The Washington Times - September 13, 2009, 12:38PM

Hello from blazing hot Land Shark Stadium, where the Nationals and Marlins are about to get their series finale underway. Since there’s really nothing else going on in the world of sports today, I’m sure everyone’s undivided attention will be on this ballgame. Um, yeah.

But for those still interested in baseball and not football, here are some pregame items of note…


— Ian Desmond, red-hot at the plate, is back in the lineup today, but at second base. Desmond has never played anything other than shortstop as a pro, but he grew up playing multiple positions and actually claims to have dreamed of being a utility player back when he was a kid. (Obviously, his dream has changed a bit since then.) Jim Riggleman had to put the 23-year-old back in the lineup today, no matter where he lined up in the field. Desmond has been simply electric in his two games to date. He’s now 6-for-8 with a homer, three doubles, four RBI, a walk and 12 total bases. Even the two outs he’s made were long flyouts to the warning track.

— On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham are both slumping, so both are getting the day off. Zimmerman is 2 for his last 18, which isn’t all that alarming, but the stretch has included six strikeouts and three double plays. I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about it, but Zim could use a day off. Willingham’s downslide has been going on a bit longer. He’s hitting .159 over his last 19 games with 21 strikeouts. All of a sudden, his .300 average is down to .278. He needs to turn things back on the next couple weeks to ensure he finishes with the kind of numbers he deserves.

— The Nats haven’t decided who will start Friday’s game against the Mets, but there’s a good chance it will be Ross Detwiler. Marco Estrada did not impress last night during his 2 1/3 innings. Detwiler, while not perfectly sharp out of the bullpen, did toss two scoreless innings. Unless he’s desperately needed again in the next few days, he’ll be lined up to return to the rotation at the end of the week.

OK, today’s unconventional starting lineup…


LF Willie Harris

2B Ian Desmond

SS Cristian Guzman

1B Adam Dunn

RF Elijah Dukes

CF Justin Maxwell

3B Pete Orr

C Wil Nieves

P John Lannan


LF Chris Coghlan

1B Nick Johnson

SS Hanley Ramirez

3B Jorge Cantu

2B Dan Uggla

RF Cody Ross

C Ronny Paulino

CF Cameron Maybin

P Chris Volstad