Quick hits plus today's lineup

VIERA, Fla. - Manager Davey Johnson says that left fielder Michael Morse is feeling better after dealing with a lat strain the last few days, and he while he isn't ready to return to Grapefruit League action yet, he will get some extra hitting in during the next three to four days.

Same for Adam LaRoche, who will hit and run the bases today during an intrasquad minor league game after just taking some cuts during an intrasquad contest yesterday.

I'm going to pop over to the side fields in a few minutes and see if I can catch a few at-bats from LaRoche.

The Nationals will have their first round of cuts on Monday, Johnson said.

Infielder Andres Blanco is having some kind of ear procedure done to try and treat an infection. Johnson didn't have many details on what the procedure entailed, but it's probably safe to assume that Blanco will miss a couple days.

The Nats have a rough schedule coming up the next couple days, with a night game in Jupiter against the Marlins tomorrow and then split-squad games against the Mets (at home) and Tigers (on the road) on Saturday.

Chien-Ming Wang will pitch in the game here in Viera against the Mets, while John Lannan will made the trip to Lakeland to face the Tigers.

Reigning American League MVP Justin Verlander will be on the mound for Detroit on Saturday, and Johnson has decided to send Bryce Harper to Lakeland to have the 19-year-old square off against the power righty.

"I'm trying to build up his confidence," Johnson said, with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

Here's today's Nationals lineup for their 1 p.m. game against the Astros:

SS Steve Lombardozzi
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Mark DeRosa
DH Jayson Werth
LF Jason Michaels
C Wilson Ramos
RF Bryce Harper
CF Brett Carroll
P Edwin Jackson

The Nats will face Livan Hernandez for the second time in six days today. Following Jackson to the mound for Washington will be Ross Detwiler, Henry Rodriguez, Ryan Perry and Waldis Joaquin.

Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com'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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