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Veteran Mark DeRosa will start in left field and bat sixth in tomorrow's opener.
Morse (lat strain) and Ankiel (quadriceps tightness) were officially placed on the 15-day DL yesterday, though each is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg tomorrow. Morse is eligible to return as soon as Tuesday; Ankiel is eligible to come back on April 12.
Those injuries forced the Nationals to turn to their bench for temporary starters at two outfield positions, but the club feels like it's in a much more equipped to handle such a situation than it's been in the past.
"We're a lot deeper," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "DeRosa, [Chad] Tracy, [Xavier] Nady, they've been big-time players on big-league teams before. Davey said it all along: You're starting guys are your best guys, but the goal is to not have a big drop-off when your bench guys need to play. And I think for sure we have that here."
DeRosa will take Morse's spot in left field and bat sixth. The 37-year-old utilityman may prove to be one of the Nationals' most important offseason acquisitions, a proven hitter with a career .341 on-base percentage who has fully recovered from three wrist surgeries over the last 2 1/2 years.
Bernadina, meanwhile, will get another crack in center field after bouncing around between that position, left field and Class AAA Syracuse over the last four seasons. The 27-year-old figures to platoon for now with right-handed outfielder Brett Carroll, though Bernadina could start all three games at Wrigley Field this weekend with the Cubs sending three right-handers (Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija) to the mound.
In his search for a cleanup hitter while Morse is sidelined, Johnson has elected to go with Adam LaRoche, the left-handed-hitting first baseman who missed much of spring training with a bruised foot. LaRoche wound up starting the Nationals' final six exhibition games, though, and appeared fully recovered from the injury.
Right fielder Jayson Werth, who had been serving as the Nationals' cleanup hitter this spring with both Morse and LaRoche out, will bat fifth but could be bumped up to the No. 4 spot against left-handed starters.
Here's the full Opening Day lineup...
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
LF Mark DeRosa
CF Roger Bernadina
C Wilson Ramos
P Stephen Strasburg