- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gio Gonzalez walked through the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse Sunday morning disappointed. Instead of his crisp white home uniform, he threw on shorts and a workout shirt, laced up his cleats and grabbed his glove.

As rain pounded the D.C. area, washing away the team’s series and homestand finale with the Miami Marlins, their projected starter took to the outfield to get his throwing in.

The rainout gave the Nationals their first series sweep of the season. Having won the first two games against the Marlins, the Nationals wrapped up an 8-2 homestand with their fifth straight series victory.

With an off day Monday, the postponement came at a good time for the Nationals, who had played 14 straight days before Sunday’s rainout.

“We can use two days off,” said manager Davey Johnson, who was planning to rest third baseman Ryan Zimmerman for a second straight day Sunday.

There was no makeup date announced, but the Marlins return to Nationals Park for weekend series Aug. 3-5 and Sept. 7-9.

The Nationals head to San Diego, where they’ll keep their pitching on-turn and start Gonzalez on Tuesday. He’ll face left-hander Clayton Richard. Jordan Zimmermann will pitch Wednesday against righty Joe Wieland, and Edwin Jackson will work the finale against Edinson Volquez.

The rainout means all five of the Nationals’ starters will get six days of rest, instead of the usual four, before their next start. It also means that Stephen Strasburg and NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kerhsaw will not faceoff Friday night in Los Angeles.

Ross Detwiler will get that start now with Strasburg starting Saturday and Gonzalez pitching the finale at Dodger Stadium.

Zimmerman likely to play Tuesday

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said that the right shoulder inflammation that caused him to be a late scratch Saturday “felt a lot better” Sunday morning. With the game against the Marlins rained out, Zimmerman will have three straight days to rest the shoulder while just missing one game. He saw no reason he wouldn’t be in the starting lineup Tuesday night in San Diego.

“I was going to take today off anyway,” Zimmerman said. “So essentially, instead of having today off, I just had yesterday, and I won’t miss any games besides that one. It’s very convenient.”

Zimmerman felt he aggravated the shoulder with some of the diving plays he’s made – of which there’ve been several – but doesn’t plan to change his game. Outside of the Nationals’ home opener, after which Zimmerman lambasted his defensive performance, the third baseman has made numerous highlight-reel plays.

“I’ve had a chance to dive for so many balls,” he said. “The fourth-and-goal pylon dive into home plate [last Monday night] probably didn’t help. But you can’t tell any of these guys in here not to play. It’s just the way we’ve always been taught to play, and no matter how many times I get hurt, that’s the way I’m going to play. It’s just one of those things.”

Strasburg not being held to save innings

Sunday’s rainout gave the Nationals an opportunity to juggle the starters and skip Stephen Strasburg’s turn through the rotation this time – saving those 6-9 innings of his allotted amount for later in the year.
But the Nationals reiterated they don’t intend to fiddle with Strasburg’s schedule to stretch his contributions before he’s shut down.

“One of the worst things you can do to any pitcher is to give them too much time between starts,” Johnson said. “Regularity is what they need. All of them.”

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