With last year's starting left fielder Michael Morse nursing his way back from a left lat injury, the Nationals have used several different lineups in the outfield. Manager Davey Johnson has employed an outfield by committee early on, with injuries and rough starts contributing to the alterations, even from game to game.
For instance on Monday, Xavier Nady played left field, Rick Ankiel played center and Jayson Werth was in right.
On Tuesday, by contrast, Johnson called for Nady in left, Werth in center and Mark DeRosa in right.
On opening day against the Chicago Cubs, DeRosa started in left, Roger Bernadina was in center and Werth was in right.
On April 11 against the New York Mets, Johnson started DeRosa in left, Werth in center and Nady in right.
"In the spring, I was basically playing DeRosa in left," Johnson said. "Occasionally I would play Werth in center and Nady in right, and nobody really said anything. DeRosa said he actually liked right better than left. Normally, if I had known that in spring I would have flipped it around.
"I was going by what (third base coach) Bo Porter said. Bo said Nady had played a lot of right, and DeRosa had played more left. So, I went on that. They both have about the same range and similar arms."
Johnson said he rotated DeRosa and Nady early in the season because DeRosa has a tender wrist and Nady was only in spring training for little over a week.
Johnson believed if DeRosa was completely healthy from the outset, he would have been the left fielder full time, because he had "a phenomenal spring."
But DeRosa has scuffled at the start, with only two hits in his first 22 at-bats. Johnson said Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein has talked with DeRosa about his slow beginning.
"(DeRosa) probably feels like he is letting the club down," Johnson said. "He has been a great influence. He is going to hit. I am not worried about him."
DeRosa is also crucial to the development of the younger players on the team. Johnson points out that DeRosa's fundamentals are exactly what he would say to a player and that sometimes when it comes from a teammate it can be more meaningful.
"He pays attention," Johnson said. "He has been like a sixth or seventh coach on the club. Whether it is hitting (or) fielding, he has been an outstanding influence. All the stuff he is reporting to the player, that is what I preach and what Eckstein preaches. So it is in that same vein."
Johnson said DeRosa's experience playing alongside some of today's legends might resonate with some of the younger Nationals rather than what he saw during his playing days.
"Being teammates with Chipper (Jones) or (Albert) Pujols gives a little more credibility than me playing with (Ted) Williams or (Hank) Aaron," Johnson said. "He is great to have around. I enjoy talking to him. And he hits (tonight's pitcher Wandy Rodriguez) pretty good."
Johnson said Bernadina will start Wednesday's game against RHP Lucas Harrell.
"Bernie had a good spring, but then he has been a little cold to start the season," Johnson said. "I haven't given up on him."