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Stephen Strasburg's spring debut: The vibe and the lineups

Contrary to earlier rumors, Stephen Strasburg is not going to face the Detroit Tigers by himself. The lineup:

1. Nyjer Morgan, CF
2. Cristian Guzman, SS
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Adam Kennedy, 2B
6. Ian Desmond, RF
7. Chris Duncan, 1B
8. Josh Whitesell, DH
9. Wil Nieves, 2
-- Stephen Strasburg, SP

Josh Willingham makes his left field spring debut, and Wil Nieves gets the high-profile assignment. ("That's something to tell my kids when I retire - 'I caught that guy first,' " Nieves said.) Why Nieves? Well, no real reason.

"I've got a lot of confidence in Nieves," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "I'm not really that concerned with who catches him. All of them are good catchers. We're getting Pudge ready for the season. As we line these days up - I've set up Dunn's days, I've set up Zimmerman's days, I've set up Pudge's days long before I knew what day Stephen Strasburg was pitching. It just so happened this was a day he wasn't going to play. It's more about getting Pudge ready for the season than it is Stephen Strasburg."

The attitude reflects how the Nationals are approaching today. Right now, they're somehow remaining composed as they take infield. There's certainly curiosity, and when 1:05 p.m. rolls around the weight room will be empty and the dugout will be packed. But as one Nationals player said, "it ain't something we haven't see before." The point wasn't that they're tired of the attention being paid to Strasburg or anything remotely like that. The point was this: We are thrilled he's on our side and we hope he succeeds beyond imagination. But, dude, we're big league players and we've seen 100 on a radar gun.

"You know," Riggleman said, "I bet you if you asked some of our veteran players, they would be, 'Oh, yeah, it is today he's pitching' more so than, 'We've really been waiting for this.' They've seen young pitchers come in. Nothing like this, but they've seen guys come in. They're excited because their feeling is it brightens up our future. But whether it was yesterday, today or tomorrow, I don't think they are getting too far ahead of themselves as far as the excitement level. They're worried about when we open up in April and where we go from there."

There will be other pitchers throwing today, and it could be important for them. By early next week, Riggleman said, the Nationals will "have a significantly lower number of people in camp." Starters will begin throwing more innings and the Nationals will need to thin the herd of pitchers in order to pinpoint which starters and relievers they want to head north with. So, today's Strasburg relievers:

Miguel Batista (he'll go two innings, like a starter)
Aaron Thompson
Atahualpa Severino
Victor Garate
Tyler Walker
Andrew Kown
Josh Wilkie

And the team Strasburg will face:

1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Clete Thomas, LF
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Carlos Guillen, DH
6. Don Kelly, 3B
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Scott Sizemore, 2B
9. Ramon Santiago, SS
-- Rick Porcello, SP

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 9, 2010; 10:26 AM ET
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Next: Catching up with Chad Cordero


I've always loved that cartoon. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

It was my inspiration for a lineup post, back in the day:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only one thinking, "please don't get shelled?"

Posted by: Kev29 | March 9, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

This has probably been beaten like a drum on other threads today, but I just wanted to say: "Nice job, Post editors, putting a MASSIVE photo of Manny Acta on the front page of Sports today instead of our boy Stephen." WTF!

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | March 9, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

so I'm guessing, then, that Storen WON'T be pitching as well today as was previously reported?

Posted by: erocks33 | March 9, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Just got 5 minutes of my time during lunch to open the Sports Section of the WAPO only to be greeted by the mug of Manny Acta.

WAPO Sport Desk-"Manny Acta is no longer the manager, no one cares". However I'm sure you couldn't wait to have Shinner relay the dysfunctional info in regards to the Nats. It wasn't Manny, oh no it was everyone else.

On of all days, you put this piece of garbage on the front page and for years (outside of 2005 and Zimms OD walkoff in Nats Park) you have relegated this team to the back pages. The Nats are a MLB team playing in your city, if it means anything to you its more revenue/profit, but of course thats a foreign term to the Pravda of the West!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 9, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Storen is pitching tomorrow.

and it would be good to have the "herd of pitchers" thinned somewhat... The problem is, how are they going to thin 'em? I thought performance in the first go-around wasn't relevant?

Posted by: swang30 | March 9, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Posted by: Section220 | March 9, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah relax everyone. It was agreat story and we do care. It's the owners everyone, not Manny.

Posted by: DCSec112 | March 9, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I'm seeing Guzgone at SS and Desmond in the Outfield. That's why this team sucks and they need to get rid of Riggleygum fast!!! Where's I-Roid!!!!

Posted by: billm32 | March 9, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

New vendors at the park this year will include the Pepsid/Tums/Maalox guy...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 9, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Huh? I don't see any post by Mr. Madison.

In other news, the t-shirt gun will be replaced with the tranquilizer gun.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

the antacid isn't so much because of the play as the imbalance of humors and dyspepsia in the stands. tho the team ain't helpin'.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 9, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

how will they know which ones aren't already asleep?
In other news, the t-shirt gun will be replaced with the tranquilizer gun.
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2010 12:49 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 9, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, I'll get back to you on that one.


how will they know which ones aren't already asleep?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that's kinda the thinking behind the tranquilizer gun as well.


the antacid isn't so much because of the play as the imbalance of humors and dyspepsia in the stands. tho the team ain't helpin'.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 9, 2010 12:54 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

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