The Washington Times - April 13, 2013, 11:32AM

Tyler Clippard wants the ball. Saturday. He says he’s ready and Friday night’s bullpen implosion in which he played a 35-pitch part, is cleared from his mind.

That may be the case, but he likely won’t be called on to pitch.

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“Probably,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said when asked if Clippard was off limits for Saturday’s game.

Drew Storen, who threw 24 pitches trying to get a four-out save Friday, also said he’s ready and willing to go. He noted, though, the players appreciate Johnson “is willing to save us from ourselves.”

“Number of pitches, how he’s throwing, number of days he’s worked in a row. If he worked, that would be the third day in a row,” Johnson said, explaining his thought process on when to rest a reliever.

Because closer Rafael Soriano had saved games three straight days, Johnson went with Clippard and Storen on Friday as the Braves rallied from 4-1 down to win 6-4 in 10 innings.

“Ideally like to divide my bullpen into A’s and B’s.  I haven’t really been able to do that. I’m not as comfortable with how that is shaking out right now.”

The pitchers may not like the mandated rest.  Johnson doesn’t expect them to like it.

“It’s a whole long grind,” Johnson said. “What you do from basically through the first two-thirds of the season, you have to take care of them so don’t get overworked and get tired arms coming into the crunch time.”

Clippard was credited with only 2/3 inning Friday. He walked three.

“If that’s how he wants to  do it, so be it. But I’m ready. I can pitch,” Clippard said.  “For any bullpen guy, they don’t like to sit on bad outings. No pitcher does. We’re definitely itching to get out there again.”

Clippard said a bad outing “that night, kind of eats at me a little bit but the next day, I’m good. Right now, I’m fine. That’s the beauty of baseball. It makes it a little bit easier when you play every day.”

Atlanta is off to a 9-1 start.  Washington fell to 7-3 with Friday’s loss.  These are the two teams most expect to fight for the NL East title.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of games like that, tight to the end,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Without further delay, here are Saturday’s lineups

BRAVES

B.J Upton, 8

Jason Heyward, 9

Justin Upton, 7

Evans Gattis, 2

Dan Uggla, 4

Juan Francisco, 5

Chris Johnson, 3

Ramiro Pena, 6

Tim Hudson, 1

 

NATIONALS

Denard Span, 8

Jayson Werth, 9

Bryce Harper, 7

Ryan Zimmerman, 5

Adam LaRoche, 3

Ian Desmond, 6

Danny Espinosa, 4

Wilson Ramos, 2

Stephen Strasburg, 1