Davey Johnson in no rush to use Nationals bench

The clarity of the Nationals’ lineup on a day-in, day-out basis is one sign of their strength as a team. Their regulars are good enough that there are no thoughts of platooning. The one drawback of such an arrangement showed during the Nationals’ first series of the year, as the Nationals’ bench players, mostly, stayed on the bench.

Steve Lombardozzi received two plate appearances, Chad Tracy took one at-bat, Roger Bernadina appeared only as a pinch runner and Tyler Moore did not play at all. The Nationals will play a day game Saturday after tonight, a potential opportunity to rest a starting position player. Manager Davey Johnson isn’t planning on it.

“It’s a little early for that,” Johnson said. “It’s too early in the year to think about resting guys just to get people in the lineup.”

Johnson noted that first baseman Adam LaRoche received treatment today for a stiff back, but that LaRoche felt fine by the time batting practice rolled around. Johnson was not concerned about LaRoche and plans to play him again Saturday. LaRoche has started the season 0 for 10 with a walk, but he clobbered several balls into the wind at Nationals Park. “He hit the ball hard,” Johnson said. “Just nothing dropped.”

Danny Espinosa also had a rough first series, going 0 for 11 as he transferred his new swing from the spring to the regular season. Today, Espinosa was the lone everyday player to take early batting practice. Johnson stood behind the cage and watched him hit.

“He looks good. He and [Ian Desmond] both expanded, the competitiveness in them, wanting to do something, they expanded the zone a little bit,” Johnson said. “That’s no good. I like the way they’re swinging the bat in the spring. I know they know who they are.”

Adam Kilgore covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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Adam Kilgore · April 5, 2013