04/01/06 11:07 PM ET
Notes: Robinson sets opening lineup
Center fielder Watson to lead off against Mets on Monday
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
The starters for Washington will be:
1. Brandon Watson, CF
2. Jose Vidro, 2B
3. Nick Johnson, 1B
4. Jose Guillen, RF
5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
6. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
7. Royce Clayton, SS
8. Brian Schneider, C
9. Livan Hernandez, P
Robinson said it makes sense to use Watson as the leadoff hitter. The center fielder is expected to make things happen on offense by getting on base, stealing bases and scoring runs. The team considered putting Soriano at the top spot, but Robinson felt that the left fielder was better off in the middle of the order to drive in runs.
Soriano has spent most of his career at the top of the lineup, and Robinson didn't rule out batting him in the second hole during the season.
Robinson also said that he still expects Soriano to steal bases, even though he is no longer at the top spot.
"We have Soriano to help out the offense," Robinson said. "We have some production in the middle of the lineup. That's where I feel he is best suited. I will not hold him back [when it comes to stealing bases].
"It will be like anything else. In certain situations, I might stop him. It depends on the score of the game. Other than that, I will not stop anyone in the lineup. If they want to go, they have to use good judgment. That's the way I'm going to put it to him. He's going to run."
Is he ready? Robinson voiced some concern that Schneider may not be in game shape because he spent close to two weeks at the World Baseball Classic. Schneider enters the regular season after collecting just two hits in only 23 Spring Training at-bats. But the catcher pointed out that he never has had good springs during his career.
"There's nothing we can do about it now," Schneider said. "It's over. Now we'll just try to come back and do a good job [during the regular season]. I will continue to work in the cage with [hitting coach Mitchell Page] and continue to take extra batting practice."
On Saturday, Schneider went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera, and the catcher acknowledged that he didn't feel comfortable against the right-hander.
"He has good stuff against lefties," Schneider said. "When you throw 97 miles per hour with movement like that, you can get a lot of guys out."
Around the horn: The Nationals went 9-23-1 this spring. ... Daryle Ward ended up hitting .288 with five home runs and nine RBIs in the spring. ... Zimmerman led the Nationals with seven home runs and 15 RBIs this spring. ... Ramon Ortiz led the Nationals with three Spring Training victories.
Coming up: The Nationals travel to New York on Sunday in preparation for Monday afternoon's opener against the Mets at Shea Stadium. The Nationals will have a workout late Sunday morning at Shea.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.