WASHINGTON (AP) - Nationals manager Davey Johnson plans to rest his regular players if Washington clinches the NL East - and he doesn't care one bit what anyone else thinks.
The Nationals entered Monday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers with a magic number of six for clinching the division title. The rest of Washington's regular-season opponents are still in the chase for wild-card berths, including the St. Louis Cardinals.
And if other clubs hope the Nationals will put their best lineup on the field against the Cardinals?
"I'm resting my regulars. End of conversation," Johnson said.
"I have a lot of confidence in the other guys, too, in that they're fully capable as they've shown all year long when they've had the opportunity to play. My responsibility is to getting my club ready for the next day," he added. "But it's happened in the past. I've had criticism, and I've said, `Fine. I'm not worried."'
Johnson made clear he's not thrilled about the way this season's playoffs were set up to accommodate the second wild-card team in each league. If the Nationals wind up as the NL's top-seeded club - they entered Monday with the league's best record - they will need to wait until the wild-card playoff to find out their opponent for the capital's first postseason game since 1933..
"You don't know who you're going to play, and so it's really difficult," Johnson said.
"I don't like to criticize Major League Baseball, but from an operational standpoint, to line up your pitching, it's very difficult. It's great for the fans, but boy, for a manager, it's tough," he continued. "It's actually easier for the clubs fighting for the wild card, because they'll know who they have to beat to move ahead. And then if they get it, they'll know who they're going to play. I don't. I shouldn't be handicapped that way."
NOTES: LF Michael Morse was out of the starting lineup Monday because of a bothersome hand; he's had problems with both hands in the past month or so. When a reporter asked Johnson whether it was Morse's right or left that was the issue now, the manager replied: "I'm not really 100 percent sure. I know he came into the training room after (Sunday's) game. He was having trouble with his hand. I think he was looking forward to getting a shot or something."