The Washington Times - April 5, 2011, 07:21PM

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa both got the day off on Tuesday as Nationals manager Jim Riggleman used the Nationals first road game of the season as a chance to get both Jerry Hairston Jr. and Alex Cora some playing time early in the season.

But Wednesday, when both of the Nationals young infielders return to the lineup, they will have switched positions in the batting order with Espinosa slotting in at leadoff and Desmond dropping down to the seventh spot.


“When we made the trade with Nyjer Morgan, we discussed the leadoff spot and we kind of put a blanket on one and seven with both names off to the side, using it interchangeably,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. “One will hit one and one will hit seven and we’ll just see how it goes.”

“We can go back and forth on it,” he added. “Whichever one is getting on base a little bit more than the other, right now, is the way we’ll go about it.”

The idea is shaking things up could benefit both the Nationals, who have scored just six runs this season, and Desmond, who is mired in an 0-for-13 slump to begin the year. Espinosa, who has hit only in the seventh slot in the lineup this year, is hitting .444 on the young season.

“Maybe try to get Ian away from the feeling that he’s got to get it started for us, walking up to the plate as the first guy,” Riggleman said. “I’ve kind of had a little luck with that through the years, with some players if they were struggling a little.

“As our roster stands right now Ian will still be hitting leadoff at times but just trying to let him get underway, get on track”

Espinosa saw significant time as a leadoff hitter in the minor leagues but hasn’t been asked to do it very often in his limited major league time. He’s 11-for-73 with a double, a triple and three home runs, along with eight walks.

— Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny threw between 60 and 65 pitches on Monday in a simulated game in preparation for his start Saturday in New York.

Gorzelanny, the Nationals’ fifth starter, hasn’t pitched in a game since Friday, March 25 during spring training. When he does take the mound, it will be 15 days since his last outing.