Espinosa getting a "mental break" day (plus tonight's lineups)

For the most part, Davey Johnson's lineups have been pretty consistent over the first 10 games of the season.

Today, the Nationals lineup has a bit of a new look.

Danny Espinosa will get the day off today, as Johnson wants to get his second baseman a "mental break" day. Steve Lombardozzi will start at second and hit second tonight against the Astros.

Espinosa is hitting just .194 in 36 at-bats this season with 10 strikeouts. Lombardozzi, meanwhile, has gotten only seven at-bats through the season's first week and a half.

"I told Espi it's just more of a mental break," Johnson said. " 'I know you're not tired. You've played almost every inning under me since I've been here. I like you a lot, but I see you mentally pressing a little bit.' And he's not alone."

Johnson also singled out Ryan Zimmerman as another guy who is pressing at the plate, and he plans on giving the third baseman a day off

"Your guys that have a lot of makeup are trying to do too much, trying to make it happen," Johnson said. "And what happens is you end up expanding the zone, get yourself out more than you should."

Zimmerman's "mental break" day is unlikely to come during this homestand, however. Johnson said he would likely wait until the Nats hit the road to give the All-Star third baseman a break.

Why wait until the end of the homestand?

"I don't want the fans to lynch me," Johnson deadpanned.

"I've learned how fans get attached to players," he added. "I've had times where I take out a pitcher in New York and I say you ain't going nowhere, you're with me. Because they're not going to cheer you and boo me coming back. We're going to both go in there together. You just learn those things."

Here are the Nats and Astros lineups for tonight's game:

Nationals
SS Ian Desmond
2B Steve Lombardozzi
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
LF Xavier Nady
CF Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
P Stephen Strasburg

Astros
CF Jordan Schafer
SS Jed Lowrie
LF J.D. Martinez
1B Carlos Lee
RF Travis Buck
3B Chris Johnson
C Jason Castro
2B Jose Altuve
P Kyle Weiland

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