JUPITER, Fla. -- If Steve Lombardozzi can offer one thing to the Nationals this season, it's versatility.
The second baseman has already played at shortstop and third base during Spring Training, and he started his second game in left field Tuesday against the Marlins. If Michael Morse, the team's projected starting left fielder, is still out with a strained right lat muscle on Opening Day, Lombardozzi gives manager Davey Johnson another option at the position.
"There's no secret I really like watching Lombardozzi play," Johnson said. "But in reality, No. 1, I'm looking for who can help us if Morse is not here. I do see Lombardozzi being a definite candidate to make this ballclub. If Morse is here, that limits options of where I can get him some playing time."
Lombardozzi has put together an impressive spring, as he entered Tuesday's game hitting .306 with a home run and two RBIs. In order to get his bat in the lineup once the regular season begins, Johnson wants to make sure he can play the switch-hitter at different positions.
However, if there isn't an opportunity to give Lombardozzi consistent playing time, Johnson would rather allow him to continue to grow in the Minors.
"I'm just covering all bases, that's what you do. You look at all options," Johnson said. "In reality, what you try to end up doing is No. 1, what's best for the player, and No. 2, what's best for the organization. So, I'm kind of giving him a crash course in being a utility player, and I'm not just limiting it to second and short."
When asked if he was putting too much on the 23-year-old's plate, Johnson quickly defended the way he has handled Lombardozzi during Spring Training.
"He's fine," Johnson said. "He has done an admirable job wherever I've put him. .. It's one thing if he thought I was trying to make him into a utility player; I'm not. I'm giving him experience in different spots just in case a need comes up on the team."