Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters this morning that he was delaying the announcement of this afternoon's starting lineup until he talked to the Nats' medical staff and shortstop Ian Desmond to see how a bothersome oblique issue was this morning. "My shortstop was feeling better yesterday," the Nats' skipper said, "But he's got a little nagging injury. Again it's one of those 'side' injuries. So if he's not in the lineup it's because he couldn't get loose." Asked more specifically if it was an "oblique" injury, Johnson said, "It seems like that's the injury this year, the oblique, so I'd say the chances [are] pretty good he'll get off [today], maybe even off tomorrow."
The 69-year-old, second-year Nats' manager said he'd talked to Desmond who said he felt better yesterday and the shortstop was in the hot tub early, but, "My tendency is always to nip it in the bud," but he was still waiting for the report on Desmond before making a decision. Should Desmond sit, Johnson said he might move Danny Espinosa over to short with Steve Lombardozzi at second. "If it's going to be maybe a couple days," Johnson said, he'd rather use Espinosa at short, though he added, "I have confidence in Lombo there too... so... and his arm strength is stretched out from throwing in left [field]."
The Nats' manager said yesterday was the first time he heard from Desmond about the discomfort. "It was after the game yesterday I heard the report on it," Johnson said, "But he's been an iron man, I think he's missed one game [this season], so the last conversation I had with him a physical therapist was checking him out and I'm waiting on what they say."
"I like him in the lineup obviously," Johnson said of the shortstop, "61 games out of 62, but again, it's just one battle and I notice the Yankees have got [Alex Rodriguez] sitting, they rest people. I believe in it. So I'm leaning more heavily toward giving [Desmond] the day off." Replacing Desmond's contributions would be difficult, the manager said, but as he's repeated often this year, "You win with 25 players, so I'm always very concerned about anybody having a little nagging injury. I'd rather nip it in the bud a la [Stephen] Strasburg with the little cut or anything, cause it's such a long season and we're just in the infancy of the season. You don't want something like what happened with [Michael] Morse or we had the same thing with [Adam] LaRoche in the Spring. I'm kind of gun shy with these injuries, so if I know of something and I don't let someone else play then I'm the idiot."
After all that chatter, however, the Nationals just released the Nationals' lineup for this afternoon. In spite of the comments from the Nats' manager, it appears that the issue has cleared up enough for Desmond to play, but it's worth keeping an eye on...
#Nationals vs. NYY - Espinosa 4, Harper 8, Zimmerman 5, Morse 9, Desmond 6, Moore 3, Nady 7, Flores 2, Zimmermann 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) June 16, 2012