Rainout postpones lineup shakeup
Day-night doubleheader scheduled for Thursday
WASHINGTON -- Manny Acta planned on shaking up the Nationals lineup on Wednesday.
Instead, thunderstorms shook up his plans.
The Nationals were rained out of Wednesday's game against the Cardinals, which will be made up on Thursday as part of a day-night doubleheader, with Game 1 at 1:10 p.m. and the second game at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Acta said he would keep the same lineup during Thursday's first game as he had scheduled for Wednesday night, including Elijah Dukes batting second, Aaron Boone at first base and Wily Mo Pena in left field.
The Dukes switch was prompted by a desire to see pitchers get more aggressive with him -- his recent increase in on-base percentage also played a role.
"He'll have an opportunity to hit more fastballs," Acta said. "At any time, these guys are going to start hitting the way they should."
Boone was slotted into first base because Dmitri Young was feeling under the weather with a sore throat.
Acta said he would be flexible as to what lineup to use for the second game, and that it was likely the team would not make catcher Jesus Flores catch 18 innings of baseball in one day.
The rainout lasted two hours and 36 minutes, while the players stayed in the clubhouse awaiting word of the final decision to postpone. Acta was asked if the postponement was like getting an off-day.
"It's actually not an off-day when you think about what time it is," he said. "We worked out and had to stay here a little late waiting on the rain."
The Nationals issued a press release saying that tickets for Wednesday's game could be exchanged for tickets to any future game, pending availability. A few hundred fans remained at Nationals Park until word of the cancellation was made final at about 10 p.m. ET.
It will be a test of the ballpark's capacity to host weekday games in the crowded downtown area, though with word of Thursday's game not arriving until Wednesday night, crowds will probably not match the same fervor as weekend games.
Rain has been the norm this week. Tuesday's game was also delayed twice because of rain, with the Cardinals winning, 6-1, at 12:19 a.m. ET.
Wednesday brought more of the same as thunderstorms continued to tear through the area, paired with high winds.
The tarp was whipping around as the grounds crew struggled to cover the field. A tent behind the center-field scoreboard was also blowing around wildly as Acta watched from the dugout.
The rainout also moderately affects the team's injury plans. Ronnie Belliard was scheduled to bat against Ryan Wagner to determine where he is in his rehab. Belliard is on the disabled list with a left calf strain. The team will try to get in the workout session before the first game of the doubleheader, if the field is ready.
If Belliard shows adequate progress, he could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Friday. Catcher Paul Lo Duca may also begin his rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, said Acta.
Michael Phillips is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.