WASHINGTON -- The Nationals took infield practice Wednesday afternoon. The practice was supposed to be for the reserves, but regulars such as Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa were also getting in their reps. They asked manager Matt Williams to be part of the action, and Williams obliged.
Entering Wednesday's action, the Nationals were the worst defensive team (.970 fielding percentage and a Major League-leading 23 errors) in baseball, and Williams was pleased that his regulars wanted to get better.
"We want to play clean games. They want that, too. So we continue to work at it," Williams said. "I have to say this is not my idea. This is their idea. They came to us and said, 'Let's do some more.' That's a good thing. They don't want to make an error. Nobody wants to strike out. Nobody wants to give up a homer. So they are working hard [at their defense]."
Williams finds it hard to believe that his team is this bad defensively, and he believes the trend will turn around. To get better, they have to keep practicing.
"This is not the norm. This is a [tough] stretch, and we'll get through it, and I assured them that they will," Williams said. "I can't tell you a reason for it, but that's baffling. There is no real reason that I can see, because everything is the same that it has been. They work hard. Nobody is sitting around doing nothing. That's why I think it will turn. Then we'll do everything we can to make it turn. "
Clippard not pleased, but not concerned by start
WASHINGTON -- After allowing four unearned runs to the Angels in a 4-2 loss on Monday night, Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard indicated that he may be tipping his pitches. But manager Matt Williams believes Clippard has a problem with his location.
"I looked at every angle. I looked at the pitches that he has thrown, I would say no, I don't think he is tipping pitches," Williams said. "I think he is missing location, and that's getting him in trouble, especially with his fastball. I don't think he is giving it away."
Entering Wednesday's action, Clippard had a respectable 3.72 ERA, and said he doesn't look at ERA. He simply feels he is not doing his job.
"It has not been very successful," Clippard said. "I'm truly worried about winning games. I've been on the mound in a lot of close games this year. I haven't really got the job done like I usually do, like I expect myself to do. So far, it hasn't been good, in my opinion. But there is a long season ahead of me, and I know myself. I'm not too worried about it."
• Williams believes catcher Jose Lobaton is finally comfortable with his new team. After learning about the new pitching staff, Lobaton is showing his value with the bat, going 7-for-24 (.292) with an RBI in his last seven games before Wednesday's series finale.
"He is hitting the ball back through the middle, which tells me he is just hitting singles. He is worried about hitting the ball through the middle of the diamond," Williams said. "His swing is a little shorter, and his approach has been good."
• Outfielder Scott Hairtson, who is on the disabled list because of a left oblique strain, took batting practice for the first time Wednesday and didn't feel any pain. The key is how he feels Thursday.
• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb, is doing some running on a treadmill in the swimming pool. He is also taking modified ground balls, which means he is only catching the ball with his glove.
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.