Associated Press photo
Steve Lombardozzi is making his second start in left field this afternoon.
Davey Johnson has considered a number of possibilities, from Roger Bernadina to Mark DeRosa to Brett Carroll to Steve Lombardozzi. And for now, the manager isn't making his plan public.
"I've got a pretty good idea," Johnson said when asked if he's got an Opening Day lineup in mind yet.
Johnson, though, has to prepare for multiple contingencies due to the uncertain status of both Morse and first baseman Adam LaRoche. LaRoche is getting at-bats in a minor-league game today, has been cleared to run the bases and could be back in the big-league lineup Thursday, so his chances of returning in time for Opening Day look plausible.
Morse's chances don't look as strong. Though he insists his strained lat muscle feels great, team doctors haven't given him the green light yet to resume baseball activities (though Johnson said he caught Morse with a couple of bats in his hand this morning at Space Coast Stadium).
If Morse can't make it back in time -- but assuming LaRoche does return -- Johnson probably will use either Bernadina or DeRosa in left field on Opening Day in Chicago. DeRosa offers a better bat; Bernadina is better defensively, and could be a better matchup against Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster.
What about Lombardozzi? Well, he's making his second career start (and fourth career appearance) in left field today against the Marlins.
But reading between the lines, Johnson seemed to indicate he doesn't look at the rookie as likely candidate to start games in the outfield once the season begins ... barring an emergency. Johnson also continues to tout Lombardozzi as a future everyday second baseman.
"It's one thing if he thought I was trying to make him into a utility player. I'm not," the manager said. "I'm giving him experience in different spots for a need that might come up on the team, and I didn't want it to be in a major-league game and he's never even been in the outfield, didn't even have a glove, didn't know where to go, didn't have glasses to go out there. This could possibly be his last time out there."