The Washington Times - March 12, 2012, 11:57AM

VIERA, Fla. — Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Monday morning that Chien-Ming Wang and John Lannan, the two pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ rotation, will both pitch Thursday when the New York Yankees visit Space Coast Stadium.

Wang, who appears to have the inside track on the spot while Lannan finds his name coming up often in possible trade rumors, will start the game. Lannan will follow him.

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“As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t need a reliever, they can have the whole game,” Johnson said.

Wang will start, Johnson said, for two reasons: given his injury history, the Nationals’ are wary of getting him out of his usual starting routine and they like to allow him as much time as possible to properly warm-up before pitching. Johnson also wanted to give him the start against his former team. Lannan, who has never pitched in relief in his major league career, will not be brought in mid-inning. If Wang reaches his pitch count or is in trouble, Johnson will bring in a reliever in that case.

He said he expects to get about three innings from Wang and Lannan is capable of going the final six innings.