Johnson talks Strasburg limits, plus Nats, Mets lineups

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Greetings from Tradition Field, where the sun is out and the breeze is, as well.

A nice wind is blowing out to center this afternoon, and the Nationals were taking full advantage during batting practice. One BP group, made up of Bryce Harper, Tyler Moore, Chris Marrero and Micah Owings, sent dozens of souvenirs out to the fans beyond the fence, and Moore and Marrero even tattooed a couple balls off the scoreboard in left-center.

We could have quite a show out here today.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson will hold Stephen Strasburg to about 45 pitches this afternoon in the Grapefruit League opener. That more than likely will result in just two innings of work for the righty, but Strasburg could be stretched out to three innings if he's pitch-efficient.

Go ahead, make your jokes about Strasburg and innings limits now.

Because of how long spring training is this year, Johnson said he wants Strasburg to come along slowly and eventually get to the point that he can throw 100 pitches come opening day.

"More than anything, early on, it's building up the arm strength," Johnson said. "Early in my managerial career, I used to hold guys to fastball, changeup. We've evolved to the point that everyone comes in throwing curveballs, sliders, forkballs. But I've always been conservative. I like, the first time out, just a couple pitches, mostly fastball. I still like to see that, because I want the arm strength to get to a certain point before they start pitching like they're going to pitch during the season."

Micah Owings will start as the DH today, hitting in the ninth hole. Johnson joked that he put the former pitcher at the bottom of the lineup in order to make him a bit more comfortable, seeing as how he's used to that No. 9 spot.

Owings will eventually move over to first base and get some time there later in the game once Chris Marrero has come out. Johnson said he plans to play Owings the full nine innings.

Here are today's lineups:

For the Nats
CF Denard Span
2B Steve Lombardozzi
LF Bryce Harper
RF Tyler Moore
3B Chad Tracy
SS Ian Desmond
1B Chris Marrero
C Chris Snyder
DH Micah Owings
P Stephen Strasburg

For the Mets
CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
SS Ruben Tejada
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
RF Marlon Byrd
LF Lucas Duda
C John Buck
2B Justin Turner
DH Jordany Valdespin
P Shaun Marcum

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