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Josh Willingham gets the day off

Left fielder Josh Willingham won't be in the starting lineup for tonight's game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Manager Jim Riggleman said he made the decision based on several factors, including a desire to give Willingham some rest and to get Willie Harris, who will start in left field, an opportunity for more at-bats.

"We kind of came into the season feeling like we overdid it with [Willingham] a little bit last year," Riggleman said. "He's been so good, it's hard to sit him down, but we came into the season feeling like no matter if he's hot or cold, there's just going to be times when we have to sit him."

With Tim Hudson starting for the Braves, tonight is a good a time as any to give Willingham a break. Hudson is 9-1 with a 1.51 ERA in 15 starts against Washington in his career and this season has given up two earned runs over 14 innings to the Nationals.

Willingham, who is hitting .274 with 15 home runs, 50 RBI and 8 steals, ranks among the National League leaders in OPS (second, .401) and walks (tied third, 60). His 11 walks in July are the most on the team this month. Willingham, however, has been in power slump lately, having gone 17 games without a homer and hitting .159 in June and July with runners in scoring position.

"We feel he'll be a better producer for us with 500 at-bats than with 600," Riggleman said, "so we just take these opportunities when there's a particular matchup, and hopefully something comes up in the game where I can get a spot where he can help us with a pinch hit."

Willingham has had one season of 600 at-bats in his big league career, that coming in 2007 with Florida, when he hit .265 with 21 homers and 89 RBI. Last season Willingham had 502 at-bats and hit .260 with 24 homers and 61 RBI.

Batting in Willingham's usual No. 5 spot will be right fielder Roger Bernadina, who is 4 for 25 with a homer and three RBI over his past eight games.

By Gene Wang  |  July 28, 2010; 4:55 PM ET
Categories:  Josh Willingham  
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Next: J.D. Martin remaining optimistic

Comments

And, again no one even asks why give Willie Harris more at bats over Michael Morse? Must be some sort of conspiracy?

Posted by: periculum | July 28, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

>Manager Jim Riggleman said he made the decision based on several factors, including a desire to give Willingham some rest and to get Willie Harris, who will start in left field, an opportunity for more at-bats.

Butt funny

Posted by: Brue | July 28, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

We can always hope that someone is going to be at the game to scout Harris. That's the only reason to play him instead of a beer vendor -- or a real hitter like Morse.

Posted by: grclarkdc1 | July 28, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

peri, I don't agree with you very often, but I'm with you here. Their lack of interest in getting Michael Morse more at bats speaks volumes.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 28, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Mark Lerner will figure it out and poke Stan K about it. Playing Harris over Morse seems far worst than Dunn leaving the dugout to talk to Uecker. Perhaps requiring a fine or disciplinary action.

Posted by: periculum | July 28, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-Well, arguments aside, it's nice too see some of my favorite Gangsters (read:knowledgeable, involved, smart-not necessarily agreed with) here in the mix. No offense to any of the handles I didn't recognize, but Sheesh!Last night there were folks I'd never heard from posting-and seemed to have had no idea of the topics or positions often tossed about...speaking of which: Tippy, Ray-ain't seen enough of you all lately. Brue?-you've been a tad light as well!Nice to see you back in the fray!(Now, if only dove would reconsider his boycott....and where's JayB-lets REALLY light the place up!) While I'm at it-CapPete, 506...ahh, too many too go on naming. Looking forward to some spirited debate.
O.K. Gang-back to the party!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | July 28, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully we can top Opening Night 2007, when, even though we won the game, Tim Hudson retired 24 straight batters! He might have had a reliever in the 8th.

Posted by: paulkp | July 28, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

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