The Washington Times - April 23, 2011, 06:56PM

PITTSBURGH — The rain is not yet falling but the grounds crew has already rolled out the tarp here at PNC Park and it’s clear that the game will not start on-time at 7:05 p.m. The announcement in the park is that there is no scheduled start time for the game, so here are some notes while we wait.

If the Nationals and Pirates ever actually play a game in this series, it could potentially feature seven players who have played for both teams.

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The Nationals’ connections to Pittsburgh run pretty deep with players Sean Burnett, Adam LaRoche, Tom Gorzelanny, Brian Bixler and Matt Stairs all having played for the Pirates. Bullpen coach Jim Lett served as a bench coach for the Pirates from 2006-2007 and coach Trent Jewett spent his entire career before coming to the Nationals in 2009 as a player, manager or coach in the Pittsburgh system.

Not to mention Nationals assistant GM Brian Minniti, who spent the nine years of his career prior to joining the Nationals also working in Pittsburgh’s front office.

As for the Pirates, they’re suiting up two former Nationals in right-hander Joel Hanrahan and left-hander Joe Beimel.

– Todd Coffey got through his fielding drills fine today and still remains on track to come off the disabled list on Sunday, at which point the Nationals would need to make a corresponding roster move. Nationals manager Jim Riggleman has said that the move would be a pitcher for a pitcher — meaning that right-hander Collin Balester was most likely ticketed back to Triple-A Syracuse.

But with rain absolutely wreaking havoc on the team’s schedule, if the Nationals were forced into another doubleheader this series — say with a possible rainout tonight — and, having lost their scheduled off day on Monday, required a little extra bullpen depth, Riggleman said today they could consider sending out a position player when Coffey is activated.

– One note that didn’t make it into my earlier post about Livan Hernandez is that he is one of only five starting pitchers with 10-plus years in the major leagues who has never once been on the disabled list, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. With Barry Zito (foot) apparently headed there for the Giants, Hernandez, Derek Lowe, Mark Buehrle, Bronson Arroyo and Javier Vazquez are the only five remaining as starting-pitching iron men.

– The Nationals will now play 32 games in the next 33 days, starting with tonight’s game (if it’s played). With seven days in the first 23 that they did not have games — and four of those scheduled off days, that’s certainly some quirky scheduling.

After losing Monday’s off day to a 7 p.m. makeup game, the Nationals’ next two off days are now Monday, May 9 and Thursday, May 26.