Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson went with Steve Lombardozzi at third and batting second in the first two games against Cincinnati in the current series, explaining before Friday night's game with the Reds that Lombardozzi fit the top of order better than Anthony Rendon, but the 22-year-old Nats' prospect is back in the lineup this afternoon. Rendon's hitting seventh, however, so the Nationals' skipper has Danny Espinosa, who's hit seventh in all-but one game this season, in the two-hole today. Asked about the decision before this afternoon's game, Johnson said there were a couple reasons for the move.
"I want him to think about line drives, getting on base that kind of thing," Johnson said, "maybe bunting. Last year I hit him first sometimes." Espinosa hitting second also has the added benefit of setting up a potential good matchup for the Nats later in the game. "If their guy [starter Mike Leake] gets in trouble their first guy [out of the pen] is [left-hander Sean] Marshall. [Espinosa] sets up that way, and also I want to play Rendon. And so, [Espinosa] is the best fit in my mind."
Espinosa's struggled at the plate so far this season to the tune of a .185/.221/.369 line, but he's 3 for 7 with a double and a home run in the first two games with the Reds. In 56 games and 251 plate appearances in the two-hole in his career, Espinosa has a .203/.281/.302 line with eight doubles and four home runs. Last season, the then-25-year-old '08 2nd Round pick, who turned 26 two days back, had a .217/.314/.280 line with a double and a home run hitting in the two-hole.
Rendon's had the last two days off. In four games and 15 plate appearances since he was called up to take Ryan Zimmerman's spot on the roster when Zim went on the DL with a hamstring issue, the 2011 1st Round pick is 2 for 15 with a double. As for Zimmerman? The Nationals' skipper said the 28-year-old '05 1st Rounder will stay in D.C. when the Nats travel to Atlanta after Sunday's series finale with Cincinnati. "I talked to Ryan yesterday in the dugout," Johnson said, "He said, 'I really like how I'm feeling, where I'm at.' He said, 'I'm not going with you guys to Atlanta. I'm going to stay here and I'll get some ABs around here,' and be able to [work] out and do stuff here and he would probably join us in Pittsburgh."
Johnson also said that Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos, who made a rehab start last night w/ Double-A Harrisburg, going 0 for 1 with a walk, would likely join the team in Atlanta.
• Nationals' Saturday Lineup vs the Reds:
Today's #Nationals lineup vs. CIN: Span 8, Espinosa 4, Harper 7, Werth 9, LaRoche 3, Desmond 6, Rendon 5, Suzuki 2, Haren 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) April 27, 2013