AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Davey Johnson says he's giving up his razor until the Washington Nationals find their bats.
The manager apologized for his scraggly appearance before Friday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies, but he said it had a purpose.
"If my facial hair looks bad," he said, "I decided I wouldn't shave until we started hitting."
The Nationals began the day batting .225, second worst average in the majors. They are a popular favorite to make the World Series, but they were just one game over .500 entering the three-game series against the Phillies. They just returned from a West Coast road trip that included a four-game losing streak, the team's sixth shutout loss of the season, Bryce Harper's head-first collision with a wall and a broken hand for Ryan Mattheus after he punched his locker following a rough outing.
While defense, relief pitching and intangibles have cost the Nationals, the lack of hitting has been the most glaring weakness this season. Only two teams have scored fewer than Washington's 159 runs.
"I figured I couldn't get any uglier, so what the heck," Johnson said. "Hopefully I can shave soon. I've never had a rally goatee. I'm not hairy enough to get one. Now it's gray, you can't hardly see it unless you get these close-ups that I get after the game, so I apologize. You can't change the shape of a watermelon anyway.
"I'll be like everybody else around here. Maybe I can change the luck."
The Nationals went on the win the game 5-2, but that wasn't enough for Johnson to reach for the razor. He said he told a couple of his players: "It's getting close to coming off."
Their response: "They said it can't come off yet,"
"My wife, she probably wants me to take it off, I'm sure she does," Johnson said. "But I might leave it on, see if this is not something strange happening here."
The more conventional explanation for the Nationals' mediocre performance is the weight for a team that accustomed to losing. A .500 record near the one-third mark would have been a seen as a positive in any previous season since the franchise moved to Washington.
"It's obviously different from anything we've experienced before," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "So you can't completely discount it, but to say we come in here every day and say we need to win because we're supposed to be in the World Series is a little bit of a stretch. I think things we've done in the past, little things, are being talked about more and made a bigger deal of than because of the expectations of this year.
"We're a young team still. We're learning how to handle this stuff just like any other team that has gone from not-so-good to being relevant in a quick period of time."
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