Here are a few pregame items of interest from Nationals Park, before the Nationals take on the Braves tonight:
* Davey Johnson didn't have a firm date for when Stephen Strasburg might start his minor league rehab assignment - he was still thinking it might be the 7th or the 10th of this month - but he said as far as how Strasburg's simulated game in Viera, Fla., this morning went, no news was good news. Strasburg threw 51 pitches, 32 of them strikes, according to Florida Today's Mark DeCotis, and didn't allow a ball out of the infield in three innings. "I know he's chomping at the bit, and I know what the numbers are going to say," Johnson said. "I'm sure if there was any blip on the radar (of a setback), I'd be the first one to hear about it."
* Jonny Gomes will start tonight's game against right-hander Derek Lowe, in part because most of the Braves' top relievers, who are all left-handed, are well-rested tonight. Johnson will use Laynce Nix tomorrow, but didn't want to use the left fielder in both a night game and a day game when he's still nursing a sore right Achilles tendon.
* Jayson Werth, who is hitting .333 in his last 11 games with a pair of homers and nine RBIs, might finally be turning a corner - and, Johnson thinks, has shook some of the pressure of his seven-year, $126 million contract. "The last two or three weeks, he's been more relaxed and more himself," Johnson said. "It was just a matter of time for him getting comfortable." Johnson has said on several occasions that he thought Werth was being asked to spend too much time helping young players early in his time with the Nationals, and made that point again on Tuesday. "A lot of times, the focus can get away from yourself," Johnson said. "I came to Cincinnati and I had to have a conversation with the team - 'Leave (Barry) Larkin alone, and just let him play shortstop.' A lot of times, players come in, and you quit taking care of No. 1. I'm a firm believer, take care of No. 1, first and foremost. The problems that arise, they fall in my lap, in my bailiwick. Put that on me. I ain't got nothing else to do."