Some off-day talk

HOUSTON - Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Doug Fister and Scott Hairston are all already on the disabled list.

Denard Span spent time on the seven-day concussion DL earlier this season.

Taylor Jordan battled through four innings yesterday while dealing with a bout of the flu. Danny Espinosa has a sore knee after taking an Ian Kennedy curveball off his right kneecap.

The blows just keep on coming.

But as the Nationals have said in the past, and will continue to say, no one will feel sorry for them. Injuries are part of the game, and they'll have to battle through them, even if three of their eight opening day starting position players are now on the DL.

The Nats don't think Espinosa's knee injury is anything too severe, and today's off-day will allow him to rest up and possibly be ready for a two-game series against the Astros starting on Tuesday. We'll have to wait and see on that front, however.

As an aside, how tough is Espinosa? He got drilled squarely on that knee cap, collapsed to the ground, was down for a couple of minutes, then trotted to first base and stayed in the game for the next couple of innings before coming out in a double switch.

On the Jordan front, the right-hander lowered his ERA to 5.61 with his four gutsy innings yesterday. But while his illness might have contributed to decreased velocity in yesterday's loss, it's still concerning to see a guy whose fastball was consistently clocked at 94-95 mph last season now hitting 84 mph on the stadium gun.

Illness or no illness, that's never something you want to see, especially from a guy who had Tommy John surgery in 2011. I'm not implying there's something wrong with Jordan's arm, I'm just saying it was a bit distressing to see those radar readings yesterday.

If the only thing separating Fister from returning to the Nats' rotation is one more rehab start - and manager Matt Williams said yesterday that might very well be the case - that could mean Fister is back in a Nats uniform early next week.

Jordan's turn in the rotation would come up once more prior to then, but if the Nats wanted to, they could skip Jordan's spot. The off-days today and Thursday would allow Williams to go with a four-man rotation until Fister returns, potentially May 7 against the Dodgers, if he stays on turn.

Williams has said that he doesn't plan to do that as of now, and instead wants to use the off-days in order to give his starters some extra rest. The tough schedule the last few weeks - the Nats have played 20 games in as many days - isn't ideal early in the season, so rest isn't a bad thing.

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