Strasburg, not Gonzalez, will start season's second game

The Nationals have switched up their rotation plans for the season's first series, choosing now to start Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday in Atlanta following Max Scherzer in Monday's opener.

Manager Dusty Baker had said two weeks ago that Gio Gonzalez would start the second game in Atlanta, with Strasburg in Thursday's home opener against the Marlins. But the coaching staff decided to change things around after several rainouts during the final week of spring training.

strasburg-pitching-red-stride-sidebar.jpg"It was a product of the rain, and also a product of how we wanted to break them up and stuff," Baker said. "During the course of the year, it can still change. It depends on who needs to skip a turn, or who is ailing some, or off-days or rainouts. This is just how we envision it to start."

The Nationals aren't yet formally announcing the order of their rotation following the opening series in Atlanta. Baker did say both Gonzalez and Joe Ross would be available out of the bullpen against the Braves. The expectation is that Gonzalez, Ross and Tanner Roark will pitch against the Marlins next weekend, in some order.

Baker went through a lengthy explanation last month, offering up a rationale for having Gonzalez pitch in between Scherzer and Strasburg. That may still wind up being the case, just not to begin the season.

"(Pitching coach Mike Maddux) has it all programmed out," Baker said. "After the first go-around, or go-around and a half, it will be the way we want. But right now, we've got Scherzer and Strasburg in Atlanta. We changed it around."

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