Solano's offense a surprising bonus for Nats

Solano's offense a surprising bonus for Nats

Solano's offense a surprising bonus for Nats
WASHINGTON -- A newly healthy and once again powerful heart of the Nationals' lineup has keyed the team's recent hot streak, but very few people could've expected the contributions of Jhonatan Solano.

The 26-year-old catcher was called up to the big leagues just five weeks ago, and in nine games he has gone 11-for-28 (.393) with two home runs and six RBIs. Consider that his principal responsibility -- at least, initially -- was allowing the frequently banged-up Jesus Flores to get an occasional off-day.

Solano continued his stunning emergence in Wednesday night's 9-4 win over the Giants, enjoying his third multi-hit game with a 2-for-4 day at the plate. His solo home run in the fourth inning put the Nats ahead for good, pushing the young catcher further into the Independence Day spotlight.

"At this point, I worry about just my defense, helping the pitchers," Solano said. "I know I'm a young guy; I just got called up to the big leagues. What I worry about is just calling the game. I tell myself when I hit, just make good contact. I'm trying to do the little things of baseball."

After Solano's latest strong outing, manager Davey Johnson effusively lauded the team's depth at catcher. Solano is the Nats' fifth catcher this season, needing injuries to Flores, Wilson Ramos, Sandy Leon and Carlos Maldonado to finally get his shot in the Majors.

"I've said it before: I've never seen such depth in catching as in this organization," Johnson said. "I've never been in an organization -- this is my fifth one -- anywhere close to that."

Considering Mark DeRosa has just returned to the bench and Chad Tracy -- the team's best pinch-hitter before a groin tear sidelined him in late May -- is expected back after the All-Star break, the Nationals are enjoying a lineup deeper than most expected after Jayson Werth broke his wrist in the 27th game of the season.

"I feel great right now because everyone's playing good," Solano said. "It's a little pressure, but I try to do everything good because I don't want to look like, 'Oh, he's the only guy that can do nothing.'"