The Nationals are using an only-in-September lineup against the Phillies in Game 1 of their doubleheader. Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse are not starting, and Chris Marrero and Steve Lombardozzi will play on the corners of the infield, with Marrero hitting cleanup.
Manager Davey Johnson explained that the decision had a lot to do with the Phillies’ pitchers. Right-hander Kyle Kendrick, often used as a reliever, will pitch in the afternoon, while left-handed Cliff Lee, one of the best pitchers in baseball, will start tonight.
“One of their aces is going the second game, and he’s left-handed,” Johnson said. “Zimmerman wasn’t going to play both games. Neither was Werth. I just threw Morse in with them. I wanted to see the bench play against this guy coming out of the bullpen. I’ll save my big guns to beat Lee at night.”
Johnson could have hit, say, Laynce Nix at cleanup rather than Marrero, but Marrero hitting fourth breaks up left-handers Nix and Rick Ankiel in the order. Plus, about Marrero, Johnson said, “I’m just giving him a little compliment on the way he’s swinging the bat.”
Lombardozzi will make only his fourth start since his Sept. 6 call-up and will play third for the first time. While Lombardozzi has received irregular playing, Johnson said that is not a reflection of how he sees Lombardozzi.
“I had a conversation with him earlier last week,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘I don’t want you to think how I’m using is how I think your future in the big leagues is.’ I said, ‘I look at you as an everyday player. I look at you predominantly as a second baseman who could play short or third. Don’t read anything into it whereas I’m trying to make you a utility player.’ ”