CINCINNATI -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was scratched for Monday's start with Class A Potomac because of a stiff neck. He will be evaluated Tuesday.

Zimmermann, who has missed most of the season because of elbow reconstruction, has pitched in three rehab games and hasn't allowed an earned run in nine innings.

Zimmermann is tentatively scheduled to return to the big league by August. Once he returns, Zimmermann and right-hander Stephen Strasburg are expected to form a 1-2 combination in the rotation.

Willingham wants to remain with Nats

CINCINNATI -- Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham acknowledged on Monday that he doesn't pay attention to trade rumors -- even the latest one which has him linked to the Braves.

However, Willingham made it known that he would like to stay with Washington because of the people he has met in the organization since he was acquired from the Marlins in November 2008.

"I have really gotten comfortable with the people in the organization -- the ownership all the way down to every employee," said Willingham, who was hitting .276 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs entering Monday's matchup against the Reds. "That means a lot when you talk about being comfortable in baseball. I feel very comfortable here. I like everybody in the organization."

Asked if he would be traded after general manager Mike Rizzo said Willingham "is part of the family. We want him around long term," the right-handed-hitting slugger believes he would remain a member of the Nats. It's no secret that Willingham is one of Rizzo's favorite players on the team.

"Rizzo has never told me something that was not true, and that started last year in Miami when I wasn't playing," Willingham said. "We had breakfast together and laid it on the table. I told him how I felt and he told me how he felt.

"He told me how it was going to happen and it's exactly how it happened. He has been as honest with me as anybody. So I absolutely believe [I will not be traded]."

Willingham became the everyday left fielder by June and hit .260 with 24 home runs and 61 RBIs in 2009.

Maxwell optioned; Atilano recalled

CINCINNATI -- After Monday's 7-2 loss at Great American Ball Park, the Nationals optioned outfielder Justin Maxwell to Triple-A Syracuse and recalled right-hander Luis Atilano, who will pitch against the Reds on Tuesday night.

Maxwell, 26, was 4-for-38 (.105) with one home run, three RBIs and 14 walks. Asked if he was getting frustrated about being sent down as much as he has this season, Maxwell said, "The game is not frustrating. The process can be. Like I said before, I have a job to do. I'm not worried about all that other stuff."

Atliano will make his second stint in the big leagues. He was 6-6 with a 4.85 ERA before being optioned to Syracuse before the All-Star break. He last pitched Thursday against Pawtucket. He lasted 2 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits.

Morgan having problems stealing bases

CINCINNATI -- Although Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan is showing signs of life with the bat, he is having problems stealing bases. Entering Monday's game against the Reds, Morgan has stolen 21 bases and been caught 13 times.

Morgan is baffled as to why he has not been successful this year. In 2009, Morgan stole 24 bases and was caught seven times before breaking his left hand sliding into third base in late August against the Cubs.

"I've never been through a rut like this, not even in the Minors. I'm not hurting physically and I don't feel slow," Morgan said. "I have to be smarter and understand the situations -- when it's the right time to run and not just running to run."