While it’s easy to see why the confrontation between Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez and outfielder Jayson Werth can be a sign of things falling apart in the Nationals clubhouse, a little emotion is not always a bad thing.
Following the first inning of Tuesday night’s game, Gonzalez and Werth were caught on camera barking at each other as they left the field for the dugout and then appeared to almost bump chests while still barking at each other in the dugout. While it was hard to tell the cause at the time, it was easy to speculate after looking at the tape.
With a man on first and second and one out, Gonzalez got San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey to ground out into what appeared to be the inning-ending double play. First baseman Adam LaRoche moved to his right to scoop the ball and throw it to Ian Desmond for the out at second base.
But, when Desmond tried to make the turn to first for the second out, Gonzalez was nowhere to be found and Posey was safe, ruining the possible inning-ending play.
According to the replay, it appears as though Gonzalez was slow moving to first and therefore was not able to complete the double play. Luckily for him, he was able get Hunter Pence to ground out six pitches later to end the inning and stranding the runner at third. As the teams returned to the dugout, Werth and Gonzalez exchanged words.
The innings following the confrontation proved to be a bit more Gio-like. Gonzalez had a one-two-three inning in the top of the second and allowed three hits through the third and fourth innings.
Following the game, various media members reported on Twitter that the botched double-play was indeed what the confrontation was all about. While Werth reportedly declined to comment, manager Davey Johnson told reporters that the outfielder was confronting Gonzalez about not covering first base. Gonzalez said that what went on between Werth was between the two of them.
Johnson probably said it best when he told reporters that it was, “Just a little camaraderie. … Spirits are high, I like it. No big deal.”
Honestly, folks, that is exactly what this is, no big deal. In fact, this is a great thing that Werth and Gonzalez had this meeting of the minds. It means that this team hasn’t quit yet and are still fighting. While many have written off the Nationals, they players on the field haven’t lost faith in their season. Like Johnson, I like it when players hold teammates accountable for their actions. It’s a healthy sort of emotion that can make good teams great.