Friday, April 13, 2012

Ankiel cleared to return tomorrow

US Presswire photo
Rick Ankiel will come off the 15-day DL in time for tomorrow's game.
The Nationals plan to activate Rick Ankiel off the 15-day disabled list before tomorrow afternoon's game against the Reds and insert the veteran center fielder right back into their starting lineup.

"You're going to see him tomorrow," manager Davey Johnson said. "He's in great shape. ... He looks good to go."

After dealing with a lingering quadriceps strain during spring training, Ankiel opened the season on the DL but immediately began a minor-league rehab assignment on Opening Day. In eight total games with low-Class A Hagerstown, Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse, he went 8-for-20 with three homers and seven RBI.

Signed in February to a minor-league contract, Ankiel wasn't added to the 40-man roster until March 30. Thus the Nationals weren't able to backdate his DL move until that day, making him ineligible to return until tomorrow.

The 32-year-old worked out at Nationals Park this afternoon and passed whatever tests team officials needed him to pass in order to be cleared to come off the DL.

Johnson won't waste any time easing Ankiel into the lineup, planning to start him in center field tomorrow and keep him there almost every day (aside from an occasional rest against left-handed opposing pitchers). The Nationals were encouraged by what they saw from the defensively stellar Ankiel at the plate this spring: a more relaxed approach and less of a propensity to try to pull every pitch to right field.

"I like what I saw in the spring in the limited time I got to see him," Johnson said. "He's using the whole field. He's much more in a relaxed hitting position. ... I'm expecting an improved Rick Ankiel this year, and I'll use him just like I used him last year. Pretty much he was my center fielder."

Ankiel's return will require the Nationals to remove someone from their roster before tomorrow's game. The most likely candidates appear to be outfielder Brett Carroll (who has received only one at-bat through the season's first seven games) or infielder Steve Lombardozzi (who started one game at second base but otherwise has seen limited action in left field).


Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

So, the X-man might not be the next ex-Nat. Carroll doesn't have an opt-out, IIRC, does he?

David said...

Mark, I'm sure I'm not the only one who is wondering whether Brown's hot start in AAA has turned heads with Rizzo & Nats brass. Any word on who who is "Rizzo's guy" in AAA that is ready to come up? A lot of people assume he meant Harper. But Moore and Brown have more minor league experience and both have started the season hot. Is Brown going to see the majors this year?

SFNats said...

Unless they want Lombo to play every day in AAA, it looks like Carroll is out.

jd said...

If Lombo gets sent down who is the backup middle infielder? I sure dont want to see DeRosa at short.

I think it must be Carroll unless we are prepared to DFA Bernie.

natsfan1a said...

So I guess I'll get to see The Arm in action tomorrow, my first in-person game this year.

Meridian said...

We've seen enough of Roger Bernadina, and this team needs to score more runs because we know that over time, late inning theatrics by low-scoring teams even out (remember 2005?). I'm for bringing up Brown or Moore and seeing what they can do, especially since after Morse recovers and Harper is brought up, there really isn't going to be much room for guys like that to get much playing time. Assuming, of course, that Werth does not become a high-priced bench guy.

erocks33 said...

jd said...
If Lombo gets sent down who is the backup middle infielder? I sure dont want to see DeRosa at short.

Espinosa would be the backup SS if Lombo goes down to AAA.

Anonymous said...

If Lombo gets sent down who is the backup middle infielder? I sure dont want to see DeRosa at short.

Espinosa can play shortstop (he may actually be better at it than Desmond .. .remember? sheesh ) DeRosa can play the other positions. Lombardozzi gets to play everyday getting plenty of at bats in Syracuse.

Meanwhile, doubtless, they will work on making a trade involving Lannan and Bernadina. Albeit it looks to me like Flores might end up being the most coveted position player ... if not Ramos.

Anonymous said...

i live in va beach, have cox cable and am watching the nats,i cant hear anything on masn 2,is this happening to anyone else?

Anonymous said...

masn2, comcast cable in Bethesda, is unwatchable. The signal is so week that I am lucky to hold the picture for 2 to 3 minutes.

I just watch the box score.

MASN is a travesty.

Arlington BigFish said...

MASN2 is indeed a travesty on FIOS -- at least from an audio standpoint. The engineers seem to have the volume cranked down several notches lower than every other channel. I've called MASN several times on this, & have been met with universal "Wha?"

Kirbs said...

Bernie had his chance to keep his spot. Bring on Rick!

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