Gonzalez takes hill vs. Cardinals (plus Sunday’s lineup)

With only four teams on Florida’s East Coast for spring training, someone has to bite the bullet when it comes to scheduling Grapefruit League games. Today, it’s the Nationals, who make their second trip to Jupiter, Fla., in three days, this time for an exhibition contest against the Cardinals.

The nearly two-hour drive to Roger Dean Stadium isn’t really a bad one - it’s straight down Interstate 95 from Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. But since the Nats are doing it two days after they made the same trek to play the Marlins on Friday night, and one day after part of their team made an equally long trip to Lakeland, Fla., for a split-squad game, and after losing an hour’s sleep overnight - well, suffice it to say it’s not a perfect situation.

Gio Gonzalez gets the start today against the Cardinals, his second of the spring. The lefty has looked pretty impressive in camp drills so far, and he’s an effusive personality in the clubhouse, where he’s always got a smile on his face time to chat about the game.

Here’s today’s lineup:

CF - Eury Perez
LF - Roger Bernadina
2B - Danny Espinosa
1B - Adam LaRoche
DH - Jason Michaels
C - Wilson Ramos
RF - Brett Carroll
3B - Anthony Rendon
SS - Andres Blanco
P - Gio Gonzalez

We’ll see how LaRoche fares in back-to-back games for the first time this spring. He’s been champing at the bit and made his spring debut yesterday, but expect manager Davey Johnson to take a cautious approach - in other words, an at-bat or two, a few innings on the field and then a seat on the bench.

Still no Bryce Harper, who is battling back from a left calf strain. Johnson said Harper would probably be out through the weekend, as he likes to see a player go through full workouts and then take an additional day before returning to the lineup.

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