Greetings from Jupiter, where (half of) the Nats take on the Cardinals today. It's the second of three times the Nationals play the Cardinals this week - the two teams meet again on Friday night.
The Nationals also have a split-squad game against the Marlins in Viera. Ambitious multi-media organization that we are, we'll have you covered at both of them; Kristen Hudak will be joining me in my live thread to provide updates from Viera -- at least until she's got to catch a flight back to D.C. - and Phil Wood is also on hand for the Nationals-Marlins game.
Now, for a few news updates: The Nationals will be without outfielder Nyjer Morgan until at least Friday after Morgan "tweaked" his hamstring in his last at-bat Sunday against the Cardinals, manager Jim Riggleman said. (What's the technical term for a tweak? Are we safe to call it a strain?). Riggleman kept Morgan out yesterday because he thought Morgan had done something to his leg.
"We just don't want to re-aggravate it," Riggleman said. "Hopefully it's just something that will be taken care of by the weekend. But if it's not, we've got to make sure he can run 100 percent. It's such a big part of his game; I can't let him go out there to the point he might really pull something."
Elijah Dukes is also out of the lineup, but Riggleman said the outfielder is fine physically.
And Cristian Guzman, who has been back in D.C. with his wife while she gave birth to the couple's baby daughter, is scheduled to pinch hit in Viera today. His surgically repaired shoulder is strong enough to make most throws, Riggleman said, but he hasn't faced a play where he's had to make a difficult throw. He'll continue his throwing program and is expected to start at shortstop tomorrow.
"The play will determine it -- if he goes to his right, or if he gets caught on his heels and he bobbles a ball, now he's got to fire a ball across the infield, I think instinctively, that's what he'll do and that's when he'll be able to convince himself his arm is back all the way," Riggleman said. "He's a veteran guy that generally throws the ball over there about 75-80 percent."
Riggleman wouldn't say he'd be comfortable putting Guzman on the field on Opening Day without seeing more from him, though.
"I'd need to see him play some games and have to make a few throws," Riggleman said. "If we had to create an infield practice where we just were firing the ball over there, we can do that, but the game situation's going to tell us more."
Here are the Nationals' lineups - first their starting nine against the Cardinals, and then against the Marlins:
Bernadina - 9
Desmond - 6
Kennedy - 4
Willingham - 7
Duncan - 3
Rodriguez - 2
Whitesell - DH
Maxwell - 8
Bruntlett - 5
Lannan - 1
Taveras - 8
Harris - 9
Zimmerman - 5
Dunn - 3
Mench - 7
Orr - 4
Espinosa - 6
Nieves - 2
Stammen - 1