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Posted at 01:41 PM ET, 04/02/2012

With Rick Ankiel starting the year on the DL, the Nationals’ opening day roster is almost set


Chad Tracy makes the team. (Paul Sancya - AP)
The Nationals will place center fielder Rick Ankiel on the disabled list to begin the season with tightness in his left quadriceps, the first in a string of dominoes that effectively finalizes their opening day roster.

The Nationals, Manager Davey Johnson said, expect both Ankiel and Michael Morse, who will also start the season in the disabled list, to return during the Nationals first homestand, which begins April 12. They are scheduled to start the season rehabbing with Class AA Harrisburg. Ankiel is eligible to come off the DL April 12, while Morse is first eligible to play April 10.

With Ankiel joining Morse on the sidelines, the Nationals will keep all remaining players in their major league camp, officially giving opening day roster spots to Brett Carroll, Xavier Nady, Atholton native Steve Lombardozzi and Chad Tracy, whom Johnson called, “the most improved guy in camp.”

The Nationals entered the late stages of spring planning on starting Ankiel in center field. They could use either Jayson Werth or Roger Bernadina in his place. For opening day, Johnson said he is “leaning toward” playing Roger Bernadina in center field in Chicago on April 5.

Closer Drew Storen and Chien-Ming Wang, as expected, will also open the season on the disabled list. Storen planned to throw his second bullpen session today, with an eye on a mid-April return. Wang has been “rapidly improving,” Johnson said. He could begin the season rehabbing with Class A Potomac.

With Storen out, the Nationals face a decision at the end other end of their bullpen, a choice between Chad Durbin and Ryan Mattheus. The Nationals brought both pitchers with them on their trip today to Fort Myers, a caravan that will continue to Washington for the team’s exhibition Tuesday against the Red Sox.

Durbin will pitch today, and Mattheus is scheduled to pitch tomorrow in Washington. Both have pitched well, but the Nationals regard Durbin as more versatile, and he may have an edge for contractual reasons: Durbin can opt out of his minor league contract if he does not make the roster, and Mattheus has a minor league option remaining.

“I pretty much have got a good idea,” Johnson said. “All of them are good choices.”

With two games remaining before the opener, one today in Florida and tomorrow’s Washington exhibition, this is how the Nationals will look opening day:

STARTERS

1. Stephen Strasburg

2. Gio Gonzalez

3. Jordan Zimmermann

4. Edwin Jackson

5. John Lannan

RELIEVERS

6. Brad Lidge

7. Henry Rodriguez

8. Tyler Clippard

9. Sean Burnett

10. Ross Detwiler

11. Tom Gorzelanny

12. Ryan Mattheus or Chad Durbin

INFIELDERS

13. Ryan Zimmerman

14. Ian Desmind

15. Danny Espinosa

16. Adam LaRoche

OUTFIELDERS

17. Mark DeRosa

18. Roger Bernadina

19. Jayson Werth

CATCHERS

20. Wilson Ramos

21. Jesus Flores

BENCH

22. Brett Carroll

23. Chad Tracy

24. Steve Lombardozzi

25. Xavier Nady

By  |  01:41 PM ET, 04/02/2012

 
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