Nationals' Clippard says shoulder is fine, Johnson will rest him tonight

Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard said his shoulder is not bothering him as much as manager Davey Johnson might have led on after Sunday's loss to the Reds.

Clippard said he has the usual stiffness in his shoulder, but he feels that after any outing and says he is fine.

Johnson said he will look to rest Clippard and closer Brad Lidge tonight against the Astros. The pitching staff had to endure three extra-inning affairs in the four game set against Cincinnati, and Johnson wants to rest some guys tonight. That means he hopes Stephen Strasburg can go seven innings and have only two innings to fill from the bullpen.

"Clippard is alright," Johnson said. "Yesterday, he felt fine after the game. I think every year starting out he has trouble getting loose, but he is going to be fine. I talked to him yesterday before the game and I said 'I'd like to stay off you.' He said, 'I feel great (Sunday).' In the 11th inning, I had to go to him."

It is likely Sean Burnett would see time tonight if the situation presents itself. Johnson had him up three times and didn't use him against the Reds.

Johnson was also impressed with Craig Stammen's work to start the homestand. Stammen recorded two wins and had nine strikeouts in the series.

"He is invaluable as a long right(-handed reliever)," Johnson said. "That doesn't mean that I won't use him later in a game as I have. It doesn't mean I wouldn't use (Tom) Gorzelanny later in the game. But once you start changing roles around then somebody else has to change their role. But (Stammen) is a workhorse. He can go back-to-back if need be. Kind of like a guy we had a few years back, (Miguel) Batista."

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