Pregame nuggets from the Nationals' skipper

How will the Nationals prepare for the heat and humidity which figures to affect their starters to at least some extent over the next couple days?

Manager Davey Johnson said - apparently half-joking, half-serious - that the fire department is on site at Nationals Park tonight.

"We're contemplating IVs today," Johnson said. "Stay tuned."

Braves starter Tim Hudson normally gets a bag of IV fluids on the day that he starts in order to fend off dehydration, something which Johnson was informed about recently.

"That's probably not a bad idea," he said.

Stephen Strasburg needed three IVs after his last start, in which he went just three innings and left due to heat-related issues.

Drew Storen is back with the Nationals after making his first rehab appearance yesterday. He went one inning, needing just eight pitches to retire the side in order, and then got in some extra work in the bullpen after the outing.

Johnson has talked about how he plans to ease Storen back into action once he returns and will use him in a set-up role, with Tyler Clippard remaining the closer. What that said, Johnson made sure to point out today that he still looks at Storen as "the eventual closer."

What the skipper might do, once Storen is comfortable pitching back in the major leagues, is go back to the "A" and "B" bullpens, which he used early this season when Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez shared the closer's duties. Such an arrangement would allow Johnson to keep Storen, Clippard, Sean Burnett and his other back-end bullpen guys fresh as we get deeper into the season.

"Ideally, if you're going to win a whole lot of games, that's a whole lot of innings for just a small number of guys, if you do that," Johnson said. "So I don't want to overwork any of my bullpen guys, so therefore I do have them divided, and I will have them divided again. But it's also good to have those guys who can go multiple days in a row, even setting up."

Meanwhile, Ian Desmond has now hit two opposite-field homers in the last three days, or as Desmond put it, two more opposite-field homers than he's had throughout the entire rest of his professional career.

Normally a pull-hitter, Desmond has been showing more power to the opposite field this season, especially of late.

"Before, he was taking balls and trying to guide it to right field," Johnson said. "Even inside pitches, outside pitches, he was trying to serve it over there. He understands dropping the head on it with a little something on it and hitting it hard where it's pitched. And that's the kind of hitter he is. And he knows it. So he's in that attack mode to have extension. And even when he went the other way the other (day), he was extending (his arms) instead of letting it get so deep that he fought it off.

"The year I hit 43 (home runs), I hit probably eight home runs to right field. But I wasn't turning inside-out on them. The ball was away and I put the hammer on it. But he's got more power than I had. He's a strong individual."

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