03/27/12 6:10 PM ET
Nats like Lombardozzi's bat, versatility
By Anthony Chiang / MLB.com
The second baseman has already played at shortstop and third base during Spring Training, and he started his second game in left field Tuesday against the Marlins. If Michael Morse, the team's projected starting left fielder, is still out with a strained right lat muscle on Opening Day, Lombardozzi gives manager Davey Johnson another option at the position.
"There's no secret I really like watching Lombardozzi play," Johnson said. "But in reality, No. 1, I'm looking for who can help us if Morse is not here. I do see Lombardozzi being a definite candidate to make this ballclub. If Morse is here, that limits options of where I can get him some playing time."
Lombardozzi has put together an impressive spring, as he entered Tuesday's game hitting .306 with a home run and two RBIs. In order to get his bat in the lineup once the regular season begins, Johnson wants to make sure he can play the switch-hitter at different positions.
However, if there isn't an opportunity to give Lombardozzi consistent playing time, Johnson would rather allow him to continue to grow in the Minors.
"I'm just covering all bases, that's what you do. You look at all options," Johnson said. "In reality, what you try to end up doing is No. 1, what's best for the player, and No. 2, what's best for the organization. So, I'm kind of giving him a crash course in being a utility player, and I'm not just limiting it to second and short."
When asked if he was putting too much on the 23-year-old's plate, Johnson quickly defended the way he has handled Lombardozzi during Spring Training.
"He's fine," Johnson said. "He has done an admirable job wherever I've put him. .. It's one thing if he thought I was trying to make him into a utility player; I'm not. I'm giving him experience in different spots just in case a need comes up on the team."
Healthy Lidge enjoying spring with Nats
JUPITER, Fla. -- Injury problems have limited Brad Lidge's opportunities in Spring Training in recent years, but he is making the most of it this time around.
The 35-year-old is healthy, and his numbers show it. Lidge has allowed just one run in seven innings this spring, and has struck out nine and walked none.
"I feel real good right now, for sure," Lidge said. "I think having a full healthy spring for me has really been a blessing. The last couple of years for me has been rough in Spring Training.
"But this year, over the winter I threw a lot, and I got into Spring Training and got to do everything I would normally do, which for me, is a very important thing. I'm not fighting anything, my body feels good, my arm feels good, so I can just go out there and throw."
In Lidge's most recent outing, the right-hander retired the Marlins in order in a perfect eighth inning during Washington's 3-1 loss Tuesday.
"I like what I've seen from him," manager Davey Johnson said. "He's throwing the ball good, making quality pitches and making it look easy."
With regular Nationals closer Drew Storen still recovering from inflammation in his right elbow, Lidge is expected to split the closing duties with Henry Rodriguez once the regular season begins.
Lidge is familiar with that role, as he has collected 223 saves during his 10-year career in the Majors.
"We all want Drew to get back as fast as possible. He's the closer, and hopefully it won't take him that long," Lidge said. "But obviously, I would be happy to have that role. I still feel like, in my mind, when I'm healthy that's something I love to do and I'm very happy to do it."
Nats cautious with Ankiel, who exits early
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals center fielder Rick Ankiel left Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Marlins after three innings because of discomfort in his left quadriceps.
This issue is nothing new for Ankiel, who has been battling the injury for the past week.
"He said from all of the massages he has been getting and all of the treatment he has been getting, he didn't know if it was sore or just a little tight," Johnson said. "But he said he wasn't very concerned about it. Just as a precaution, I took him out."
Ankiel was already scheduled to miss Wednesday's game against the Mets, but the Nationals hope to have the 32-year-old back in the lineup Thursday.
LaRoche, Morse, Storen getting healthy
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Nationals received good news on the injury front Tuesday.
First baseman Adam LaRoche, left fielder Michael Morse and closer Drew Storen continued to make progress toward returning.
LaRoche, who has missed most of Spring Training because of a sore left foot, was seen jogging on the outfield grass Monday morning, making cuts to his left without any problems. On Tuesday, Johnson said LaRoche "might" play in a Grapefruit League game on Thursday, as LaRoche's chances of being available on Opening Day continue to look good.
Morse is not as far along as LaRoche, but he is scheduled to start throwing Wednesday, as he continues to recover from a strained right lat muscle. And on Tuesday, Johnson ran into Morse and received some encouraging words.
"I was coming out as he was coming in, and he had two bats in his hands, and he said, 'Don't tell them, but I'm feeling pretty good,'" Johnson said.
Although it appears that Morse took some swings, Johnson didn't make it clear that was the case.
Regarding Storen, he was expected to begin throwing Tuesday. The 24-year-old has not pitched in a game since March 7 because of inflammation in his right elbow.
If Storen is not ready for the start of the regular season, Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez will split closing duties for the Nationals.
Manager Davey Johnson said he expects to make the next round of cuts to Washington's roster on Wednesday or Thursday.
Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.