The Washington Times - August 19, 2012, 12:07PM

There’s a bit of intrigue at Nationals Park or at least as much intrigue as one can muster on a routine late-summer Sunday morning. After Nationals manager Davey Johnson twice insisted shortstop Ian Desmond would get the day off, he’s batting sixth for today’s series finale against the Mets.

We’ll have to wait for an explanation, since Johnson doesn’t speak to the media pregame on Sundays.


The saga:

Before Friday’s game, after the Nationals activated Desmond from the disabled list after missing 25 games with a strained oblique, Johnson said he planned to play Desmond every day.

“He’s not going to be wanting time off,” Johnson said.

Though Desmond felt fine in his return, Johnson’s tenor changed postgame Friday. The manager said his shortstop wouldn’t play Sunday and the Nationals would revert to their pre-Desmond infield with Danny Espinosa at shortstop and Steve Lombardozzi at second.

Jayson Werth would also get Sunday off to rest his legs, Johnson said. That didn’t happen.

During an extended pregame chat Saturday, Johnson repeated his plan to sit Desmond. But he hinted Desmond may not head to the bench easily.

“I’ve already got one guy wanting to choke me to death,” Johnson said, referring to giving Bryce Harper Saturday off.

Harper, at least, got the day off. We’ll see what kept Desmond and Werth from the same fate.

Here are the lineups:

New York Mets
Andres Torres, CF
Justin Turner, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Scott Hairston, RF
Ike Davis, 1B
Ronny Cedeno, SS
Jason Bay, LF
Kelly Shoppach, C
Jeremy Hefner, RHP

Washington Nationals
Jayson Werth, RF
Bryce Harper, CF
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
Adam LaRoche, 1B
Michael Morse, LF
Ian Desmond, SS
Danny Espinosa, 2B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Gio Gonzalez, LHP