Davey has good idea of Nats' lineup composition

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Davey Johnson has known for weeks -- no, months -- the composition of the Nationals' 2013 roster. It's his long-standing theory that Spring Training is a time for preparation. The exhibition season is not a proving ground for young players. As impressive as Anthony Rendon has been thus far -- and he hit another home run Wednesday -- Johnson responds with a matter of fact "no" when Rendon's chance of being on the Opening Day roster was brought up.

The same level of certainty exists with Johnson's plans for the Nationals' batting order. He likes to say "It's a work in progress," though the progress may have ended. Johnson knows what he likes and what he wants. He might fiddle here and there as April 1 appears on the horizon. But for now, it seems likely that Jayson Werth will bat second behind Denard Span and in front of Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, then Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and the catcher of the day.

"It depends on how we come out of spring, how guys are swinging," Johnson said. "If everybody's swinging good, that's got a good chance."

How good a chance? "You saw the lineup the other day. If you didn't get any [insight] into what I was thinking, then you'll never know."

The manager's decisions are based on skills -- speed and power, of course, but also ability to reach base and to disrupt the opposing manager's planned use of his bullpen.

Zimmerman has batted third almost exclusively in his last two seasons after batting fourth in 41 games 2010.

The change has more to do with Harper than with Zimmerman. Part of the manager's take on Harper's readiness to bat third was, "He's a tough out, he doesn't swing at bad pitches and he uses the whole field. ... He can flat out hit."

And to answer any other inquiry, Johnson said emphatically "He will be on my team, ya know."

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.