The attention today at Nationals Park may be centered on Stephen Strasburg, but Brad Peacock, Steve Lombardozzi and a bunch of other players promoted from Class AAA Syracuse deserve their moment in the sun ... er, rain.
Peacock and Lombardozzi were among six players added to the active roster before tonight's scheduled game, joining right-handers Yunesky Maya and Craig Stammen, lefty Atahualpa Severino and outfielder Corey Brown.
Combined with five other players who were either called up or activated off the disabled list in the last week -- Strasburg, Tom Milone, Roger Bernadina, Ivan Rodriguez and Doug Slaten -- the Nationals actually have 36 active players at the moment, a staggeringly high number.
In fact, the only four players on the current 40-man roster who aren't actively in the big leagues are Ryan Mattheus (on the 15-day DL) and recent draft picks Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke.
To make room for three of the additions today, the Nationals transferred Cole Kimball to the 60-day DL, designated Garrett Mock for assignment and gave Adam Carr his outright release.
Of the players now in the big leagues for the first time, Peacock and Lombardozzi stand out.
Peacock, a 41st-round draft pick in 2006 who had only pitched eight innings in high school -- he actually played third base at the time -- burst onto the scene this season as one of the Nationals' top pitching prospects. The right-hander went a combined 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 25 starts between Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse and earned a slot in this summer's All-Star Futures Game.
"That's why I'm so excited to be here," he said inside the clubhouse this afternoon. "I never thought I'd actually be here."
Peacock isn't just here to watch. He's slated to pitch tonight, either in relief of Strasburg or as the game's starter if the Nationals elect not to let Strasburg pitch due to the weather.
Peacock, who had never even set foot inside a big-league ballpark until Chase Field in July for the Futures Game, could barely hide his enthusiasm today.
"Oh god, yeah, it's unbelievable," he said. "It's what I've been waiting for my whole life, and I'm just ready to get out there and get the nerves out. Get on the mound and just do what I do."
Lombardozzi, meanwhile, is in a major-league ballpark only 30 minutes from his home in Columbia, Md. The son of a former Twins and Red Sox infielder of the same name, he hit a combined .309 with eight homers, 52 RBI with 25 doubles and nine triples at Harrisburg and Syracuse.
"To be so close to home, it's a pretty unbelievable feeling," he said.
Lombardozzi has played primarily second base in the minors, but the Nationals plan for him to see time at shortstop as well this month (and perhaps a few innings at third base).
"The more positions, the better," he said.