The Washington Times - August 22, 2008, 03:09PM

Good afternoon from the Friendly Confines, where it was really hot and muggy all morning before some sudden storms swept through about 90 minutes ago. It’s now finally cleared up and the tarp is coming off the field. First pitch (originally scheduled for 2:20 p.m. Eastern) now at 3:20 p.m. A Friday afternoon game at Wrigley is always something special to me. Seeing the neighborhood bustling at 10 a.m., the bleachers filling up as batting practice is going on, and the old manual scoreboard showing only one game taking place this afternoon and everything else written out as “Nite Game”. Love it. The Nats weren’t quite as ecstatic to be here so early in the day after playing last night in Philly and taking a late flight in. They arrived at their hotel at 1:45 a.m. Central time (2:45 a.m. by their internal clocks) and reported to the ballpark before 10 a.m. today. A few bleary eyes around the clubhouse. “It’s tough, but complaining is not going to help,” manager Manny Acta said. “A lot of times just coming up here to Wrigley Field, guys forget about that. They just love being out here.” Seen here at the ballpark before the game: the Stanley Cup. Yes, THE Stanley Cup. Chris Chelios, who won the title this summer with the Red Wings at age 46, brought the cup to the ballpark to parade around the warning track. Chelios is a Chicago native and played for the Blackhawks for years. And since the Hawks haven’t sniffed a championship in decades, this was perhaps a rare chance for the locals to see the cup in person (not to mention this reporter — see photo below). Also, did you know the Blackhawks and Red Wings are going to play a regular season game here at Wrigley on Jan. 1? Kind of like the Penguins and Sabres did last winter at the Bills’ stadium, only this time in one of the most iconic ballparks in the world. Should be cool. Anyways, some actual Nats news to report before this game gets started… Elijah Dukes is playing his second rehab game with Columbus tonight. He got hit by pitch in his only plate appearance last night, but was not injured. He’s due to get three at-bats tonight and though there’s no timetable for his return from the DL, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him next week during the homestand. Also, neither Austin Kearns nor Jesus Flores is in the lineup today. Flores is fine, just getting the day off after catching the last three nights in Philly. Kearns is still dealing with some lingering issues from his elbow surgery earlier in the year. It doesn’t really bother him enough that he can’t play, but it does stiffen up sometimes and can take a while to loosen up, especially after such a quick turnaround from game to game. With that, here are today’s lineups… NATIONALS 2B Bonifacio SS Guzman 3B Zimmerman CF Milledge 1B Belliard RF Langerhans LF Harris C Nieves P Lannan CUBS LF Soriano (remember him?) SS Theriot 1B Lee 3B Ramirez CF Johnson C Soto RF DeRosa 2B Cedeno P Marquis