Lombardozzi capitalizing on increased role

Not so slowly, Steve Lombardozzi's story is becoming more than a feel-good local angle.

As Lombardozzi continues to perform, his role with the Nationals appears to be increasing.

The Maryland native was back in the lineup Friday in Atlanta, leading off and playing left field for his third start in four games and fourth in six contests. He had started just 13 of the team's first 39 games this season.

The versatile 23-year-old has played second, third, short and left for the Nats so far this year and has contributed at the plate as well. He entered the series opener against the Braves batting .317 with five doubles, five RBIs, seven runs scored and a .385 on-base percentage in 33 games played.

lombardozzi-swinging-white-sidebar.jpgThat's a marked improvement over Lombardozzi's major league numbers in 2011, when he batted .194 (6-for-31) with one double, one RBI and three runs scored in his first 13 career games.

It's not like Lombardozzi has come out of nowhere, however. Selected in the 19th round of the 2008 draft, he went into this season considered the Nationals' seventh-best prospect by Baseball America and eighth-best by Baseball Prospectus - after the departures of four touted youngsters in the Gio Gonzalez trade. BA also listed him as the organization's best defensive infielder.

He turned that promise into a spot on the opening day roster and now with production, he's turning it into more consistent playing time.

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