The Washington Times - August 20, 2011, 07:05PM

Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez made some progress Saturday afternoon when he took 25 swings in the batting cage, testing his right oblique, and came out of the session in good shape. It was a small step, but for Rodriguez it was an important one. Having been on the disabled list since July 7 with the strained oblique, Rodriguez had been setback several times when it came to swinging.

He will take 25 more swings in the cage tomorrow and next week, if all goes well, he’ll progress to hitting live batting practice. There remains no timetable for Rodriguez’s return, and the Nationals are by no means going to rush him. Chances are he could return to the active roster right around when rosters expand.


“I’m not really concerned about it,”Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “It’s not like he has to prove anything to me or the organization. The only thing I’m concerned about is him getting healthy and not rushing it. Which is his tendency to do.”

– The Nationals lineup got a little shakeup this afternoon when Laynce Nix was slotted into the fifth spot, dropping Jayson Werth and Danny Espinosa into sixth and seventh, respectively.

Nix has outrageous numbers against the Phillies starter, Roy Oswalt, including an 11-for-25 lifetime mark with four doubles, a triple and three home runs. 

When asked about the lineup switch, Johnson didn’t exactly play coy: “You read the stats too?,” he asked. “He’s pretty good against him. I also like left-right-left if I can do that. It’s no (knock) on Espinosa and Werth. I like Nix and I like the fact that he’s swung the bat good against him in Philly.”

– The Nationals gained a slew of positives last night when Ryan Zimmerman’s ninth-inning walk-off grand slam cleared the wall in left field. Obviously the most important of those was a victory. But a close second was the fact that they forced Phillies’ closer Ryan Madson to throw 38 pitches. It was Madson’s third consecutive day of work, a total of 72 pitches, and by the Nationals getting him to work the way they did, they’ve likely eliminated their chances of seeing him again in the series.

“That puts them in a bad spot for the rest of the series,” Jayson Werth said Friday night. “I didn’t know he pitched the last couple of days so we might not see him again for the rest of the series which bodes well for us.”

As Johnson pointed out, the Phillies still have Brad Lidge and Antonio Bastardo in their bullpen, but already short with just six guys out there, it bodes well for the Nationals IF they can get to Philadelphia’s starting pitching.