Adam LaRoche will return to the Nationals lineup this afternoon for the first time since March 15. LaRoche has been playing in minor league games, and yesterday he ran the bases for the first time. The bone bruise in his left foot responded well, so doctors cleared him to play.

(Paul Sancya/AP)

If you haven’t picked up on what Johnson means, he is predicting LaRoche will be striking out and walking to the first base dugout rather than rounding bases.

“I told him the same thing,” Johnson said. “That’s what was the deciding factor in him playing today.”  

Xavier Nady, suddenly the man of the moment, is playing right field today. Jayson Werth is in center only because Roger Bernadina is attending his father’s funeral, and Rick Ankiel is resting minor tightness in his left quadriceps.  

Here’s the full Nationals lineup facing Braves left-hander Mike Minor.

1. Ian Desmond, SS

2. Danny Espinosa, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Jayson Werth, CF

5. Mark DeRosa, LF

6. Adam LaRoche, 1B

7. Xavier Nady, RF

8. Wilson Ramos, C

9. Edwin Jackson, SP

 The Nationals also have a split-squad game tonight, and bless those on the trip. The starter is Mitch Atkins, a right-hander the Nationals signed as a minor league free agent in February. He made three starts for the Orioles last year, putting up an 8.44 ERA. Here’s that lineup.

1. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B

2. Xavier Paul, CF

3. Chad Tracy, DH

4. Jesus Flores, C

5. Mark Teahen, LF

6. Jarrett Hoffpauir, 3B

7. Corey Brown, CF

8. Tim Pahuta, RF

9. Josh Johnson, SS

-Mitch Atkins, SP