Nats’ lineup has Ankiel in center, hitting seventh

Rick Ankiel will make his 2012 debut this afternoon against the Reds after missing the first eight games of the season due to a left quad injury.

The 32-year-old will bat seventh today and play center field after hitting .400 with three home runs during his rehab assignment. Ankiel said the quad is feeling good and he’s ready to get back out and rejoin his teammates at the major league level.

“The last few days, the first time I played nine, I felt like I was 100 percent then, so every day since then, it’s been good,” Ankiel said.

Ankiel only got 15 spring at-bats, so he doesn’t come into today’s game having seen a ton of pitches. Asked if he’s gotten enough ABs to get his swing where he wants it, Ankiel replied: “It is where it is.”

With Ankiel returning, Roger Bernadina’s playing time will get cut down, although he’ll now be in the mix to get some starts in left. Manager Davey Johnson thinks he has “3.5” guys that he could play in left, including Bernadina, Mark DeRosa, Xavier Nady and Steve Lombardozzi, with Lombardozzi serving as the “.5” in that group.

It’s still a “work in progress” determining who will start most of the time in left, Johnson said. These guys will get a chance to earn more playing time based on how they perform.

With Wilson Ramos catching 13 innings yesterday, Jesus Flores is behind the plate today.

Here are your lineups for today’s game:

SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
LF Xavier Nady
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jesus Flores
P Edwin Jackson

2B Willie Harris
SS Zack Cozart
1B Joey Votto
RF Jay Bruce
3B Miguel Cairo
LF Chris Heisey
CF Drew Stubbs
C Devin Mesoraco
P Homer Bailey

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