PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Before Wednesday's game against the Mets, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he had a surprise, and that was putting Xavier Nady in the starting lineup. Nady hit seventh, played first base and went 1-for-3 in a 3-2 victory over the Mets.
Nady was placed in the lineup because Mark DeRosa had a cramp in his calf on Tuesday against the Cardinals. Nady is also helped by the fact that outfielder Michael Morse and first baseman Adam LaRoche have been out most of the spring because of injuries.
"Obviously, it's unfortunate. I've been on the other side of the spectrum -- being hurt and not knowing a lot of uncertainties, timetables," Nady said. "My goal is just to be ready whenever the situation calls for me. We'll go from there -- whether it's first, outfield. A lot of things could happen. I'll stay ready and contribute when my name is called."
The news of Nady being in big league camp comes several days after general manager Mike Rizzo said that Nady would not play in a Major League exhibition game. Nady signed with the club two weeks ago.
Rizzo said Nady was expected to start the season with Triple-A Syracuse, but it looks like Nady will get a chance to make the Opening Day roster. Nady is competing against Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, Jason Michaels and Brett Carroll for outfield spots on the bench.
"I don't know if he is ready, but he came into camp in good shape," Johnson said. "He plays outfield and first. Last I checked, I had some guys on injured reserved there. So why not look at him? This is the time that you look at every conceivable option that you can dream of. I'm going to look at it, whether it's an immediate solution or down-the-road solutions. That's my job."
Nady can play the corner outfield positions and first and third base. When healthy, Nady can be a productive hitter. His last productive season was in 2008, when he hit a combined .305 with 25 home runs and 97 RBIs.
In two out of the next three years, Nady had serious injuries. In 2009, he had Tommy John surgery, and he fractured his left hand last season after getting hit by a pitch.
"It has been a grind to get healthy. I'm just thankful [that I am healthy], and I'll just go from there," Nady said.
If he doesn't make the team out of Spring Training, Nady said he will accept the assignment to Syracuse.
"Obviously, I was sitting at home," Nady said. "You have to make a decision. The longer I was sitting there, I understood what was going to happen. Finally being healthy and being able to go out and do stuff. It's nice to be able to go out there and play again without things bothering me. That's the most important part."
Morse to resume activity; Storen likely to DL
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Michael Morse had a sonogram on Wednesday to see if his right lat (back) muscle has improved.
According to manager Davey Johnson, the sonogram showed that the muscle has healed, and Morse will start doing baseball activities starting Thursday.
"So it looks like we are not having a baby," manager Davey Johnson joked.
"It looked great," Johnson continued. "That was the best news I had had. They came to me right at the end of batting practice. The sonogram showed that the tear has flattened out and healed."
Asked if Morse would start the season on the Opening Day roster, Johnson said, "I'm not going to be that optimistic. I was more concerned because he threw 60 to 90 feet. I was more concerned about the results in the sonogram."
Johnson also said that reliever Drew Storen will more than likely start the season on the 15-day disabled list, and the skipper is hoping that his closer will return to action in mid-April.
Storen had an MRI on his right elbow recently, and it revealed no structural damage. However, Storen has not pitched since March 7 because of normal soreness in his elbow and because of a bout of strep throat.
"Maybe I'm being overly hopeful, but I like to be positive. Positive things are going to happen. ... I'm going to make sure everything he does, every mound session, comes out OK," Johnson said about Storen.
With Storen likely out of the picture to start the season, Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge will split the closer duties.
Adam LaRoche ran the bases on the Minor League field on Wednesday and didn't have any problems with his left foot. Johnson said LaRoche has been cleared to play, but the skipper may give LaRoche the day off and let him start Friday against the Marlins.
If LaRoche plays on Thursday against the Braves, he will most likely gets two at-bats.
Bernadina to miss two days for father's funeral
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Manager Davey Johnson said Wednesday that outfielder Roger Bernadina will not be with the Nationals for two days starting Thursday, as he is going to Willemstad, Curacao, to attend his father's funeral.
Bernadina is expected to return to the team on Saturday. He informed Johnson of his father's death three days ago.
Before he went home, Bernadina was able to get some Minor League at-bats on Wednesday. Bernadina, known as "The Shark," is having a solid Spring Training, going 14-for-47 [.298] with two home runs and eight RBIs.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.