WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are still looking for a taker for left-hander John Lannan, but it is nearly impossible to trade him, according to a baseball source. It hasn't helped that Lannan is off to a slow start with Triple-A Syracuse.
Entering Wednesday's action, Lannan has allowed nine earned runs in six innings. Another factor in Lannan's low trade appeal is that opposing teams don't want to take on the left-hander's $5 million salary, especially since a lot of teams consider Lannan no more than a fifth starter. As one opposing executive put it, "teams would rather use a low-paid Minor Leaguer for the fifth spot before dealing with Lannan's money."
Pitching coach Steve McCatty believes Lannan will bounce back and become the pitcher who led the Nationals in wins with 10 last year.
"He is mentally tough, I think," McCatty said. "I know it is really tough. My experience tells me that. I've been through it, and it's hard to do. Again, if you are not mentally tough in this game, it will eat you alive. I think he will be able to handle it. He understands the situation. Hopefully, he will go out and have a great game. He is a quality pitcher."
Wang strong in simulated game Wednesday
WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang threw 35 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday in Viera, Fla., and didn't have any problems throwing the baseball, according to manager Davey Johnson. It was the first time Wang faced hitters since suffering a left hamstring strain on March 15 in a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees.
Johnson said Wang's arm was strong, and that will allow him to start a rehab assignment within five days. He is expected to pitch three innings. It's not known which Minor League affiliate Wang will pitch for. Johnson predicts the rehab assignment will not last 30 days.
Once he is ready to return to the Major Leagues, it will be interesting to see if Wang will be in the rotation. Entering Wednesday's action, the current rotation had a 1.91 ERA. The fifth starter, Ross Detwiler, has allowed one earned run in 10 innings.
Johnson said the Nationals will have a good problem once Wang is ready to return to action.
"It's kind of a nice problem being that crowded. No doubt about it, but that is going to be a [general manager Mike] Rizzo problem," Johnson said about the rotation decision.
Lidge has been dealing with case of vertigo
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson didn't know if reliever Brad Lidge would be available for Tuesday's game against the Astros, because he had been dealing with vertigo for about a week.
After doing some head exercises, Lidge told Johnson that he was available to pitch. Lidge ended up saving his second game of the season in a 1-0 victory against Houston.
Lidge is currently splitting the closer's role with Henry Rodriguez in the absence of Drew Storen, who hopes to return by the All-Star break after having bone chips removed from his right elbow last week.
Bernadina gets start in left field vs. Houston
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he is not giving up on outfielder Roger Bernadina, who was able to get a start in left field against the Astros on Wednesday.
Since Rick Ankiel returned from his left quad injury last Saturday, Bernadina has spent most of the time on bench. He is off to a slow start, going 4-for-28 (.143) entering Wednesday's game.
Would the Nationals try to trade Bernadina? An opposing executive believes it would be impossible, because it has taken Bernadina's bat too long to develop. Bernadina entered the season with a .242 career batting average, and he is out of Minor league options.
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.