Davey Johnson jokes about lineup

WASHINGTON -- Davey Johnson is having problems with his Ouija board.

The Washington Nationals manager was in rare form Thursday before an 11 a.m. Fourth of July start against the Milwaukee Brewers, apparently having decided that humor was the best way to deal with the team's hitting woes.

He explained his decision to move Ian Desmond to the No. 2 spot in the batting order by saying: "I don't know. Because I'm supposed to do something. I had an epiphany last night about 9:30, and I called Desi and I said, 'Desi, I'm changing something.'"

Johnson switched Desmond with Jayson Werth, who was moved down to sixth.

"I didn't even explain it to Werth," Johnson said. "He'll figure it out -- that I'm an idiot."

Johnson then started quoting old clichés from Frank Howard, including "Turn on the fan" and "Keep swinging."

"I am going crazy," Johnson concluded.

Asked about the makeup of the lineup overall, Johnson said: "I don't have the answers. I mean, I still love this ballclub. I still like the talent. I like the makeup. My Ouija board is just, I'm having a problem with it. It seems like when we hit, we all hit, and when we don't, we don't hit. ... We've been in that cycle for a long time."

"I've thought about just throwing a bunch of names in a hat and picking them out," he added. "I ain't to that point yet."

The Nationals appeared to break out of their collective slump when they scored 23 combined runs in games Sunday and Monday. Then they were shut out Tuesday and scored only one run Wednesday.

Johnson was sporting the red, white and blue necklace given to all Nationals players and staff for the Independence Day matinee.

"It's my hit machine," he said.

Johnson was also clearly happy to have Wilson Ramos back in the lineup. The catcher missed 44 games because of a strained left hamstring and earlier had a knee injury.

"Hopefully he won't have any more problems," said Johnson, who superstitiously knocked on the table four times.

Johnson then spoke about a visit to the home of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dempsey sang the national anthem before Thursday's game.

"I was very impressed. He had a telephone with a whole bunch of red buttons on it," Johnson said. "And I didn't have my glasses on, but I think countries were on there."