Back on bench, Lombardozzi trying to stay sharp (we’re finally under way)

There’s a monster storm heading towards Nationals Park, one which looks like it might play a factor both in what time the game begins and how long we’re stuck here this afternoon.

The Nationals and Mets have mutual off-days on Aug. 27 and Sept. 13, but with this being the Mets’ last visit to D.C. this season, they’ll do all they can to get this game in today, even if it means having everyone hang around for a while.

Steve Lombardozzi will be hanging around for the first few innings regardless of whether it rains or not. While Davey Johnson had indicated each of the last two days that Ian Desmond would get a day off today, allowing Lombardozzi to start, that’s not the case.

For the third straight game, Lombardozzi is not in the Nationals’ starting lineup, this after he had torn it up offensively in the eight games prior to Desmond’s return from the disabled list. Over that eight-game span, Lombardozzi hit .471 (16-for-34) with three doubles, a triple and three walks.

While the Nats are thrilled to have Desmond back in the fold, the timing of his return isn’t great for Lombardozzi, given his recent hot streak.

“You definitely want to keep playing,” Lombardozzi said today. “You’re feeling good, but that’s something that’s out of my hands. I can’t control if I’m in there, but I want to just continue what I’m doing and helping this team win.

“I was glad I was able to start getting on base and start making some things happen, because I kind of felt like I could’ve been doing a little better job before that road trip. So I was happy to get my swing kind of back in the right direction. But I’m here to do whatever it takes to help this team win.”

So what does Lombardozzi do to try and keep himself in the zone even when he’s not playing? How can he try and keep his streak going despite the lack of at-bats and time in the field?

“There’s not too much you can do to actually get game-simulated stuff,” he said. “But I’ll take some extra BP and continue doing my groundballs and my routines and stuff. But there’s not really one thing I can say that can simulate being in a game.”

One thing that’s been made clear this season is that the Nationals’ organizational depth is much improved over recent seasons. With as many injuries as they’ve suffered, the fact that the Nats could have rookies like Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore jump into the lineup, play positions largely unfamiliar to them and still perform at a high level shows how far the organization has come.

The Nationals bench is now filled with guys who have proven they can contribute when called upon and can be counted on in the upcoming playoff run.

“(It’s) huge,” Lombardozzi said. “Obviously, the number of injuries has been pretty wild, and we definitely don’t want guys getting hurt like that, but it gave me and Tyler a chance to get in there, and we were able to step up and help the team win and continue to win. So (I’m) definitely happy that I was able to take advantage of those situations and get a chance to play. At the same time, it’s good to have everybody back and healthy.”

Game Update: We’re about 25 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, and a team official has already announced that today’s game will not start on time.

No expected start time has been set yet, and after giving the radar a look, I have a hard time believing the Nats and Mets will be playing anytime soon.

Update II: After a lengthy rain delay, it’s been announced that first pitch is now set for 4:00 p.m.

Gio Gonzalez has started warming up in the outfield, and the rubber game of this three-game set with the Mets is almost under way.

Update III: We waited 2 hours, 26 minutes for this game to begin, and it finally has. The Nats and Mets are under way, with Gonzalez toeing the mound and looking for his 16th win of the season.

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