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Posted at 04:53 PM ET, 03/24/2011

Henry Rodriguez will start on DL; rotation almost set

I can’t say I’m surprised about this, but Jim Riggleman indicated reliever Henry Rodriguez will begin the year on the disabled list. He didn’t come right out and say so, but Rodriguez will not throw off the mound for several days and he will be able to pitch in games until he gets ample work off a mound. Opening day is six days away. “You can read between the lines,” Riggleman said.

Rodriguez has been dealing with neck spasms, Riggleman said. He received a shot the other day that provided relief, but he still needs time to work his mechanics back into order. Rodriguez has thrown just 2 1/3 innings this spring, all of them plagued by wildness.

Rodriguez’s place on the disabled list means the Nationals initial bullpen is probably settled: Drew Storen, Todd Coffey, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett, Doug Slaten, Brian Broderick, Chad Gaudin.

Collin Balester is making a strong case for himself. Roster considerations (read: he has an option) will likely force him to the minors to start the year. But if he continues to pitch as he has, Balester will likely make an impact at some point this year.

Meanwhile, in the starting rotation, the Nationals have almost settled on what order they will use. Livan Hernandez will start opening, Jason Marquis will be the fourth starter and Tom Gorzelanny will be the fifth starter. Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan will pitch second and third in some order, but the Nationals have not yet decided.

And here is tonight’s lineup, which will face Tigers right-handed Rick Porcello:

1. Nyjer Morgan, DH

2. Jayson Werth, RF

3. Adam LaRoche, 1B

4. Michael Morse, LF

5. Rick Ankiel, CF

6. Ian Desmond, SS

7. Jerry Hairston, 3B

8. Ivan Rodriguez, C

9. Danny Espinosa, 2B

By  |  04:53 PM ET, 03/24/2011

 
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