For the fourth straight game, Tyler Moore and Carlos Rivero are in the Nationals lineup. Steve Lombardozzi, the Nationals’ jack of all trades last season, has played in three games already and made the trip to Lake Buena Vista for Tuesday’s spring training game against the Braves.
It’s a conscious effort by Manager Davey Johnson to get the regular season bench players as many at-bats as possible during spring training, a way to get them ready and sharp and keep them active. While Rivero’s future is dependent on his spring performance, Moore and Lombardozzi again figure to be important and versatile bench players this season. Chad Tracy and Roger Bernadina would also be in the same situation as Moore and Lombardozzi with getting a lot of early at-bats so far in the spring had it not been for a minor arm injury and the World Baseball Classic, respectively.
Lombardozzi has also been playing a lot because of Johnson’s reluctance to lean heavily on Danny Espinosa early, too. Espinosa, who has said he feels good after strengthening the muscles in his left shoulder this winter because of a torn rotator cuff, is starting on Tuesday and will more this week. Johnson said Espinosa will be the designated hitter on Wednesday and play again the next day.
Kurt Suzuki is scheduled to make his spring training debut behind the plate on Wednesday’s game in Viera and will soon play back-to-back games, as soon as this weekend. Johnson has other reasons for delaying and lightening the work load of other veterans: Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder), Jayson Werth (likes to ease into action later in spring) and Adam LaRoche (who had a great 2012 season and didn’t play until late in the spring).
“[Moore and Lombardozzi] are young and I want them to have a lot of ABs in the spring,” Johnson said.
>>> Tracy, who was hit by a pitch in the upper right arm during Sunday’s game, was held out of action on Monday and Tuesday but is ready to play again, Johnson said. He will likely re-appear in the lineup on Wednesday.
>>> First baseman Micah Owings has been dealing with a seemingly minor hurt left wrist and will held out a couple more days, Johnson said.