Ankiel sidelined by hamstring tightness (plus Saturday lineups)

First baseman Adam LaRoche will make his long-awaited Grapefruit League debut today in the home side of a split-squad game against the Mets. However, Nationals manager Davey Johnson had to tinker with his lineup a little due to the unavailability of outfielder Rick Ankiel.

Ankiel is out today with a tight hamstring, and will be replaced in center field by Brett Carroll. Jason Michaels, who was supposed to DH today, will instead play left field, where Carroll originally was in the lineup posted yesterday. Wilson Ramos will now serve as the designated hitter.

LaRoche has been battling shoulder soreness related to last season’s surgery and his first appearance in a game was delayed after he sustained a mildly sprained ankle just before spring games started.

Outfielder Bryce Harper, who has been dealing with a left calf strain, remains on the shelf. But Nats fans will get their first look at right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, whose first Grapefruit League start had been delayed by some right shoulder stiffness. But Wang pitched in a minor league game earlier this week and came through without any problems.

Here’s today’s new lineup for the home split-squad game:

SS - Ian Desmond
2B - Mark DeRosa
3B - Ryan Zimmerman
1B - Adam LaRoche
RF - Jayson Werth
DH - Wilson Ramos
LF - Jason Michaels
CF - Brett Carroll
C - Sandy Leon
P - Chien-Ming Wang

Here’s the lineup for today’s split-squad road game in Lakeland, Fla., against the Tigers:

LF - Roger Bernadina
2B - Steve Lombardozzi
SS - Danny Espinosa
1B - Chad Tracy
DH - Jesus Flores
3B - Mark Teahen
RF - Corey Brown
C - Jhonatan Solano
CF - Eury Perez
P - John Lannan

No, that’s not a misprint: Espinosa is playing shortstop. Johnson said earlier this spring that he planned on giving Espinosa, his regular second baseman, some innings at shortstop so he’d have an insurance policy in case something happened to Ian Desmond.

Bench coach Randy Knorr will manage the squad taking on the Tigers.

Interesting move that Johnson has planned lineups using two catchers each, one behind the plate and one at designated hitter. The move allows Ramos and Flores - who will be DHs - to get some swings, while giving a longer look to Leon and Solano.

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