Pregame notes: Zim, Marquis and Clippard

A few quick pregame items before the Nats and Rockies get started:

--Ryan Zimmerman is out of the lineup today, and available to pinch hit, though manager Jim Riggleman decided not to push it with Zimmerman. He composed the lineup before Zimmerman got to the ballpark, and his decision was validated when Zimmerman said his right hamstring felt a little sore. “To this point, I’m calling it a severe cramp. I’m not going to say he pulled something there,” Riggleman said. “We’ll know more as we go through the day and he gets treatment. But we’re certainly hoping it’s something that’s very short-term.”

--Jason Marquis is in Cincinnati, getting a second opinion on his right elbow from Dr. Tim Kremchek after an enhanced MRI found loose bodies in his elbow. The Nationals haven’t gotten an opinion back from Kremchek yet, and are waiting to see if Marquis might need arthroscopic surgery to clean out his elbow. General manager Mike Rizzo said Luis Atilano will pitch Friday in Marquis’ place, but hasn’t settled on a decision beyond that yet. “I’ve thought about it, and as you can imagine, I’ve thought about little else,” Rizzo said. “There’s no firm, and only one, decision that we have to make. ... That’ll be our short-term answer, and if it’s longer-term, we’ll see what happens.”

--Tyler Clippard, off to an impressive start so far this season with 14 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings, is effectively the Nationals’ setup man these days. “That’s what we want to use him as,” Riggleman said. “We’ve kind of gravitated toward that. He’s really done a good job. And when we get (Brian) Bruney going, we’ve got a nice, real loaded, end of our bullpen with those three (Clippard, Bruney and Matt Capps).”

Some of you have asked about Clippard being a starter, and Riggleman got that question today -- from his brother. Here was his response:

“I wasn’t here, but I guess he did start in the past. I’m not sure what took place that brought on the decision he was going to the bullpen. But right now, he’d be very hard to replace in the bullpen. You’d be filling a hole, but creating a hole, also. So I think we want to leave him alone there for the time being. ... (My brother said,) ‘Why don’t you start Clippard?’ And I said, ‘Why don’t you go sell some more copiers?’”

So there you go. Back with the live thread in a little bit.