First Wang, now Lannan

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - A day that started with Chien-Ming Wang’s strong intrasquad start continues here as the Nationals prepare to take on the Mets at Digital Domain Park.

It was just a 75-minute drive south from the Nats’ facilities in Viera here to the Mets’ complex, which, from my perspective, is actually fairly nice considering I had multiple people tell me it’s “a dump” on my way in.

To be fair, though, this is only the third spring training stadium I’ve stepped foot in since taking over the Nats beat last week.

Bryce Harper will get the start in right field again today and will hit sixth, marking the third time in four games (including Friday’s exhibition against Georgetown) that Harper has been in the Nats’ starting lineup. In the one game that he didn’t start - yesterday’s contest against the Astros - Harper came off the bench in the fifth inning and got two at-bats.

In his pregame session with reporters, manager Davey Johnson was asked if he’s considering giving Harper a day off one of these days.

“(Shoot), he’s 19!” Johnson replied with a giant smile.

Johnson will send lefty John Lannan to the mound tonight for his first start of spring. Lannan is in an interesting spot this spring; he led the Nationals in wins last season (10) and yet he’s certainly not guaranteed a spot in the Nats’ now-crowded rotation.

With Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson in place, it appears to be down to Lannan and Wang for the fifth spot in the rotation.

But Johnson isn’t willing to look that far ahead just yet, saying he wants to get a look at all his guys before starting to pencil names into rotation spots.

He got to watch Wang throw this afternoon; tonight, he’ll get his first look at Lannan.

“I like him,” Johnson said of the lefty. “I think he’s only going to get better. I think he’s learning more about himself. Last year was the first time I really had a chance to watch him work up close. I saw him really good (but) sometimes I saw him overthrowing early in games. When he uses that really good sinker he’s got, he can make it look easy.

“Basically, with the new additions or whatever, I’m kind of in a situation where I’ve got six or seven starters that I really like, and I’ll do just what I tell general managers to do - keep an open mind. (The players will) decide.”

Dan Kolko was named’s Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site’s deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the “George Michael Sports Machine” in Washington, D.C.

Follow Dan Kolko on Twitter: @DanKolko

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