CINCINNATI -- One has to wonder if the Nationals are going to make a move before Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. At first, it seemed they didn't have to make a major move, until Ryan Zimmerman injured his right hamstring against the Rockies last week.
Although nothing has been announced, Zimmerman is expected to be out a long period of time. That's prompted the Nats to inquire about Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, but Washington was rebuffed, according to two sources.
With Zimmerman out for a while, Anthony Rendon will play third base, but Washington could try to trade for a second baseman. For now, Danny Espinosa will get most of the time at second, but he hasn't given the Nationals much offense, and Kevin Frandsen and Zach Walters are just backups.
As recently as Friday, general manager Mike Rizzo sounded like a guy who might not make a major move before the Deadline.
"I don't know who we are going to acquire or not going to acquire. We don't have any pressing needs," Rizzo said. "We like the team that we put together right now. They are jelling. We are starting to flow and get some rhythm in our lineup. The rotation has been great. The bullpen has been great. We like where we are at."
Entering Monday's action, Nats pinch-hitters are a combined 20-for-129 (.155), with four home runs and 12 RBIs. It doesn't help that players such as Scott Hairston and Nate McLouth are not getting enough reps. With Washington in the thick of the pennant race, it's rare that any of the starting eight, which includes shortstop Ian Desmond and center fielder Denard Span, are able to get a day off.
"Coming off the bench is like a flip of a coin," hitting coach Rick Schu said. "You get one at-bat. You either get a hit or not get a hit. I think our guys have done a good job as far as quality at-bats, grinding at-bats. The results have not been what they would like, but … they have prepared themselves every day."
Nationals manager Matt Williams recently sounded like he did not want to change what he has on the bench. Like Schu, Williams reiterated it's difficult to come off the bench.
"We're unique in that regard. We have a lot of position players on our starting eight that play just about every day," Williams said. "It's hard to give [the regulars] rest, because they are playing so well. ... You want to give guys opportunities. You keep them sharp, so when they do step up, they have rhythm and timing."