Nats get ready for the Hoyas

Craig Heist,

VIERA, Fla. – After almost two weeks of workouts, the Nationals will finally play a game the first time this spring when they host Georgetown University at Space Coast Stadium on Friday beginning at 12 noon.

Manager Davey Johnson put out his lineup for the Hoyas game at 12 p.m. on Thursday. From the start, the skipper said he will not be using his regular players against the Hoyas, other than Bryce Harper.

Johnson’s lineup is as follows:

    1 Steve Lombardozzi 2B
    2 Xavier Paul LF
    3 Bryce Harper RF
    4 Tyler Moore 1B
    5 Brett Carroll DH
    6 Anthony Rendon 3B
    7 Corey Brown CF
    8 Andres Blanco SS
    9 Sandy Leon C

Left-hander Matt Purke will start for the Nationals and will be followed by RHP’s Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Rafael Martin, Waldis Joaquin, Jeff Fulchino and LHP Atahualpa Severino.

Purke will be limited to 40 pitches or three innings, whichever comes first, and Johnson would like to get eight innings out of the first four pitchers.

The Nationals will also bring five players over from the accelerated camp to use off the bench — infielders Justin Bloxom, Zach Walters and Jeff Kobernus, and outfielders Destin Hood and Michael Taylor.

The Hoyas come into this exhibition game having already started their season. They are 6-2 so far under head coach Pete Wilk, who will start right-hander Will Harris. Harris owns a 2-0 mark with a 4.30 ERA.

They Hoyas made this trip to Space Coast Stadium once before on Feb. 28, 2008. The Nationals won that game 15-0, but Wilk says no matter what the outcome, playing this game is big for his team.

“It’s a lifetime memory for these guys,” Wilk said. “When I was in college, we played the Twins and I can still remember each at bat I had, each ground ball I had and that was 25 or 26 years ago. It’s a big thrill. Just watching these guys when we played them in 08, even though we were horrendous, there was a bounce in their step, a big smile on their face and that’s what this is about, creating lifetime memories.”

LaRoche takes it easy

First baseman Adam LaRoche, who is making his way back from shoulder surgery, was held out of workouts again today — two days after turning his left ankle running the bases.

“There is something about the third day of spring,” LaRoche said. “Never practice on the third day again. I think that’s when I hurt my arm last year.”

LaRoche said if there was a game today, he could have gone out there and played but in the early part of the spring there is no reason to take any chances.

“I just don’t want to flare it up anymore than what it is,” he said. “There is no point risking dragging this thing out another week if we can knock it out in a couple of days. I would rather get some throwing in and get some wings in and just stay off it as far as running.”

LaRoche says he plans to play in his first game on Sunday when the Nationals take on the Astros. He has stolen just five bases in the big leagues but has a career high 10 when playing at Myrtle Beach in 2001.

“I may not be stealing any bases on Sunday if that’s what you guys are wondering,” he said, laughing.

Does he have a goal for this year?

“Ten. I’ve talked to Werth. He’s going to walk me through it. I’m going to be looking in at him in the dugout and he’s going to tell me whether to go or not. That way I have someone to blame it on if I get thrown out.”

As for his shoulder, he says even though he feels soreness it’s something he is not concerned with.

“It’s a soreness that’s not painful which is exactly what I need right now,” he said. “I’m getting some work in but not overworking it enough to where it hurts. It’s a ‘getting in shape soreness’ from stretching it out the last week, so, taking a few days off and staying off it isn’t going to hurt anything.”

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