VIERA, Fla. - Before the Nationals traded Nyjer Morgan this morning, manager Jim Riggleman would talk in approximate terms about how his lineup would look, even as it seemed more and more obvious that Rick Ankiel would be the center fielder and Ian Desmond would be the leadoff hitter.
With Morgan gone, though, Riggleman finally confirmed those things today, and we can effectively say what the Nationals’ opening day lineup will be:
Ian Desmond - SS
Jayson Werth - RF
Ryan Zimmerman - 3B
Adam LaRoche - 1B
Michael Morse - LF
Rick Ankiel - CF
Danny Espinosa - 2B
Ivan Rodriguez - C
Livan Hernandez - P
Now, a few notes:
* Riggleman said against most left-handers, Jerry Hairston Jr. will play center field. Morse should also hit cleanup, with LaRoche hitting fifth.
* The manager said he talked with Rodriguez about hitting eighth last year, making sure the likely future Hall of Famer was OK with the move, and said Rodriguez was receptive to it. As the year goes on, it’s likely Wilson Ramos will be in the lineup more often.
* Ankiel said he’s learned a lot about playing center field from the recently-retired Jim Edmonds, who won eight Gold Gloves in 17 seasons. Edmonds was the center fielder in St. Louis when Ankiel was making his transition from pitcher to position player. When he came to Washington, it initially appeared Ankiel would have more opportunities in left field, but that changed when Morse locked down the full-time job there. “Before spring started, they just told me to be ready to play center, left and first, just prepare like I would any other offseason, and here we are,” Ankiel said.