The Washington Times - March 25, 2012, 10:26AM

VIERA, Fla. — For the better part of a week Nationals manager Davey Johnson has been pointing reporters to Sunday on the calendar. Sunday he’d run his regular lineup out there and let them play nine innings, Sunday would begin the period of the spring when he turns the intensity up for everyone and wants to see where they’re at with Opening Day just 10 days away. 

But with Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche still not cleared to return to major league games, that regular lineup looks a bit different.


Here is the lineup the Nationals will send out to face the New York Mets on Sunday:

Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Jayson Werth RF
Mark DeRosa 1B
Jesus Flores C
Roger Bernadina CF
Steve Lombardozzi LF
Stephen Strasburg P

The bottom of that lineup hardly looks regular, but Morse and LaRoche’s absences make a big difference.

Ideally, Johnson would have put out something like this:

Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 3B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse LF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Wilson Ramos C
Rick Ankiel CF
Stephen Strasburg P

But Morse and LaRoche being out wrinkles things. DeRosa is able to play both of those positions but he can only play one at a time, of course. Ankiel has been nursing a quad issue for much of the spring and it appeared he was in today’s lineup originally but was scratched. But Ankiel, who made the trip to Sarasota on Saturday while Roger Bernadina rested a bruised right toe, was listed on the lineup as an available player and when asked how he was feeling said “We’re good.”

Bernadina, then, would likely be playing left field in Morse’s absence if Ankiel were healthy. 

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that the Nationals lineup right now hinges greatly on health so while Johnson may be planning to ramp up his regulars this week, how quickly everyone gets healthy will determine how many regulars will get ramped up.