The Washington Times - May 19, 2012, 07:02PM

By Kelly Parsons
The Washington Times

Ian Desmond has been Davey Johnson’s go-to leadoff man. But after having a potentially game-changing chat with his shortstop a few days ago, Johnson decided to switch things up a bit.

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“He actually said something to me…’I don’t have to lock him in the one-hole,’” Johnson said before batting practice Saturday. “I felt like, you know, the offense was kind of sputtering. I just kind of mixed it up and drew it out of a hat and throw them up on the wall.”

Desmond, who will bat fifth tonight, wasn’t the only noticeable change to the lineup. Johnson decided to give slumping Danny Espinosa a day off, in hopes that the break will revitalize the second baseman.

“I think he’s moving in the right direction,” Johnson said. “I just haven’t seen him real, real comfortable, kind of locked in. I’ve been waiting for him to get locked in. I sense a little frustration with him and I don’t want that to fester.”

Steve Lombardozzi, who is second on the team with a .400 on-base percentage, will take Espinosa’s place in the lineup and Desmond’s spot in the leadoff role Saturday, and outfielder Bryce Harper will follow him in the two- hole.

Despite the change, Johnson said it’s likely Espinosa will be right back in the lineup tomorrow. But with Lombardozzi at his disposal, it’s certainly not an easy decision for Johnson.

“It’s very difficult having a player that I think is a starting second baseman in the big leagues in Lombardozzi on the bench,” he said. “By him still sitting there, that’s how much I think of Espinosa. My job, as I said before, is to get 25 guys playing up to their capabilities. I think you need patience to do that sometimes.”

Here are the full lineups:

Nationals

Steve Lombardozzi, 2B

Bryce Harper, RF

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

Adam LaRoche, 1B

Ian Desmond, SS

Rick Ankiel, CF

Carlos Maldonado, C

Roger Bernadina, LF

Ross Detwiler, P

 

Orioles

Robert Andino, 2B

J.J. Hardy, SS

Nick Markakis, RF

Adam Jones, CF

Matt Wieters, C

Wilson Betemit, 1B

Steve Tolleson, 3B

Xavier Avery, LF

Jason Hammel, P