CHICAGO - Since he used somewhat of a mixture of his A and B bullpens yesterday, the relievers manager Davey Johnson will lean on today will mostly be the guys who didn't get work in the Nationals' 7-4 win on Saturday.
Hello, Brad Lidge.
Lefties Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny could also be called on today, especially since Cubs manager Dale Sveum has written in a lineup that includes all four of his available left-handed hitters.
Xavier Nady will get his first appearance of 2012 today, as he'll start in left field and hit seventh. Nady joined the Nationals late this spring and only got 22 Grapefruit League at-bats, which Johnson acknowledges isn't enough to get him fully ready for the season. Still, Johnson feels confident the veteran outfielder will still be able to perform.
"No, he's not where he needs to be," Johnson said. "He swung the bat really good for me in the short time he was there (in spring). I think, what'd he have, eight or nine days there? He doesn't probably need a whole lot of time because he's one of those thou-shalt-not-pass guys. If he sees it and he likes it, he goes to hack at it. But I didn't want him to sit too long."
Johnson feels guys like Nady and Chad Tracy can come in and play effectively without consistent at-bats because they're used to coming off the bench. That's something which might not be as easy for a young guy like, for example, Steve Lombardozzi, who is used to playing every day.
Wilson Ramos is in the Nationals' lineup for the third straight day today because Johnson wants to get him on a roll, but the Nats' skipper says he hopes to get backup catcher Jesus Flores some at-bats soon.
"My main concern right now is getting Willy feeling real comfortable back there," Johnson said. "He's a workhorse. Very strong, and I need to kind of wear him down a little bit. But I definitely want to make sure Flores gets plenty of playing time."
Johnson indicated yet again that he would consider going with 11 pitchers and 14 position players at some point later in the season, but would not think about that just yet when Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel return from injury. Johnson said he would wait until the Nationals' starters are more stretched out before limiting the number of arms he has down in the bullpen.
Morse is back in the lineup at Double-A Harrisburg today after getting yesterday off. He will DH for the Senators, while Ankiel will play center field.
Johnson indicated that while Morse had a bit of a setback the other day when he felt his strained lat while throwing, he still could be on track to return in a few days. The Nationals' left fielder would first be eligible to return from the DL on Tuesday.