(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Ian Desmond, the Nationals’ stalwart shortstop, is out of Thursday’s lineup after feeling his back lock up during batting practice the day before. Desmond said his back didn’t bother him enough to keep him out of the lineup and he played four innings until Manager Davey Johnson doubled switched him out of the game in the fifth inning.

“His back is still a little stiff,” Johnson said before Thursday’s game. “On the safe side. He’s a tough cookie. He didn’t want to come out of the game yesterday. He was hurting. At least he admitted he wasn’t that much better this morning early. He’s been an ironman all year. I’ll surely miss him in the lineup but I don’t want to push him and make it worse.”

Desmond has started 124 of the Nationals’ 126 games.

Adam LaRoche is also out of the lineup in favor of right-hander Tyler Moore, and right-hander Scott Hairston is also in instead of Denard Span against left-hander Travis Wood. This is part of Johnson’s effort to platoon certain positions that have been weaker, and in this case it is the Nationals’ poor numbers against left-handed pitching.

>>> Dan Haren said he felt a little tired on Wednesday, the day after he made his start. He threw 103 pitches over six innings, only four days after he earned his career first save in a 15-inning marathon in Atlanta. In that span, Haren threw 126 pitches — not including his 35-pitch bullpen on Saturday and 20 or so pitches warming up in the bullpen.

Haren said he wouldn’t mind getting an extra day, but would see how he felt in the upcoming days. He is scheduled to start Sunday in Kansas City.

“We’ll not worry about it,” Johnson said. “Don’t have to address it for a while … I won’t make a decision until I have to.”

If Haren doesn’t feel ready, rookie right-hander Tanner Roark would be tabbed as the spot starter.


1. Bryce Harper, CF

2. Anthony Rendon, SS

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Jayson Werth, RF

5. Wilson Ramos, C

6. Tyler Moore, 1B

7. Scott Hairston, LF

8. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg, SP



1. Starlin Castro, S

2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

3. Dioner Navarro, C

4. Nate Shierholtz, RF

5. Junior Lake, CF

6. Donnie Murphy, 3B

7. Brian Bogusevic, LF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Travis Wood, SP