The Washington Times - September 20, 2011, 12:30PM

PHILADELPHIA — Nationals manager Davey Johnson made out his lineup card for the first game of a split doubleheader today in Philadelphia knowing who was pitching for the other team in the nightcap.

“I’ll save my big guns to beat (Cliff) Lee tonight,” he said.


A lineup that includes five starters who spent at least some time at Triple-A Syracuse and only three players who were not in the minor leagues in 2010 (Ian Desmond, Rick Ankiel and Laynce Nix) was the result for Game 1. Roger Bernadina gets the start in right field, Chris Marrero at first base — and hitting cleanup — Jesus Flores catching, Steve Lombardozzi at third base and Tommy Milone pitching.

“One of their aces is going in the second game and he’s left-handed,” Johnson said, referring to Lee.
“(Ryan) Zimmerman was not going to play two games, neither was (Jayson ) Werth and so I just threw (Michael) Morse in. I’d like to see the bench play against this guy coming out of their bullpen.”

Two of the more interesting swaps include Lombardozzi at third base, which Johnson said he spoke with the infielder about last week to be sure there was no ambiguity about the way he views him, and Marrero at cleanup.

As far as Lombardozzi goes, Johnson said he’s explained to him that he still views him as a potential every day player in the major leagues but, right now, the Nationals need is for a utility man so he won’t be playing exclusively at any position.

“I don’t want you to confuse how I’m using you and how I think your future in the big leagues lies,” Johnson told him.

With Marrero, though, the cleanup spot is a reward for the fact that he’s been a major leaguer for nearly a month and held his own in the batters box with a .280 average and nine RBI.

“That’s the maturation of a young player,” Johnson said Sunday. “The first few days he was here, he was kind of feeling his way. Now he’s letting more of his talent out and he’s trying to attack the ball a little more. That’s just what happens with youngsters. I think he’s real comfortable out there.”

“It’s been awesome,” Marrero said of his last month. “I’ve worked my whole life to get to the big leagues. I’m here and I just want to keep moving up and keep doing my thing. Have fun, keep playing hard and help the team win. That’s the most important thing. Help the team win.

He said on Sunday that he was pretty pumped to head to Philadelphia and face guys like Lee and Roy Oswalt: “I just want to see what it’s really like. You watch it on TV. The past couple of years, I’ve watched those guys on TV and now you’re finally going to get to face them live. I’m going to enjoy it.”

He’ll get his chance at the heart of the Nationals’ order this afternoon against Kyle Kendrick.

– Reliever Ryan Mattheus (right shoulder strain) was  activated from the disabled list this morning and he is available to pitch today. Johnson said he plans to take Mattheus along slowly, perhaps limiting his appearances to a batter or so, but both sides feel it’s important for Mattheus to get a few more appearances before the season ends.

– With Milone going in the afternoon game, Ross Detwiler was switched to the nightcap (partly because Milone is a better hitter and would be facing the right-handed Kendrick). The Nationals rotation lines up as follows for the remainder of the week:

LHP John Lannan vs. RHP Vance Worley on Wednesday

RHP Brad Peacock vs. RHP Roy Oswalt on Thursday

RHP Stephen Strasburg vs. RHP Tim Hudson (Braves) on Friday

RHP Chien-Ming Wang vs. RHP Brandon Beachy (Braves) on Saturday

Chances are that means Detwiler would be the man to start Sunday and the Nationals rotation for the final series of the season would be: Milone, Lannan, Peacock. Strasburg could also start in the final game in Florida on regular rest if the Nationals felt he needed one more start this season, but nothing has been finalized or announced and all of that is purely speculative on my part. 

– Here are the full lineups for Game 1:


Ian Desmond SS
Roger Bernadina RF
Rick Ankiel CF
Chris Marrero 1B
Laynce Nix LF
Danny Espinosa 2B
Jesus Flores C
Steve Lombardozzi 3B
Tommy Milone P


Shane Victorino CF
Wilson Valdez SS
John Mayberry Jr. 1B
Hunter Pence RF
Ben Francisco LF
Erik Kratz C
Pete Orr 2B
Michael Martinez 3B
Kyle Kendrick P