Johnson on Nats' loss, Young and Soriano's mound sessions

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals might have had six projected opening day starters in their lineup this afternoon against the Marlins, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the line score from today's 5-1 loss.

Davey Johnson's bunch, which included Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche for the first time this spring, managed just three hits, only one of which came in the first seven innings.

"Kind of a lackluster day. Dog day," Johnson said. "Put my big guys in there, slows us down."

The top four guys in the Nationals' order today - Denard Span, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche - combined to go 0-for-8 with a walk.

Werth struck out looking twice in his two appearances, but that shouldn't come as a surprise this early in spring. The veteran outfielder likes getting his feet wet in the early stages of camp (both in live batting practice and in very early exhibition games) by tracking pitches, rarely putting swings on the ball but instead watching it get deep in the zone and getting a read on movement.

"Kind of figured he was going to take it slow," Johnson said. "Might've been rushing it getting him in there today. But he enjoyed it."

Dan Haren allowed a run on two hits in his first inning of work, but looked to have much better command in the second, when he set down the Marlins in order with two strikeouts. Haren threw 35 pitches in his spring debut.

"I thought Haren threw the ball good, first time out," Johnson said. "Felt better the second inning, obviously. Made better pitches."

Johnson got positive reports on Chris Young, who threw live batting practice this afternoon to a group of Nationals hitters.

The plan now is to have Young enter a Grapefruit League game in relief on March 3, piggy-backing Ross Detwiler, who will start that day.

Johnson also liked what he heard on Rafael Soriano's live BP session, and now has an idea of how he'll be using Soriano over the next few weeks.

"He threw great to the hitters today and worked out a schedule that he's comfortable with," Johnson said. "He's got about eight (spring) appearances he's going to have. He's going to go back-to-back (games) one time before opening day."

It sounds like Soriano will make his spring debut March 5 at home against the Astros.

The Nats are letting Soriano give his input on how he'd like to be used throughout spring, and the 11-year veteran had one main request: that he avoid facing the Nationals' National League East division opponents as much as possible.

"He doesn't like to pitch against a lot of the division clubs," Johnson said. "But Clip (Tyler Clippard) is close coming back, Henry (Rodriguez is) throwing to hitters tomorrow. We're getting there."

Johnson said that Bryce Harper will be given the day off tomorrow for the Nationals' 6:05 p.m. home game against the Mets. That game will be aired on MASN.

Not to worry, however; Johnson's lineup tomorrow is currently scheduled to contain Span, Werth, LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Chad Tracy, Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Moore.

Oh, yeah, and Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound. You should get your fill of the Nats' big names on our MASN broadcast.

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