MILWAUKEE -- As far as Davey Johnson is concerned, he can't go wrong filling out the fourth and fifth spots of his lineup card.
Adam LaRoche has started at the cleanup spot 63 times this season, including Thursday's series opener against the Brewers at Miller Park. But Michael Morse has seen 27 starts in the fourth spot, including five of Washington's last six games. LaRoche and Morse have switched back and forth between batting cleanup and fifth since Morse came off the disabled list at the beginning of June.
"Either way I go, I can't make a mistake," Johnson said. "They're two big threats right there."
Johnson said who he bats cleanup behind third baseman Ryan Zimmerman depends partially on how many left-handed relievers the opposing club carries, as well as how those lefties attack hitters. But there's another reason, too, related to the .276/.327/.484 batting line the Nationals' five-hole hitters have put together this season.
"Sometimes, I just think I'll swap them out because the guy in the five-hole was the one doing all the hitting for a long time, and I wanted to give the other guy a chance to be in that hot spot," Johnson said. "That was the one that was doing all the bashing."
Johnson expects quiet Deadline for Nats
MILWAUKEE -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson took note of all the club's front-office personnel around the visiting dugout at Miller Park on Thursday afternoon, five days before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"They kind of worried me a little bit," Johnson said. "I'm looking around and seeing all the brass from the front office. I said, 'Holy moly, maybe they're getting ready to trade me.'"
General manager Mike Rizzo was with the club, as was assistant GM Bryan Minniti and director of player development Doug Harris, among others. Johnson joked that he was "under the microscope," but reiterated that he doesn't see the Nationals making a big splash before the Deadline.
"I don't see us really going out there and doing a whole lot unless somebody really cherishes somebody we've got," Johnson said.
There has been some talk that Washington would go out and acquire another starting pitcher to slot into the rotation whenever Stephen Strasburg hits his innings limit, but that seems unlikely with John Lannan available and Chien-Ming Wang rehabbing from a right hip strain.
There has also been speculation that the Nationals might look to beef up their middle-infield depth with shortstop Ian Desmond on the disabled list.
But Johnson remains confident that Desmond won't be out too long and he believes in the players he has. He pointed out potential backup options in utility man Mark DeRosa, Triple-A Syracuse infielder Josh Johnson and switch-hitting Double-A Harrisburg infielder Zach Walters. He said he could even start Ryan Zimmerman at shortstop "if push comes to shove" and Washington sustains another injury.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's not a growing need right now," Johnson said. "I know Rizzo is big on insurance, probably more so than me, but I like the cast of characters I've got.
"First of all, I think I've had these guys for about 100 games. They pretty much know what I expect out of them, and they pretty much know what to expect out of me. We're winning ballgames. We're actually getting better as the guys start playing like I know they're capable of playing or better."
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he would be "real surprised" to see the Brewers' Zack Greinke, who will likely be dealt by Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, make his scheduled start on Sunday at Miller Park.
"I know in the past if the ballclub's intent on making a move, they're not going to pitch him two days before the Deadline," Johnson said. "It's probably one of the reasons they've got eight pitchers in the bullpen -- although we have eight, but we're not making any moves.
"A club would probably like to put him right in their rotation. You wouldn't want to do anything to hurt him. So yeah, I'd be surprised if he's still here."
Thursday was Washington's first game this season against Milwaukee. Asked to give his thoughts on the struggling Brewers, Johnson compared them to the 2011 Nationals -- a lineup heavy on right-handed hitters with some power and a bullpen in "disarray."
Entering this four-game series in Miller Park, the Nationals are 10-4-2 in road series this year. Their 30-20 road record is tied with the Braves for the best road winning percentage in baseball