2 after strikeout! Yes!! Elijah Dukes f'exclamation heard clearly on MASN2 after strikeout!!!

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 11, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Biemel in - Please get McDougal warming up, just in case.

Posted by: BinM | June 11, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

*blink* Really?? *blink* Noo... *blink* It's a W!

Posted by: SaveOurTeam | June 11, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Finally, a curly W. Not pretty, but God we will take it.

Posted by: LeeM9308 | June 11, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe...what I just saw! (and I'll take it, too)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

How about that, Boys & Girls - The Nationals steal victory from the until-now depths of defeat, coming from behind & holding on for the win over the Reds. Bang-Zoom - Good Times!

I've come to a personal epiphany of sorts - Every win that this team gathers should be treated as a precious jewel, or family heirloom. They are so rare, and so wonderous, that I can no longer think of them as anything else.

Posted by: BinM | June 11, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Definitely most precious and to be treasured, BinM!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

The numerically-significant 16th victory, pushing the Nats' hexadecimal record from an obscene F-2A to a relatively benign 10-2A.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 11, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Sweet Sixteen....at last!

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 11, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Sweet. We are kicking a-- on getaway day (or at least playing something close to .500; 9-10 by my count). Now if we can just get rid of those other pesky games...

Posted by: joebleux | June 11, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Onward to Tampa - No rainouts / rain delays, with Stammen - Detwiler - JZimm (hopefully) taking the mound, the Dunnkey as a DH, and Willingham-Harris-Dukes / Kearns in the OF. Okey-dokey.

Posted by: BinM | June 11, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I like winning. We should do this some more!

Posted by: lowcountry | June 11, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

About Kearns:

"We're going to see what he is going to do now in this interleague series because it is going to give us an opportunity to have an extra hitter there. Then after that, we're going to have to make a decision."

Decision? What are the options? DFA? Minor leagues?

Posted by: derwink | June 11, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Gold star to Gonzalez for taking out the second baseman on Zim's slow roller. I don't think they get the double play in any case, but it forced the bad throw and gave us the lead. Nice to see good fundamentals working -for- us for a change.

Posted by: joebleux | June 11, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I've noticed that when Dukes plays rightfield he seems to hit the ball better than in centerfield. I don't know what it is that causes that to happen but it does. Hopefully he gets the bat going against Tampa and doesn't get too amped against his former team.

Posted by: GuzDukes | June 11, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

The contract on Kearns has a club option for $10mil for 2010 or a $1mil buyout. You'd hope they wouldn't pick up the option and eat the buyout instead. It's hard to imagine he'd improve his numbers enough to make him tradable and right now he's a liability.

Sounds like that leaves DFA.

Posted by: SaveOurTeam | June 11, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Please, please, please NO MORE KEARNS!!! He can't even get the ball out of the infield. Surely the Lerners understand the concept of a sunk cost -- the money is gone and so is the production. Now is the time to DFA him with the upcoming AL road trip. With Dunn as DH it should be Harris, Dukes and Willingham in the OF. AFterwards let Willie be the 4th OF and call up Maxwell if someone gets hurt. Keeping Kearns in the lineup for salary reasons is a morale killer. Stop it -- NOW!!! He's an automatic out (or DP) and unable to even advance runners.

Posted by: SackMan | June 11, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I find it funny that Manny thinks it's a slump with Kearns. Kearns is not in a slump. He is what he is. He has stunk up the joint for 3 years now. He couldn't Hit water if he fell out of a F'ing boat.

It chapped my arse the other night when I say Eckstein arguing the third strike call. Where the hell is Manny? Have so balls buddy and stand up to somebody, for the love of pete.

Can Rizzo fire this guy alreay? He ain't working. His teams play just like him, with no sense of urgency.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 11, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

59-102 and now 16-42. I think it is time to move on.

Manny must go.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 11, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Do you really think Manny is responsible for all this? With better managing, where would the Nats be? Challenging the Phillies?

Posted by: EdDC | June 11, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

This only goes to show how screwed up this franchise is, Kearns is plummeting toward the Mendoza line yet he gets more playing time then Willie Harris. Didn't see the game today(at work my new ownwer hates baseball) but again, Zim chokes in the clutch don't get me wrong i love this kid but he consistently comes up short when it counts especially when the bases are loaded. Cincy had to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in order for the Nats to win. The Rockies won their eighth game in a row today amazing what a change in the dugout will do.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 11, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Gotta luv the Acta presser, the guy is in incrediable denial. Hope he enjoyed todays little Reds implosion cause for the next two weeks with the exception of the BLOWS, Manny will once again be staring into the abyss. It will be a miracle if this group doesn't hit -50 by next weekend.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 11, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Come on guys, this is nothing more than Manny BS

When the Nationals can play one solid week at 500 ball I will start listening to Manny. But that isn't going to happen

Posted by: Golfersal | June 11, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

EdDC,

Do I think Manny is "responsible for all of this?"

No. However, we shouldn't be this bad either. 16-42 after 59-102 is flat out disgraceful. Manny has no fire and his players are a mirror of him, no fire and no sense of urgency. The "will get'em tomorrow" attitude ain't working.

I ultimately hold the Lerner's and Kasten responsible for the embarrassement this franchise has become.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 11, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Sec.505203: I second that emotion(old Smokey Robinson hit) its not about Manny anymore believe me Kasten and the Lerners know whats up they know that Acta is a joke and they know that we know that its "Manny being Manny" i said it once and i'll say it again he should have been fired after last season.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 11, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

The Kearns denial from the organization is absolutely horrible. He is bad. He has been bad for a long, long time. I cannot believe this franchise is serious about winning until they get rid of losing players like Kearns. I was at the game today and saw Kearns with men on base three times. My scorecard reads K, popup, K. The man can't even manage a productive out. Forget about hits. Can anybody remember the last Kearns line drive?

Posted by: souldrummer | June 12, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Comparing the 2009 Nats to the 1962 Mets ... after 58 games, they're tied.

http://tinyurl.com/natsmets

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | June 12, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Okay, now it's Friday morning, and I am happy to be the first to thank Bos for an article that shows the team some sympathy and respect. And my heart goes out to Kearns, who knows his career is in jeopardy, yet thinks about the team as a whole--"The veterans in our lineup have to be professional for the sake of all these young guys." Geez I hope we beat TB tonight!

Posted by: Section109 | June 12, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Awww, man. I stepped away from the game after the last out of the ninth inning thinking it was in the box, but I shouldn't ever assume anything. Now that I catch up on Nationals Journal with what happened after I turned it off, I see that we ended up losing the game!

Posted by: Section506 | June 12, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I just looked at the box score, and according to that, all three runs the Nats scored were earned. How could Guzman's run have been earned when it was scored on an error?

Posted by: Cavalier83 | June 12, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

I hope this doesn't lump me in with CiL but weren't there 47 rounds of the draft the last three days? Why hasn't the Post had a word of coverage of who the Nats drafted in those rounds??? I know the MASN plug-pulling debacle had to be covered and of course the games still matter but I haven't seen a word. Not a blog entry, a notebook item, nothing. Throw us a bone??

Posted by: Avar | June 12, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

506,

We may have won this one but we have lost 42 out of 58. Horrible.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 12, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Chalk it up to (natsf)anhedonia 506. I'm always happy to see a win. I had a bit of a double-header last night in that I watched Major League 2 after the game ended. I think I might like it better than the first one (but it's been a while since I saw that). I loved Randy Quaid's interpretation of the trajectory of fan base moods given a losing team. Also, Bob Uecker's beleaguered broadcaster (glug glug).

On the coverage front, I second the thanks for the Boz column (and his chat yesterday). OTOH, it would also be nice to see a summary of draft results. Could that be a coverage fail? ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 12, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

uh, new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 12, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

FIRE MANNY!!!!

Posted by: NATSFAN10 | June 12, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

saying we need kearns to step up is sad, he should be trying to find a job right now or simply being content collecting his money, he does not belong on a major league ballfield and until like three days ago he was still batting 5 and 6 and now still 7th, even though he should never crack the lineup when he does he's the worst, anything other than eighth is ridiculous, they do know kearns got over a quarter of his rbi on one swing this year right?

Posted by: bford1kb | June 12, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

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