The Washington Times - April 2, 2012, 11:16PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Roger Bernadina came out of Monday’s game in the first inning after he was hit in the right knee with an errant pickoff throw from Red Sox pitcher Aaron Cook. Bernadina took the throw off the side of his knee and came out of the game almost immediately.

He said there was a considerable amount of pain when it first happened but he spent most of the rest of the game icing and the swelling had gone down by the time the Nationals were packing up and heading out. 

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Bernadina said he “should be fine,” and didn’t think it would affect his status for Opening Day. Earlier Monday, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he was “leaning toward” putting Bernadina in center field in the starting lineup on Thursday. 

Johnson plans to play Bernadina on Tuesday in the Nationals’ exhibition game against Boston at Nationals Park. Bernadina missed four games last week when he went home to Curacao for his father’s funeral so Johnson was hoping to get him nine innings on Monday. That did not happen so he’s hopeful Bernadina can get some at-bats on Tuesday.

– Jordan Zimmermann finished his spring season Monday afternoon and the right-hander is on track to start Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

He came out of his start on Monday saying he was “definitely ready” for the season. “One more bullpen and I’ll be ready to go.”

For Zimmermann, one of the most positive developments this spring was the improvement of his changeup, a pitch that he’s been working on for several years now but has finally gotten to a point where he’s comfortable — and effective — with it.

He threw one to David Ortiz on Monday that the big left-hander just stared at for strike three.

“I came into spring and it was hit or miss — and missing more than I was hitting,” Zimmermann said. “Right now I feel like I could throw it down in the count or down on the zone anytime I want. The last one to Big Papi there was a changeup so I was pretty happy there.

“I think the more I face some teams and throw it to them, if I throw a lot of good ones they’re going to have that in the back of their mind, ‘He’s got this fastball and slider and curve but you have to watch out for his changeup.’ If I can just mix it in and throw it five, six times a game I think that’s all I really need to throw it.”

– Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa hit his second home run in as many games on Monday, this one coming from the left side after he hit one right-handed on Sunday. 

– Edwin Jackson starts for the Nationals on Tuesday and John Lannan is scheduled to get an inning in relief to serve as his throw day in a final tuneup. Lannan will not start until April 10. Ross Detwiler also may throw in Tuesday’s game. Clay Buchholz will start for Boston.