The Washington Times - May 23, 2011, 03:42PM

MILWAUKEE — The Nationals have assigned outfielder Rick Ankiel to Double-A Harrisburg to begin a rehab assignment tonight.

Ankiel, who’s been on the disabled list since May 6, retroactive to May 3, has been in Viera, Fla., working up to taking live batting practice with his sprained right wrist. He’s progressed enough that the Nationals feel he’s ready to begin seeing game action and he’ll do just that with the Senators tonight in Akron, Ohio.

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The Nationals haven’t said yet how long they expect Ankiel to remain on rehab but it likely would not be more than a few games, meaning he could be activated before the Nationals return home at the end of this week to take on the San Diego Padres.

With first baseman Adam LaRoche currently getting the torn labrum in his left shoulder reexamined in New York, the roster roulette that was expected to go down when Ankiel was ready to be activated could be avoided if the Nationals need to put their first baseman on the disabled list in the next few days. 

That move, though, would leave the Nationals with Michael Morse as the team’s every day first baseman with only Matt Stairs as a potential backup. It would also give them three left-handed outfielders (Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, Laynce Nix) for two spots in the lineup.