Greeted by a significantly bigger media contingent than usual in the Nats Park press room, Nationals' manager Davey Johnson jokingly asked, "Is this a playoff game or something?" when he entered for today's pregame press conference. "The only news I have is the groundskeeper said there wasn't going to be much of a window," Johnson said, "That's from three weather services, so, that's about all I know, but I'm sure we're going to try to get it in."
If they don't play tonight's game, Davey Johnson said, "Obviously a lot of that has to go in front of the Players Association on both sides, but I think we'd like to probably play a split [on Wednesday] and then the makeup game would be at 1:00 and if this one's cancelled, [Stephen Strasburg] would go in the makeup game, start that one."
If they play tonight's game, the Nats' Skipper said they'd be very cautious with Strasburg, who'll be making his first major league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last September. "We had a game here before when [Livan Hernandez] pitched, and it was about an hour delay and Livan's about the only human alive that I would let go back out there and so if it looks like it's going to be that situation I probably wouldn't let Stras start, because I wouldn't want him to go in inclement weather, number one, and number two, I wouldn't want him to go one inning, because I'd have to wait until his next time came around. So I would rather postpone it a day and know that he could get his full work in, but I don't want to even think about that, I'm hopeful that we'll get this one in."
Strasburg will be on a pitch count/innings limit, with Johnson saying he will hopefully go four innings, with a pitch count less than the 70 or so he's thrown in recent rehab starts, "I would probably hold him closer to 60," Johnson told reporters. If Strasburg doesn't pitch tonight, the Nationals' manager said, "A young man named [Brad] Peacock," will pitch in his place according to the Nats' skipper. Johnson said Peacock was told before any consideration of having to pitch in place of Strasburg that he would be used as a starter out of the pen, given enough time to warm up with no worries about coming on in the middle of an inning so he could warm up like a starter.
As for the big crowd that was expected for tonight's start, Davey Johnson told reporters, "I suggest they all take off work," if Strasburg's start is moved to Wednesday afternoon. "The only thing that's on my mind is that we started the last one in a little drizzle," Johnson said, "I mentioned to [Nats' GM Mike Rizzo], I hope that we don't start this one in a drizzle, because if it was the same scenario as Livo, I would lose [Strasburg], because he would be done, and I just don't want that, in his rehab to be set back with just a partial performance."
Johnson, much like the rest of NatsTown, is eager to see Strasburg get back on the mound. "I'm real anxious and I know [Strasburg] is too. I also talked to him just a minute ago before I came in here and I basically laid it out for him that if this game was called he would pitch the 1:00 game tomorrow...I also told him that if it was a drizzly rainy day that looked like it might start getting worse, that I might scratch him, and that would be my decision right at game time. So I wanted him to understand that the weather dictates what will happen."
Strasburg's fine with the plans according to Davey Johnson, "He's worked really hard, harder than anybody has a right to expect somebody to work. He's really in great shape, ready to go, hopefully we'll get it in." Johnson did have a conversation with Rizzo about what to do tonight, telling the Nats' GM, "I don't want to have a partial rehab his first time back and I really don't want it to be rainy, wet mound, wet balls, him out there throwing, I don't care if it's sold out or whatever, I'm always considering the future of the player and what's best for the player, because if I do what's best for the player it should be best for the team, but hopefully we'll get it in."