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Will This One Be Played?

I've been in the press box at Nationals Park for all of seven minutes now, and I've been asked variations of that question a half-dozen times already. My response: Who am I, Al Roker?

I don't know. I've heard everything from, "It's going to clear up by early evening," to "Zero chance we get this one in." Right now, of course, it looks ugly. Rain and gray skies as far as you can see. Over at the Capital Weather Gang blog there's no definitive word, but there's a radar screen there that shows us under a big, green, slow-moving blob.

In any case, I'm hoping the Nationals will at least have a lineup posted in their clubhouse when it opens at 3:30, just to find out how Manny Acta will play things at the top of his lineup, with Lastings Milledge now in Class AAA Syracuse and Cristian Guzman likely out at least a few days with a pulled hammy. I'm guessing it will be either Anderson Hernandez or Alberto Gonzalez leading off. But I'm here to ask: Why not Elijah Dukes? With a .386 on-base percentage last year, he's like a poor man's Rickey Henderson. And while he has more power than a typical leadoff man, it's not as if the Nationals lack for RBI options in the middle of their lineup, the way they used to. Tell me: Am I crazy?

We will also presumably get word of a corresponding roster move, to fill Milledge's spot. I'll have all that for y'all in a little while.

Also, while we're waiting to hear the status of this game, do me a favor and go over to Baseball Insider and weigh in on my topic for this week's edition of The List, where we're ranking the five home openers, from worst to best, since the Nationals arrived in D.C. in 2005.


By Dave Sheinin  |  April 15, 2009; 2:48 PM ET
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Next: Tonight's Game Postponed


You guys have any idea how this rain - and last night's in Syracuse, will affect the rotation? I bought tickets for Sunday hoping to watch Double N pitch, I'm worried I'm gonna get someone else...

Posted by: CharlieF | April 15, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Why not Ryan Zimmerman in the lead-off role?

Posted by: lowcountry | April 15, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Zimm is having trouble finding his way to base consistently so far this season.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 15, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update.

Posted by: mhenke | April 15, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't matter if this game gets played or not... The real game tonight is the first round of the NHL playoffs at Verizon Center.

Go CAPS !!!

Posted by: randy_boyd | April 15, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Given his limited options, Manny should lead off with Hernandez. Might as well see if he can do the job. When Guz comes back he should be at #2 but Johnson could fill the bill tonight. Then Zimm, Dunn, Dukes, Kearns, Flores, and Gonzales.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 15, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Without Guzman, this is not as long of a batting order. One of AH or AG has to be either 1 or 2, and the other should be Dukes or Nick. Cannot go Flores - AH - AG as 6 - 7 - 8. Alternatively, if Cintron walks through the door, maybe bat him 2d behind Dukes and play Cintron at 2d.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 15, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Granted, devil dog. I was asking more as an abstraction though than based on his recent performance.
Zimm is having trouble finding his way to base consistently so far this season.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 15, 2009 3:21 PM

Posted by: lowcountry | April 15, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

The better question to be asking is when MLB will make up this game if it is in fact rained out. If they play a double tomorrow (no chance IMO) then we still have the same issue with Jordan Zimmermann, but if they will make it up on the next visit then no problem having J-Zimm pitch tonight for SYR and start for the Nats in the bigs either 4/20 or the later day (depending on when the game will be made up I guess).

If they do post a line-up for tonight's rain out I'm guessing;
1. Hernandez (2B)
2. Dukes (CF)
3. Zimmerman (3B)
4. Dunn (LF)
5. Johnson (1B)
6. Kearns (RF)
7. Flores (CA)
8. Gonzalez (SS)
9. Martis (SP)

Posted by: estuartj | April 15, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats had any consideration for their fans, they'd call it off now. It's not like passing afternoon thunderstorms...its going to be cold, rainy and windy all night. How many more hamstrings need to be tweaked and ankles turned? The only people who would be comfortable watching this game will be in the luxury boxes or the Diamond Club. Thanks, Stan!

Posted by: ramgut | April 15, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Postponing the game would be an act of mercy and a win-win for the Nationals.

Posted by: bupbups | April 15, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

You're not crazy. Keep the backup infielders at the bottom of the order so your hitters get more ABs.


A rainout would be a blessing, though.


Posted by: utec | April 15, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I just heard Zimmerman Just signed a long term deal. Any truth?

Posted by: JDB1 | April 15, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of Dukes hitting first. Speed, OBP and the power is a plus. Considering the way we've been playing, having our best player (the homer on Monday was sick) getting the most at-bats would be a plus.

If we're talking hypothetical lineups how about this:

Dukes CF
Guzman SS
Dunn LF
Zim 3B
Johnson 1B
Flores C
Kearns/Willingham RF
Hernandez 2B

This is assuming everybody's available, of course. The idea here is to alternate on-base guys - ED, NJ, AD - with contact hitters. Dukes gets on, Guzzie slaps him over, Dunn loads 'em up, Zim drives 'em in and so on. As for today, if there's a game, I think it should go as follows:

Dukes CF
Cintron 2B
Dunn LF
Zim 3B
Johnson 1B
Willingham RF
Flores C
Gonzalez SS
Martis P

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of AD drawing walks in front of Zim as opposed to Dunn walking behind Zim, leaving things to Kearns/NJ/Willingham. It's hard not to argue that Dunn and Dukes are our best hitters now, so feature them in the 1 and 3 holes.

Sorry, the rain makes me drone on.

Posted by: sec307 | April 15, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Hagerstown game has been postponed due to weather.

Posted by: ilovethenats | April 15, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: ilovethenats | April 15, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Just got off phone with Nats executive office, game today is postponed, make-up date TBD.

Posted by: dcarroll321 | April 15, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Channel 4 is saying game is cancelled for tonight.

Posted by: HALjr | April 15, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps a rainout is the most merciful outcome for this team right now.

The pitchers can't get anybody out and the Nationals are one of the worst fielding taems so far in the majors (once again).

Posted by: leopard09 | April 15, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mntb316 | April 15, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Channel 4 may be saying it's called but the Nationals' voicemail system (202-675-6287, select prompt 5 for inclement weather updates) is still saying the game is on for tonight.

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 15, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm new in town. For future purposes, in a rain situation such as this, what is the best way to find out if a game has been cancelled, so we don't have to go to the stadium and wait it out? Check the Nationals website? Wash Post website? Call the ballpark? Suggestions, please. Thanks

Posted by: coonchuck1 | April 15, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Masn just said the same thing that the game postponed. I'll be interested to hear what happens to the roster with the injury/demotion/promotion issues facing this club. I'd love to see Dukes at the top with Johnson or A-hern in the 2 hole. I worry a bit about Johnson's swing I don't think he's in true game form yet. Also while Milledge is at AAA i'd like to see more of Willingham. I know he's far from the ideal RF but i'd like to see what his bat could do and maybe help increase his trade value.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 15, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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