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Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo have assembled a roster they believe can win this year.
If anything, the Nationals had stockpiled too much talent in big-league camp this spring and couldn't find enough spots to keep everyone worthy of a job. Thus, you'll now find John Lannan pitching in Syracuse and Chad Durbin pitching in Atlanta.
Whether general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson made the right decisions in assembling their Opening Day roster remains to be seen. For now, let's take a closer look at the 25 men who will take the field tomorrow in Chicago (plus the six men who will begin the season on the disabled list)...
WILSON RAMOS -- After a harrowing experience in his native Venezuela this winter, the young catcher was relieved and happy to be back among teammates this spring. He'll start five or six times per week behind the plate and look to build off his strong rookie season.
JESUS FLORES -- Once the Nationals' long-term catching answer, he lost that title after a two-year battle with a shoulder injury and after the emergence of Ramos. But he still offers a strong bat off the bench and figures to be used often as a pinch-hitter.
ADAM LaROCHE -- Last season was an unmitigated disaster for the veteran first baseman, who tried to play through a shoulder tear but succumbed to the injury by May. He missed time this spring with a foot injury but returned for the final week of camp and looks ready to finally provide the big bat and smooth glove the Nationals expected all along.
DANNY ESPINOSA -- A potential All-Star during the first half of his rookie season, he fell apart over the summer and fall. The young second baseman arrived at camp this spring confident he could recapture his top form, but he continued to strikeout at an alarming rate.
IAN DESMOND -- Having made strides defensively in 2011, the shortstop will now look to bring his offensive game to a higher level in 2012. The Nationals are asking him to leadoff, but they aren't asking him to adjust his approach in an attempt to better fit that traditional mold.
RYAN ZIMMERMAN -- Now that he's locked up through at least 2019, the Face of the Franchise can focus on putting together a full, dominant season like he produced in '09 and '10. An encouraging sign: The seventh-year third baseman started raking at the plate on the first day of spring training and never let up.
STEVE LOMBARDOZZI -- Though the Nationals believe he'll become an everyday second baseman in the big leagues someday, for now they believe he can be an effective utilityman. The rookie from Howard County will see time at second base, shortstop, third base and possibly even in left field.
CHAD TRACY -- An unlikely candidate to make the Opening Day when camp opened, the veteran corner infielder performed well enough to keep himself in the mix. And when a couple lineup regulars were forced to start the season on the DL, Tracy was ready to step in and help out.
JAYSON WERTH -- HIs first season in D.C. didn't go as planned, but the $126 million right fielder looked more comfortable this spring, both at the plate and in the clubhouse. There will be plenty of pressure on him to perform in year two of a seven-year contract, but it should help that he's got more talent around him now.
ROGER BERNADINA -- A gifted athlete who has flashed moments of glory, he's never been able to put it all together. He'll get another chance this season, though, seeing time in both center and left fields while Rick Ankiel and Michael Morse recover from injuries.
MARK DeROSA -- The acquisition of this 37-year-old jack-of-all-trades was a top priority for manager Davey Johnson, and for good reason. Healthy after a wrist injury hampered him for more than two seasons, he might just be the best bench player the Nationals have ever had and could see time at all four corner positions.
BRETT CARROLL -- An unheralded former Marlins outfielder, he impressed Nationals coaches from the day he walked into camp. Capable of starting in center field against left-handers and even strapping on the catcher's gear in an emergency, he could prove valuable over a full season.
XAVIER NADY -- Unemployed in mid-March, the veteran outfielder signed a minor-league deal with the Nationals, wound up in big-league camp with one week to go and wound up making the roster. And with injuries sidelining others, he should see considerable action early this season.
STEPHEN STRASBURG -- The hype has dissipated, but the dominating arsenal of pitches hasn't. Having fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, the young ace of the staff looks poised to blow away opposing hitters every five days until he reaches his limit of roughly 160 innings.
GIO GONZALEZ -- The Nationals paid a steep price to acquire him (four top prospects) but he looked worth it this spring. The left-hander has a live fastball and a devastating curveball that should play well in the NL. All he needs to do is cut down on his walks a bit.
JORDAN ZIMMERMANN -- Stephen Strasburg draws all the attention, but the Nationals' other Tommy John surgery survivor might just be the best pitcher on the staff this season. He already finished in the top-10 in ERA in the NL last year, and now the reins have been taken off the bulldog right-hander.
EDWIN JACKSON -- The Nationals swooped in late during the offseason to sign this talented, if sometimes erratic, right-hander and gave him a one-year, $11 million contract. He spent the spring tinkering on his mechanics, but he finished strong and will look to find a level of consistency this season.
ROSS DETWILER -- Destined all spring to serve as the Nats' long man and emergency starter, the former first-round pick learned Tuesday he'll actually open the season in the rotation with Chien-Ming Wang on the DL. The organization made a bold move giving him the job; now it's up to him to seize the opportunity.
TYLER CLIPPARD -- Perhaps baseball's most dominant reliever last year, the funky-throwing right-hander earned his first All-Star berth. He's good enough to close, but he's actually more valuable to the Nats as the guy who puts out fires in the seventh and eighth innings.
BRAD LIDGE -- Dumped by a Phillies club that apparently thought he was damaged goods, the 35-year-old right-hander signed with the Nationals for only $1 million, then had a brilliant spring. With Drew Storen on the DL for the moment, he'll get a chance to serve as temporary closer.
HENRY RODRIGUEZ -- The question with this right-hander isn't how hard he's going to throw the ball. It's where the ball's going to land. Fortunately, H-Rod had near-perfect control this spring, making him a potentially devastating arm near the back of the Nats' bullpen.
SEAN BURNETT -- After a ragged first half to the season, the left-hander bounced back strong following the All-Star break. He'll be counted on once to again to record some big outs against some of the NL's toughest left-handed hitters.
TOM GORZELANNY -- Pedestrian as a starter, the left-hander proved quite effective out of the bullpen during the second half of last season. He could be another long man, or he could be used to record some key outs against left-handed sluggers.
RYAN MATTHEUS -- The right-hander faced tough odds to make the bullpen out of spring training, but Drew Storen's elbow injury opened the door. A Tommy John surgery survivor, he can dial his fastball up to 95 mph.
CRAIG STAMMEN -- The final player to make the Opening Day roster, he'll serve as Davey Johnson's right-handed long reliever and potential emergency starter. The 2005 draft pick pitched well last September and again this spring, earning his way onto the club at the last possible moment.
RICK ANKIEL -- Needing a stop-gap in center field until top prospect Bryce Harper is ready, the Nationals were going to turn to the defensively gifted former pitcher, who was working on improving his offensive game this spring. A lingering quad strain, though, kept him out of action for much of March and made a season-opening DL stint necessary.
MICHAEL MORSE -- Fresh off a breakthrough season that earned him a two-year contract, Morse suffered a lat strain early in camp and wasn't able to recover in time to make the Opening Day roster. He could be back in the cleanup spot and in left field within a week, though, at which point he'll hope to pick up where he left off in September.
DREW STOREN -- After ascending to the closer's role last season and saving 43 games in the process, Storen missed most of spring training with elbow inflammation. He'll open the season on the DL but is expected to return by mid-April.
CHIEN-MING WANG -- Just when it looked like the Taiwanese right-hander was all the way back from major shoulder surgery, he suffered a scary-looking hamstring injury in spring training. The Nationals will take their time bringing him back, but they still expect big things from the former 19-game winner.
CHRIS MARRERO -- The Nationals' 2006 first-round pick probably would have made the club as a backup first baseman and right-handed bat off the bench. But he tore his hamstring playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic and won't be ready to return until at least June.
COLE KIMBALL -- A fireballing reliever who made a strong impression early last season, he wound up needing major shoulder surgery. He won't be eligible to come off the DL until June and may need even more time than that to fully heal.