Their No. 3 hitter was placed on the disabled list with an abdominal strain that will keep him out at least 15 days, quite possibly more. Their No. 4 hitter was held out of the lineup with a mild groin strain, despite his insistence he could play. And their No. 5 hitter was a mid-afternoon scratch due to flu-like symptoms.
The Nationals sure picked the wrong time to face the four-time defending NL East champion Phillies.
"We're OK," manager Jim Riggleman insisted. "This is just something you go through now and then."
Maybe so, but the Nationals certainly found themselves hamstrung heading into Tuesday night's series opener against Philadelphia, with Ryan Zimmerman on the DL, Adam LaRoche out with the strained groin and Michael Morse out with an illness.
The prolonged loss of Zimmerman will be felt most on the Nationals' roster. After aggravating the same abdominal strain that hampered him early in spring training, the third baseman was hopeful rest and treatment would allow him to return quickly. Instead, team officials decided he needed to be shut down for at least five days, necessitating the DL stint.