The Washington Times - April 11, 2012, 12:51PM

NEW YORK — The Washington Nationals will finish off their season-opening road trip this afternoon at Citi Field with a pitching match-up that could certainly be worse. Stephen Strasburg will make his second start of the season today opposite New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana.

Santana threw five scoreless innings on Opening Day for the Mets, allowing just two hits and two walks in a victory over the Atlanta Braves. It was his first start since Sept. 2, 2010 as he essentially underwent a similar injury and rehab to that of Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who spent nearly two years rehabbing a torn shoulder capsule.


With the Nationals facing their first left-hander of the season, Adam LaRoche is the only left-hander in manager Davey Johnson’s lineup today. Jayson Werth shifts to center field and is bumped up to the cleanup spot. He’s also flanked by Mark DeRosa in left field and Xavier Nady in right. LaRoche was dropped down to the No. 6 hole vs. the left-hander.

There’s a good chance, even when Rick Ankiel (a lefty) returns, that this could be the Nationals prime outfield configuration against right-handers but Johnson wasn’t tipping his hand dramatically either way.

“It’s kind of a work in progress,” Johnson said. “The players are going to dictate who gets the majority of the playing time.

“I was kind of anticipating Michael Morse being back and also Ankiel… So we’re still looking at different situations in the outfield and how I’ll go, but the players will dictate that to me, it won’t be so much me who’ll make that decision. They’ll let me know.”

Ankiel (quad) appears on track to return when eligible by April 14. 

Here are the full lineups behind Strasburg and Santana:


Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Jayson Werth CF
Mark DeRosa LF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Xavier Nady RF
Jesus Flores C
Stephen Strasburg P


Ruben Tejada SS
Daniel Murphy 2B
Lucas Duda RF
Ike Davis 1B
Jason Bay LF
Josh Thole C
Kirk Nieuwenhuis CF
Ronny Cedeno 3B
Johan Santana P