Lombardozzi to lead off tonight, plus a Morse update

VIERA, Fla. - Remember about three hours ago, when I wrote that Davey Johnson was committed to hitting Ian Desmond leadoff and Danny Espinosa in the two-hole?

Yeah, toss all that stuff out the window, at least for today.

Johnson's lineup for tonight's game against the Mets has an interesting twist, with Steve Lombardozzi playing third base and leading off, followed in the order by Desmond and Espinosa.

This particular configuration makes sense, given Lombardozzi's .369 career on-base percentage in the minor leagues. On days when the 23-year-old utility infielder is in the lineup, he might very well sit at the top of the order, but again, the Nationals like where Desmond and Espinosa are at right now. Those two will man the middle infield spots, as well as the top two spots in the order, most nights once the regular season begins.

Rick Ankiel makes his return to the lineup tonight, playing center field, after missing time due to a quad injury. Ankiel last appeared in a game back on March 9.

Meanwhile, left fielder Michael Morse is still in the middle of a week-long break from baseball activities. He's been told not to do anything which might cause his strained lat muscle to flare up, so Morse has been doing a whole lot of nothing - and getting quite bored as a result.

Morse says he still isn't concerned about the injury, which has kept him from appearing in a game in left field yet this spring. He'll try and stay busy as much as possible and when he gets the go-ahead from the training staff, he'll get back to work.

If you're wondering why Drew Storen has only thrown two innings this spring and hasn't appeared in a game since March 7, it's because he's been sick. Storen should be able to return to game action soon.

Today is the first day we'll see a Nats pitcher grab a bat and take his cuts in a game setting. Stephen Strasburg will hit in the ninth spot in tonight's lineup.

Here is that lineup for tonight's game in Port St. Lucie:

3B Steve Lombardozzi
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Mark DeRosa
C Wilson Ramos
CF Rick Ankiel
LF Brett Carroll
RF Roger Bernadina
P Stephen Strasburg

Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus, Atahualpa Severino and Henry Rodriguez are scheduled to follow Strasburg tonight.

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