ST. LOUIS -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson was quick to point out Sunday morning that as new as this experience may be for many of his players, that's hardly the case for him. Don't expect his managing style to change under the brighter lights of the postseason, either.
"It's not my first rodeo, and you know, I'm kind of a dinosaur. I don't change my stripes," Johnson said. "My philosophy always has been every game is a big game. From Game 1 to Game 162, we take them all serious. And this is no different. We know who we are. We know what we do well. We just need to go out and continue doing that."
For Johnson, that means not altering the way he prepares or how he approaches in-game situations, from hooking his starters early or managing his bullpen. He didn't give a rousing pregame speech or hold a team meeting before Sunday's series opener, just as he mostly avoided speeches and meetings during the regular season.
"I'm not going to change the way I look at it," Johnson said. "I don't know how I'm going to react until I see what's going on."
The only thing that might change, and it's more a product of the playoff schedule than anything else, is that Johnson won't be afraid to work his relievers on back-to-back or three consecutive days. The Nationals will play two games in St. Louis before Tuesday's off-day, then three more, at most, back in Washington. So Johnson won't hesitate to use closer Drew Storen or setup man Tyler Clippard in every game.
"I'm not worried about overuse at this time," Johnson said. "They are all champing at the bit."
Mixed perspectives on Nats' three-day layoff
ST. LOUIS -- The Nationals had three full days off between the final game of the regular season and Sunday's National League Division Series Game 1 against the Cardinals. That gave them time to unwind from a long season and let some of their injuries heal, but whether that's a good thing depends on who you're talking to.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who was banged up throughout the season with a shoulder injury, was among those thankful for the time off.
"I think it's a great thing. After going through the season, everyone has their bumps and bruises," Zimmerman said. "There's not anyone in Major League Baseball who's played however-many games and doesn't have something. It gives you a chance to kind of heal up a little bit, but it's not too long where you kind of get out of game mode.
"Being able to work out two out of the three days is good, too. It's nice you get to relax, kind of settle down and realize what you have to do, kind of regroup and get ready to go."
First baseman Adam LaRoche, meanwhile, expressed the opposite sentiment. The Nationals have worked out twice and taken batting practice, of course, but LaRoche said that doesn't compare to the feeling of actually being in the flow of a game. One of the early storylines in this series figures to be whether the Nats show any signs of rust or bad timing against the Cardinals, who had a day off before and after their Wild Card game.
"I don't like it," LaRoche said. "You come in, get some BP, but not seeing live pitching for a few days -- that's the way it has to be, obviously, with the schedule, but I would prefer one off-day."
Nats: Lefty or righty, Cards relievers will be tough
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals decided to carry only one left-handed reliever, Marc Rzepczynski, on their roster for the National League Division Series, a move that would seemingly benefit the Nationals given their balanced lineup and lefty-heavy bench.
But Washington manager Davey Johnson didn't see that putting St. Louis at a significant disadvantage, guessing that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny will go to Rzepczynski when the Nats pinch-hit for their pitcher and leave him in to face right-handed-hitting leadoff man Jayson Werth and lefty-swinging Bryce Harper.
"One is basically all they needed," Johnson said. "He's got a good bullpen over there. Got a lot of hard throwers. ... They got the arms. I don't think it's that big of an advantage."
Two of the Nationals' most dangerous pinch-hitting options -- Chad Tracy and Roger Bernadina -- are left-handed, with slugger Tyler Moore, utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi (switch-hitter) and backup catcher Jesus Flores the right-handed hitters available in reserve. Matheny didn't expect it to be an issue, either, saying he trusts his late-inning relief trio of Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte against anyone.
"We'll have the one lefty to pick a spot, whether to get one of those three out of trouble, or if need be, before that," Matheny said. "But for the most part, I think teams usually prefer to have those lefties where they can use them in that last third of the game. But our three guys on the back side have been so consistent with lefties and righties that we really don't bring them out just for a matchup."
Nats make their roster official for NLDS
ST. LOUIS -- The Nationals' Division Series roster became official on Sunday morning, a few hours before Washington's scheduled 3 p.m. ET start time for Game 1 in St. Louis.
The shape of the roster that Nats manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo put together had already been finalized Saturday, but they waited until Sunday to make the official announcement. Washington will carry 13 position players, including two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders. There are five lefties and seven righties on the pitching staff, which includes four starters and eight relievers.
Veteran infielder Mark DeRosa, left-hander John Lannan and relievers Chien-Ming Wang and Zach Duke are with the team in St. Louis, as is Stephen Strasburg, but they are not on the active roster. Catcher Sandy Leon and outfielders Eury Perez and Corey Brown were sent to the Nationals' facility in Viera, Fla., to work out and stay prepared in case they are needed.
Christian Garcia, a righty reliever, made the Division Series roster after throwing 12 2/3 innings as a September callup. He struck out 15 and posted a 2.13 ERA, earning a spot on the postseason roster even if that would've seemed unthinkable back when he broke spring camp with Double-A Harrisburg.
"I can't say it was a surprise, because I have high expectations for myself, and big goals," Garcia said Saturday. "But it's obviously something I didn't have control over, so I was very excited. I wouldn't use the word surprised. I would say more excited than anything."
Closer Drew Storen, setup man Tyler Clippard, right-handers Ryan Mattheus and Craig Stammen plus lefties Sean Burnett, Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny are also in the bullpen. Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler are the starting pitchers.
Rookie slugger Tyler Moore made the cut, joining outfielders Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Michael Morse and Roger Bernadina; infielders Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi; and catchers Kurt Suzuki and Jesus Flores.