WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Levale Speigner said he was informed on Tuesday that he will not start on Friday night against the Padres. Instead, left-hander Matt Chico will get the start on normal rest.

Chico was originally supposed to pitch on Saturday on six days' rest, but now Washington will have to fill his spot on Saturday. Manager Manny Acta has not ruled out Speigner getting the nod that day, but acknowledged that the Nationals may look for another option.

The Nats have yet to make an announcement, but one pitcher who could start is right-hander Joel Hanrahan, who has given up four runs in 24 1/3 innings for Triple-A Columbus. He was recently activated from the disabled list and pitched three scoreless innings against Pawtucket on Monday.

Speigner was put in the rotation because right-hander Shawn Hill went on the disabled list due to a sore left shoulder and right elbow. But Speigner has struggled mightily, giving up 17 runs in 10 1/3 innings.

"I have to come to work every day, get my work in and do what's best for this team," Speigner said. "The most frustrating thing for me is, when I've started, I haven't given our chance for our team to win."

Why are they winning? The Nationals have won 12 of their last 17 games, and first baseman Dmitri Young said the reason for this nice run is because of shortstop Cristian Guzman.

Although Guzman entered Tuesday hitting .269, Young feels that the shortstop is giving Felipe Lopez more pitches to hit. Lopez have seen his average rise from .233 to .255 in his last 11 games.

Injury report: First baseman Nick Johnson was seen taking groundballs on Tuesday afternoon. The good news was that he didn't have any problems going from side to side, and he even charged for a few grounders. That gives every indication his broken right leg is getting stronger.

"I feel like I'm getting a little stronger. I'm going to keep working at it," Johnson said. "Going from side to side is getting better. I still can't do it how I want to. I just have to keep pushing."

Johnson didn't give any timetable as to when he will return to the diamond.

Right-hander John Patterson, on the disabled list because of a sore right elbow and biceps, had a bullpen session on Tuesday and threw 25 fastballs without any pain. Patterson said he will continue to have bullpen sessions until he is finally 100 percent. Patterson's main goal is to have his arm strength back.

"I'm letting the ball go. I don't know I would call it 100 percent, but it's not far off," Patterson said. "I try not to be too hard on myself at this point. I want it to be better, but we are definitely making some progress."

Right-hander Ryan Wagner, on the disabled list because of right rotator cuff inflammation, said that the shoulder is not getting better and he is looking at other options. Wagner indicated that surgery has not been ruled out.

"I feel about the same. I'm starting to view other options," Wagner said. "It is what it is. You go and you try. If it doesn't respond, you have to think about other options."

The 2007 season was supposed to be a breakout one for Wagner. The prediction was based on the fact that he had a 3.54 ERA in his final 24 games last season.

Wagner said he entered this season feeling comfortable for the first time in his big-league career.

"All the jitters were gone," he said. "I started to really understand how to go at hitters. When something like this comes up, it stinks."

Young said his left lower back and hip are feeling better, and he expects to be in the lineup on Wednesday against the Dodgers.

Stat of the day: Entering Tuesday's action, the Nationals were 19-2 when leading after eight innings.

Did you know? The Nationals are 4-6 when Jesus Flores starts behind the plate.

Coming up: The Nationals play the second game of a three game series against the Dodgers on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Washington left-hander Mike Bacsik will face right-hander Derek Lowe.