After last night's loss to the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards, Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters that there might be some changes in the 27-27 Nats' future. "Well, I mean, we need to get some guys back that are hurt," the frustrated 70-year-old skipper said, "And some of the young guys are struggling, you know. We'll probably make some changes, but that's for another day." Asked if it was more about personnel or some his players' approach, Johnson, who lamented that the team had chased pitches from Freddy Garcia out of the zone all night in OPACY talked more about the team's pitch selection. "It's just a little inexperience," he explained, "We're trying to make something happen and expanding the zone, we've got to get strikes. That's all."
With Bryce Harper apparently still unavailable, however, there was only so much the manager could do to tweak the lineup for tonight's series-opening game with the Braves in Atlanta:
Tonight's lineup at ATL: Span CF, Lombardozzi LF, Zimmerman 3B, LaRoche 1B, Desmond SS, Bernadina RF, Espinosa 2B, Suzuki C, Strasburg P— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) May 31, 2013
Instead of Steve Lombardozzi (.234/.254/.306) at second in place of the struggling Danny Espinosa (.162/.194/.284), the Nats' utility man's taking over in left for the struggling Tyler Moore (.144/.196/.267). Outside of that and the presence of 2009 first round pick Stephen Strasburg on the mound, there's not much difference between tonight's lineup and the one that lost the O's last night. The Nationals were hoping to get Bryce Harper (knee) back tonight, but though there was no explanation (and Davey Johnson hasn't talked to reporters yet today), he's not in the starting lineup for the first game of three to be played in Turner Field this weekend.
Strasburg faces the Braves for the third time this season. So far in his career, the 24-year-old right-hander is (3-4) with a 3.51 ERA, 19 walks (3.51 BB/9) and 59 Ks (10.92 K/9) in 48.2 IP against the Nationals' NL East rivals. After two less-than-impressive starts at the beginning of May, Strasburg's turned it around, going (2-0) in his last three starts with a 1.17 ERA in his last 23.0 innings of work. Last time out in Turner Field, the Nats' no.1 starter gave up six hits, four walks and two earned runs in 6.0 innings on the mound in a 3-2 loss to Atlanta.
• Minor League Notes: The Nationals didn't get Bryce Harper back tonight, and they won't have Jayson Werth this weekend as they hoped, but the Nats' Double-A affiliate has two players returning to action tonight according to Patriot-News writer Geoff Morrow:
He's baaaacckkk! (Though at DH.) Anthony Rendon returns to #HbgSens lineup after a week away following dental procedure.— Geoff Morrow (@RageAgainstGMo) May 31, 2013
The Nationals and Braves go head-to-head at 7:30 pm EST tonight in Atlanta...