Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 8/17/12

With the expected return of shortstop Ian Desmond on Friday for the series opener against the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals will have their complete starting nine intact for one of the rare times this season.

Desmond has been on the disabled list since July 22 with a left oblique strain but has taken part in early batting practice and full workouts this week in anticipation of his return to full-time duty.

So with Desmond's return, the outfield will consist of Michael Morse, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.

The infield features Ryan Zimmerman, Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Adam LaRoche.

Kurt Suzuki will be the catcher.

This is the lineup that manager Davey Johnson had hoped to have ready for the stretch drive. Now the Nationals can see what they can do when they have all their pieces healthy.

While Desmond has been out, Espinosa and second baseman Steve Lombardozzi have developed a great chemistry on defense. They also have hit. The duo combined for 34 hits on the recent 10-game road trip.

"They have really been outstanding," Johnson said. "I can't say it enough. They are professional. They play great defense. Their offense has been great, and it has even picked up since Desmond has been out."

The Nationals went 8-2 against the Astros, Diamondbacks and Giants. They have won 10 of their last 12 games.

Now with Desmond returning, where does that leave Lombardozzi? Johnson said Lombardozzi can play other positions on defense and will platoon from the leadoff spot.

"I will find him spots," Johnson said. "He has been great in the outfield. He is great leading off. I am going to lead off Werth. I can rest Lombardozzi when I lead off Werth. I can play him some at third, some at second, just expand the role."

Johnson said he has seen a difference in Lombardozzi the last few weeks because he is getting five at-bats every day.

"I think he is more relaxed in the infield," Johnson said. "He feels like a more complete player at his position. He has been outstanding. He has had a great year, unbelievable year."

Johnson expects to have Werth lead off at times so he can pack the lineup with heavy hitters and find a place for Desmond, who was off to his best start as a pro before the injury.

One other way to get Lombardozzi in the lineup is to have him share playing time in center with Harper, who is hitting just .094 (3 for 32) in his last nine games. Lombardozzi, a switch hitter, is batting .294 left-handed and .238 right-handed.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Report: Luke Walton will not consider coaching offers until offseason

Budweiser: Peyton Manning not paid for Super Bowl beer plug

Archie Manning: 'I think Peyton's done in Denver'

Donald Trump: I told Tom Brady not to endorse me for President


Marshawn Lynch: Complicated and talented NFL anti-hero

Hue Jackson lets Manziel and ex know they aren’t alone

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

Tyronn Lue faces backlash for Cavs record since Blatt’s firing

Report: LeSean McCoy assaulted off duty Philly police officers

John Elway was right, the Broncos didn’t need a Plan B

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

Top defensive performances in Super Bowl history

FBI questions Jeremy Shockey about drug and gambling ring

Coldplay drummer thought Johnny Football was real name

Ranking every game from 2015 NFL Playoffs

PHOTO: Panthers LB shows gruesome arm injury after SB

Patriots, Panthers early Super Bowl 51 favorites

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker