With a late night in Atlanta and long flight home afterward, it wouldn't have been too surprising if Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker decided to give at least one or two of his regulars a day off even early in the season.
He told reporters this morning he considered the possibility, but it is easier said than done.
"I thought about it," Baker said. "But I thought about, if I was a regular, you want your name on the lineup card Opening Day at home.
"And then we have a day off tomorrow, they can rest tomorrow. And then we have an afternoon game the next day and then a day game on Sunday, and so I'll probably give some guys some days off next week."
Baker has talked since he got the job in Washington about keeping everyone healthy, keeping his bench players sharp and making sure that the Nationals, who have struggled with injury issues in recent season, have their regulars players available as often as possible.
He has to balance getting the regulars their at bats and making sure that the bench players don't get rusty sitting on the bench.
"There's a couple guys that need to play, because, you know, in Spring Training, you play almost every day, whether you get an at bat or two or start the game or whatever, so I don't want them to sit for too long, but also I don't want to wear these guys out and I really have to watch [Ryan] Zimmerman's foot. I don't want [Jose] Lobaton to get rusty, but with these off days, it's a hard sell to talk somebody into an off day and I don't want to just have to force anybody."
The lineup for the home opener is basically the same as the one he sent out for the first two games against the Braves:
The one noticeable difference, of course, is that Baker has Daniel Murphy and Jayson Werth flipped against Miami lefty Adam Conley after Murphy hit fifth and Werth sixth in each of the first two games.
"I wanted -- Jayson Werth hits left-handers real well," Baker explained. "Murph hits them too, but I've got to get Jayson going. Yesterday he hit the ball a lot better than he had been in a while."
"Like I always say, it takes an older guy longer to get his act together than a kid, but once they get it then they keep it, so I'm hoping that he has a big series here against the Marlins.
"And also I'm hoping that Michael Taylor has a big series here. Michael has had some pretty good success against the Marlins and so has Jayson, so I hope that translates into production."
Baker also talked about having Taylor atop the order again with Revere still unavailable. He said he actually spoke to the 25-year-old outfielder about what he expects from him in that role.
"I talked to Michael this morning and told him 'Don't worry about taking pitches or get deep in the count cause you're not that type of hitter yet,'" Baker explained.
"You look at Dee Gordon over there [with Miami], he doesn't walk much. His on base percentage is what he hits. He just happened to lead the league in hits. If Michael can do that... Michael's been prone to the strikeout in the past. He was a whole lot better this spring. and if you see a pitch -- first pitch -- you jump on it, especially with [Anthony] Rendon hitting behind you. If Michael swings at the first pitch in the game, and Rendon usually doesn't. Rendon's the kind of hitter that can be 0-2 and next thing you know it's 3-2. This guy has a great idea of the strike zone, which I think helps Michael be more aggressive early in the count, is going to cut down on strikeouts and [help] productivity at the same time."
Weather permitting, the Nationals and Marlins are set to get the home opener in the nation's capital started at 4:05 PM.