Rodriguez remains in Nats' bullpen plans

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson said before Saturday's game that he has yet to find a "good rotation in the bullpen."

"That usually takes a couple weeks going into the season, and it's a combination of what the starters give you and the workload each guy has coming out of the 'pen," Johnson said.

The bullpen's workload has been somewhat unbalanced in the early going. Closer Rafael Soriano had pitched six times entering play Saturday, including three straight appearances that left him unavailable on Friday. Tyler Clippard also had six appearances and rested Saturday after a rough 35-pitch outing on Friday.

On the other hand, left-handed long man Zach Duke had appeared only once, on April 5, before working a scoreless seventh Saturday. Johnson does not want to start using Duke, his only southpaw reliever, as a situational lefty.

"I haven't got a good system going," Johnson said. "It's a work in progress."

Meanwhile, fireballing right-hander Henry Rodriguez pitched Saturday for the first time in almost a week, walking two and striking out one in a scoreless eighth. 

Johnson said prior to Saturday's outing that Rodriguez is "a little behind" some of the other relievers, coming off surgery to clean up a bone spur from his elbow, as well as forearm tightness that limited him early this spring.

What did the manager think of Saturday's outing?

"It's going to kind of be a work in progress," Johnson said. "From no winter ball to that surgery, but he threw the ball good [Saturday]."

Andrew Simon is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.