The Washington Times - September 2, 2011, 07:16PM

Danny Espinosa was absent from Nationals manager Davey Johnson’s starting lineup Friday night for the first time since Johnson took over in late June. It was only the fourth time all season that Espinosa didn’t appear in lineup and, if he were not to appear at all, would be the first game of the season that Espinosa did not participate in. Espinosa has said on several occasions that he’d love to play all 162 games, something only eight rookies in MLB history have ever done. 

That said, he wasn’t exactly crying over missing Friday’s game and Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. 

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Espinosa is 0-for-11 against Dickey with one walk and one strikeout. He joked that he didn’t need another 0-for-4 against Dickey and admitted that the knuckleball can throw off his timing for more than just that game. He certainly didn’t ask out of the lineup — in fact, Johnson confronted him early Friday afternoon and told him not to argue with him even if he wanted to — but he was OK with getting some rest.

Chances are, however, that Nationals fans will see the second baseman before the night is over.

“I really don’t want to give him a day off,” Johnson said. “I’d use him to try to win this ballgame.”

“He’s expanding the zone a little bit here lately but just figured that a mental change (would help),” he added. “I don’t want him thinking he’s going to break (Cal) Ripken’s record.”

– Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez did not return to Washington as expected on Friday but instead remained in Harrisburg to serve as the Double-A team’s designated hitter. Rodriguez has made three rehab starts for his strained right oblique muscle, catching five innings for Single-A Potomac, then seven and nine innings for Harrisburg this week. 

As long as he continues to be able to swing the bat with no issues, there’s a good chance Rodriguez will be activated sometime during the Nationals’ current homestand.

– Nationals pitchers Brad Peacock and Tom Milone were in Washington on Friday but not with the team. They aren’t allowed to be truly around until they are activated which for both should come on Saturday. Milone is slated to start Saturday night against the Mets, making his major league debut, and Peacock is expected to be used in relief on Tuesday, following Stephen Strasburg to the mound.

In discussing other potential call-ups, Nationals manager Davey Johnson brought up the name of infielder Steve Lombardozzi again, as well as that of outfielder Corey Brown. With Milone, Peacock, Strasburg and Lombardozzi all needing to be added to the Nationals’ 40-man roster, chances are they will not have many other call-ups not currently on the 40-man.