Nationals adjust with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman missing from lineup


(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Nationals are awaiting MRI exam results on Ryan Zimmerman’s balky right shoulder. Scott Hairston joined Wilson Ramos and Doug Fister on the disabled list Sunday morning. Bryce Harper is on the bench with a 3-for-21, 10-strikeout slump. The Braves have beat them two games in a row. Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano have been laid low by the flu. And Game 6 of 162 will come in two hours.

“What are we, five games into this?” pitching coach Steve McCatty said. “There’s a lot of time left. It’s baseball. Adapt. Adjust. Overcome.”

The Nationals will adjust today with a lineup no one could have predicted would appear all season, let alone the first week. With Harper on the bench, new addition Kevin Frandsen will play left field in his place. The start likely would have gone to Hairston, but he suffered an oblique strain and landed on the disabled list. The Nationals called up Tyler Moore from Class AAA Syracuse.

Frandsen, whom the Nationals signed March 26, provides versatility. But he has not played outfield in a major league game since 2010. He stayed sharp this spring shagging batting practice in the outfield. He also worked with Phillies outfield coach Juan Samuel.

“It’s one of those things you have in your back pocket,” Frandsen said. “Is it easy? Not all the time. It’s something different than the infield. At the same, just be an athlete. Go out and catch a ball.”

Frandsen will bat second in his first start, in a position he hasn’t played in years, in place of Harper. He has grown accustomed to difficult assignments, and he embraces the role.

“As a bench guy, that’s part of your deal,” Frandsen said. “You’re there to give guys breaks. Hopefully, there’s not a big drop off. Obviously, my pop is not as big as Bryce. But that’s okay. I used to back up Barry Bonds. I’m used to that.”

With Zimmerman out of the lineup, Anthony Rendon will move to third and Danny Espinosa, who has had a strong start to the year, will play second base.

Though he will start the game on the bench, Denard Span suffered no injury. Matt Williams told Span on Friday he would get today off so he would not face left-hander Alex Wood, and so Span could receive two days off, including Monday’s off day. Nate McLouth is playing center in his place.

Nationals

1. Anthony Rendon, 3B

2. Kevin Frandsen, LF

3. Jayson Werth, RF

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Ian Desmond, SS

6. Danny Espinosa, 2B

7. Nate McLouth, CF

8. Sandy Leon, C

9. Taylor Jordan, SP

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