CHICAGO -- Nationals outfielders Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel are expected to have rehab stints for Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday. Morse, who is on the disabled list because of a strained right lat (back) muscle, is expected to play the outfield, while Ankiel (tight left quad) will be the designated hitter.
Morse is expected to be back with the Nationals around April 10th or 11, and manager Davey Johnson will not hesitate to put him back in the lineup. Ankiel is expected to be back on the field not too long after that.
Rizzo: Not looking to trade lefty Lannan
CHICAGO -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said that he is not in a rush to trade left-hander John Lannan, who asked to be dealt after being demoted to Triple A Syracuse on Tuesday.
Rizzo said Lannan spoke out of frustration, but the GM expects Lannan to help the Nationals in the near future. Trade interest in Lannan, according to Rizzo, is mild. Lannan is expected to report to Syracuse on Thursday.
According to a baseball source, the club has talked to at least 20 teams about Lannan. Four of those teams are said to be the Angels, Orioles, Red Sox and Tigers. The Nats, who want prospects or bench players in return, have not come close to making a deal for Lannan.
A lot of teams do not want to take on Lannan's $5 million salary, and the Nationals are not willing to eat the salary. Rizzo already has said that he will not give Lannan away.
Lannan's demotion was a surprise. Manager Davey Johnson announced last week that Lannan would be the fifth starter after Chien-Ming Wang strained his left hamstring in mid-March against the Yankees.
But Ross Detwiler outperformed Lannan this spring. Detwiler, at 26 a year younger than Lannan, is now the fifth starter in the rotation. Lannan had a 5.14 ERA, while Detwiler had a 3.16 ERA this spring.
"I've known John Lannan for a long time. He is an ultra-competitive person," Rizzo said. "He is frustrated, upset and mad. If he was any other way, I would wonder about him. He has been a solid contributor for the franchise for a long time. He is a good, solid starting pitcher in the big leagues.
"Unfortunately, it was about a roster spot, and that we had five guys better than him. He did not feel he could perform well out of the bullpen, [which] was another factor. This is about bringing the best 25 north, winning games in 2012 and beyond. We thought Ross Detwiler allowed us to win games in 2012 and beyond. This is a young stud we feel is going to be part of our long-term puzzle."
Asked if he made a mistake by announcing that Lannan would be in the rotation, Johnson said, "No, because, all things considered, he was a big winner the previous year. ... Seeing the work that Detwiler did in the spring and how he came off last year -- he came out of my 'pen and started and only got better. In discussions with Rizzo and the coaches, it became very clear that the few starts [Detwiler] was going to get -- before Chien-Ming Wang came back -- it would be better served as an organization [if we gave the starts] to Det.
"We know John Lannan is a good pitcher," Johnson continued. "But we are still developing Det. It was a good decision, an organizational decision, which I totally went along with."
Chicago is special place for Rizzo, DeRosa
CHICAGO -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo grew up in Chicago, and this will be his 25th Opening Day in Wrigley Field. He acknowledged that he used to skip school as a kid to attend the Cubs' home openers.
The weather was in the high 40s before game time, and Rizzo was wearing a light blue sweater.
"It's my favorite ballpark in baseball, for obvious reasons," Rizzo said. "This is a good day for Opening day in Wrigley Field. I'm good. I saw the parkas down there lined up, and I said, 'Come on, a parka?' Unless something drastically happens with the weather, I think I'm good where I'm at."
Outfielder/infielder Mark DeRosa had his best years in a Cubs uniform. The best one coming in 2008, when he hit .285 with 21 home runs, 87 RBIs and 103 runs scored.
DeRosa, who was Washington's Opening Day left fielder on Thursday, has fond memories about his two years with the Cubs.
"Those were definitely the two best years of my career," DeRosa said. "Two playoff appearances, back-to-back division champs. It's a very special place to play well and be a part of good teams. The fans really rallied around those teams. It was pretty special for me and my family. It's just exciting to be back, to be honest with you. It brings back good memories."
Wang, Storen stay behind to rehab in Florida
CHICAGO -- Nationals closer Drew Storen and right-hander Chien-Ming Wang are in Viera, Fla., for extended spring camp.
The Nationals are hoping that Wang can throw off a mound in three days. He is currently on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. He is not expected to be on the big league roster until late April or early May.
Storen is on the disabled list because of inflammation in his elbow, but he is already throwing off the mound. He will probably be throwing to hitters in about a week.
Storen will then have a rehab stint with one of Washington's Minor League affiliates before returning to the Nationals later this month.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.