The Nationals’ first lineup, injury updates, etc.

February 24, 2014

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The Nationals have only three more practices between now and their Grapefruit League opener, a short enough time that they have planned their first lineup. The Nationals will wait until after live batting practice tomorrow to determine their starting pitcher, and this could change. But here’s how the Nationals are planning on playing the Mets on Friday:

1. Nate McLouth, RF

2. Danny Espinosa, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Ian Desmond, SS

6. Wilson Ramos, C

7. Tyler Moore, DH

8. Scott Hairston, LF

9. Michael Taylor, CF

** After resting for several days with minor back stiffness, Tyler Clippard threw an extended bullpen session on Monday morning. “All good,” he said. “Normal.” Manager Matt Williams said Clippard looked good.

Clippard, who has thrown the most innings of any reliever in baseball over the past three seasons, normally paces himself during spring training and isn’t considered behind schedule after the days off.
“We don’t want to build [one-inning relievers] too much early,” Williams said. “We want them ready for opening day. Generally, we get them going late than everybody else. Their innings are down compared to, certainly, starters and multiple-inning guys. We look at it and say, ‘How many appearances are we gonna need?’ Give ourselves a little time pre- and post- in case we have to do another one. He’s fine. He’s right on track.”
Infielder Josh Johnson was scheduled to see a doctor on Monday after dealing with wrist soreness, according to Williams. Results are pending.

** Before today’s hitting contest among pitchers, the Nationals worked on popups. Manager Matt Williams showed his penchant for detail. Second baseman Anthony Rendon called for one pop fly in shallow right field as Jayson Werth sprinted in. Rendon squeezed the ball without risking collision, but Williams wanted to make one thing clear.

“JW, can you hear him?” Williams yelled out to right.

“I can today,” Werth said. “But not with people yelling.”

Williams nodded. He told Rendon, “Don’t be afraid to wave your hands.”

On another popup in shallow right-center field, shortstop Ian Desmond hustled all the way over and called off Rendon. Desmond snared the ball and narrowly avoided a collision. “Ball hog!” Williams yelled.

** Between Williams, General Manager Mike Rizzo, assistant GM Doug Harris, director of player development Mark Scialabba and several other coaches and front office officials, the Nationals’ brain trust may have less hair than any in the majors. International scouting director Johnny DiPuglia, follicly bereft himself, swung through camp today with a gift for his fellow cue balls: red T-shirts that read, “Balditude.”

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.
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