Nationals Manager Davey Johnson put a positive spin on Chien-Ming Wang’s injury — a strained hamstring suffered Thursday. Yes, Wang will be shut down for at least two weeks. Yes, Wang is still trying to build arm strength, having failed to complete three innings yet this spring. And yes, opening day is less than three weeks.

But according to Johnson, not only is Wang still in position to make his first start of the regular season (more on that later), but the two-week “breather” — if that’s all it is — may end up being a net positive.

“Looking on the positive side, it’s probably not a bad thing to have a little breather,” Johnson said. “That’s not the worst thing that can happen.”

Much of Johnson’s optimism undoubtedly stems from Wang’s impressive performance Thursday, prior to the injury. (“I expected it,” Johnson said, “and he even exceeded my expectations. . . . I didn't expect to see that kind of stuff until the end [of spring training].”)

But Johnson also revealed that Wang has been slotted all along as the fifth starter (something that was assumed, but never stated explicitly), which gives the Nationals some extra leeway to bring Wang back. Because of off-days, the Nationals don’t need a fifth starter until April 11.

“Shoot,” Johnson said, “by that [point], it's [darn] near four weeks.”

Asked whether he was ready to reveal the rest of his rotation’s order, Johnson said firmly, “No.”

Here are today’s lineups for the Yankees and Nationals, from Legends Field in Tampa. The original Nats lineup posted in the clubhouse had Bryce Harper in right field, and Brett Carroll in center, but Johnson switched them.


1. Ian Desmond, SS

2. Steve Lombardozzi, 3B

3. Mark DeRosa, 1B

4. Wilsom Ramos, DH

5. Jesus Flores, C

6. Jason Michaels, LF

7. Brett Carroll, RF

8. Bryce Harper, CF

9. Andres Blanco, 2B

-Gio Gonzalez, LHP


1. Curtis Granderson, CF

2. Robinson Cano, 2B

3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B

4. Mark Teixeira, 1B

5. Andruw Jones, RF

6. Raul Ibanez, DH

7. Francisco Cervelli, C

8. Bill Hall, LF

9. Doug Bernier, SS

-CC Sabathia, LHP