Good afternoon from Nationals Park, where the Nationals return home to begin a 10-game homestand against the Reds. Most of the discussion before today's game centered on the five draft picks the Nationals signed before last night's deadline - and what that will mean for their 40-man roster as they try to call up players in September.
At present, the Nationals have three players (Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Mike Purke) on the 40-man roster whom they don't plan to use in the big leagues this year, so they'll have to make some moves to add players to their roster, especially when they take Stephen Strasburg off the 60-day disabled list. Byron Kerr will have more on that process and how it will affect some of the Nationals' top minor leaguers.
In the meantime, though, we've got a few pieces of afternoon news for you:
* Ivan Rodriguez is at Nationals Park today, and was taking swings in the batting cage this afternoon. He is still working his way back from a strained right oblique muscle, and while the Nationals still don't have a date where they expect him to return to the lineup, manager Davey Johnson knows Rodriguez is going to try and push his way off the disabled list - though his aggressiveness in the rehab process has led to a couple of setbacks so far. "They want me to relax. Who wants to relax?" Rodriguez said. "That is not me. I can't relax. I played with pain before. If I can tolerate the pain, I will just go for it and play." We'll have more on the 38-year-old catcher's struggles in dealing with his injury shortly.
In the meantime, Jesus Flores will continue to get occasional work in the Nationals' lineup.
* John Lannan, who twisted his left knee while making a diving stop on Saturday against the Phillies, hasn't given Johnson much reason to worry that he'll miss his next start. "I talked to him Sunday, and he seemed to feel pretty good," Johnson said. "We'll know more tomorrow. He's out there hitting. He's going to throw on the side tomorrow, and he's pitching Saturday. With the couple off-days, it pushes him back, so that'll probably help."
* Chien-Ming Wang makes his fourth start tonight after getting through three outings without any setbacks in his return from shoulder surgery. In his last outing, Wang worked six shutout innings, and Johnson said he feels "we're past the danger point" where Wang would have a relapse. "He's thrown between starts three times now," Johnson said. "I think his arm strength is getting back to where he's more comfortable with it and where he can trust it."