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Steve Lombardozzi played six innings in left field yesterday.
But then came the fifth inning yesterday at Space Coast Stadium, and who found himself trotting out to left field but Lombardozzi, the 23-year-old who had never spent a second playing anything but the infield in his professional career.
The remaining six innings during the Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Braves proved uneventful for Lombardozzi. He did come charging in to make a semi-tough catch on a shallow fly ball. And he caught a medium-deep fly with a man on third in the 10th, unable to pull the trigger and attempt to gun down the tagging runner at the plate.
Otherwise, there wasn't much reason to even notice Lombardozzi in that unfamiliar position.
"I thought he did alright," Johnson said. "He handled all the chances."
Don't be surprised to see more of Lombardozzi out there over the next two weeks as the Nationals try to determine if he can play enough positions to merit a utility spot on the club's Opening Day roster.
A natural second baseman, Lombardozzi isn't about to unseat Danny Espinosa (or shortstop Ian Desmond) for an everyday job. The Nationals, though, are agreeable to keeping him on the roster if Johnson can find a way to get him 250-300 at-bats over the full season.
That's only going to happen if Lombardozzi can bounce from position to position, giving several regulars a day off.
"We've got two guys [Espinosa and Desmond] that are on the upswing that I think a lot of," Johnson said Tuesday. "It's really more about getting him at-bats in a game and seeing if he can handle that role prior to being an everyday player."
Johnson likens the Maryland native to another versatile player who came up as a second baseman but has proven his ability to start at multiple positions while contributing to a playoff club: Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist.
So far this spring, Lombardozzi is producing enough at the plate to suggest he deserves a roster spot. After going 1-for-3 yesterday, he's hitting .306 (11-for-36) with a homer, two RBI and two walks in 15 games.
"He's having a remarkable spring," Johnson said. "And I enjoy watching him compete to make this club."