Johnson decided to give Strasburg regular, four-day rest before he begins his season and five days between his final two spring training starts. The schedule also ensures Strasburg will not have too much time between starts should weather postpone opening day. (The forecast for opening day in Chicago shows nothing but sun.)
No. 5 starter John Lannan had been in line to start Saturday. Instead, he will make his final spring training tune-up by relieving Strasburg, then throwing an inning or so in an exhibition at Nationals Park on Tuesday. Lannan will not throw a simulated game before his first start of the season, scheduled for April 10 in New York.
With a scheduled day off between opening day and their second game, the Nationals could have done some roster maneuvering by pushing back Lannan’s first regular season start. They could have optioned Lannan to the minors for a few days in order to create an extra roster spot, then recalled him in time to make his start. But that would have been more trouble than it’s worth.
“Never crossed my mind,” Johnson said. “I’ve got a lot of good players. I don’t need to. I also like to keep everybody in house.”
The Nationals have also decided to carry Drew Storen and Michael Morse with them back to Nationals Park for Tuesday’s exhibition. With Storen a certainty to start the year on the disabled list and Morse close to it, the Nationals will decide in Washington how they will prepare for the season.
“Storen and Morse are vital parts of this ball club,” Johnson said. “I wanted to keep them under my keen eye and tender, loving care. I was also worried about Storen getting his three vehicles back to D.C.”
The Nationals have not yet decided whether rehabbing starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang will travel with the team to Washington. Today, Wang slowly climbed stairs at Space Coast Stadium, his latest form of recovery for a strained left hamstring.