VIERA, Fla. - By the time yesterday’s game against the Yankees was three innings old, Steve Lombardozzi had already gone 2-for-2 with a home run off CC Sabathia and made two dazzling defensive plays at third base.
He jogged back into the dugout and was greeted by manager Davey Johnson, who had a question for the 23-year-old infielder.
“I said, ‘What, are you trying to make this club or something?’ ” Johnson said.
How’d Lombardozzi respond?
“Just nodded, then he got another hit,” Johnson said.
Sounds like Lombardozzi, all right. The guy doesn’t exactly run off at the mouth, but he does know how to get the job done.
After yesterday’s 3-for-3 effort, Lombardozzi is now 9-of-27 (.333) this spring, and he’s shown his versatility by sliding all over the infield, getting time at second, short and even at third.
Yesterday, it was time to move to the hot corner, a position Lombardozzi hasn’t gotten a lot of time at but is willing to play because he knows the more he can do, the better a chance he has of heading north with the Nats.
“I haven’t had much experience there, but I don’t know. It’s fun,” he said. “I’m learning. I’m picking guys brains on how to play over there, but the biggest thing for me over there is just to be aggressive on the balls and react.”
Lombardozzi doesn’t have a spot on the Nationals’ bench locked up, but he’s getting close and will likely serve as the team’s backup middle infielder behind Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Days like yesterday sure won’t hurt his chances.
“I’m trying to fight for a spot here,” Lombardozzi said, “so that was a good day.”
Here’s the Nats’ lineup for today against the Marlins:
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Mark DeRosa
1B Chad Tracy
RF Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
CF Bryce Harper
LF Roger Bernadina
Harper gets yet another start in center, with Werth serving as the right fielder. Still no sign of Michael Morse in the lineup; he’s still battling a lat strain.
Jordan Zimmermann will start for the Nats, with Ryan Mattheus and Henry Rodriguez scheduled to follow.