WASHINGTON -- With outfielder Michael Morse expected to miss six more weeks of action with a strained right lat (back) muscle, Mark DeRosa and Xavier Nady are expected to see the bulk of the playing time in left field, and both players are ready for the challenge.
Entering Friday's action, DeRosa and Nady were a combined 5-for-32(.156) with an RBI.
"It stinks that our No. 4-hole hitter has to go through this," DeRosa said. "But we are a deep team. I think it's one of the big things [manager] Davey [Johnson] preached this offseason -- getting the bench deep and stronger, be able to give guys days off. Now we are thrust into a position where we are going to have to play well.
"It's about winning. I have to hit better," DeRosa continued. "X has to hit better. It's early, but at the same time, there is a big opportunity here. ... I'm up to the challenge, I had a really good spring. My swing is where it needs to be. I got off to a slow start, but at the same time, one game can change that."
Nady knows what it's like to miss time. For example, he missed all but seven games of the 2009 season because of Tommy John surgery.
"DeRosa and I have been talking a lot, and we have to pick up the slack and contribute," Nady said. "We have to play as a team. Obviously, we are going to miss Morse because of what he is able to do. But we have to pick it up and be productive while we are in there. And I know we are up for it, and it has to start soon."
Both Nady and DeRosa have been everyday players in their career, and both have proven capable of driving in runs.
Ankiel set to make return to DC on Saturday
WASHINGTON -- Following their 2-1 victory over Reds on Friday, the Nationals activated center fielder Rick Ankiel from the 15-day disabled list and designated Brett Carroll. The Nats have 10 days to trade Carroll, reassign him to the Minor Leagues or release him. Carroll was used mainly as a pinch-runner, but was hitless in two at-bats.
Ankiel, who will get most of the playing time in center field, was able to work out with his teammates before Friday's game against Cincinnati without any problems. Ankiel was put on the disabled list in Spring Training because of a strained left quad.
"You are going to see Rick Ankiel tomorrow," manager Davey Johnson said. "He is in great shape. He had a great rehab program. He did awfully well. ... He looks good to go."
The return of Ankiel means that Roger Bernadina will be a reserve. He will come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner and defensive replacement. Bernadina had received most of the playing time in center field, and after going 1-for-4 with a walk Friday, is hitting .143 with an RBI this season.
"As far as baseball experience goes, he is kind of a babe in the woods, but he has a lot of potential," Johnson said about Bernadina. "We haven't seen the best of him yet. I certainly haven't given up on him."
LaRoche off to fast start in 2012
WASHINGTON -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is a notoriously slow starter, but entering Friday's action, LaRoche was 10-for-29 (.345) with a team-leading two home runs and eight RBIs.
What's working for LaRoche? He has fully recovered from his shoulder surgery, which caused him to miss most of last season. But there is still work to be done, LaRoche says.
"To be honest, I'm not exactly where I want to be right now. I'm not complaining by any means. I'm seeing the ball well. I'm still working on some things," LaRoche said. "I have to be a little more selective. I think the more at-bats I get, the more comfortable I get. ... I'm still going outside the zone a little."
LaRoche is still dealing with left foot problems, which he suffered while running the bases during Spring Training. The foot, according to LaRoche, is about 80 percent healed, but it will not cause him to miss games.
Nats to host Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band concert
WASHINGTON -- Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band announced Friday that they will perform at Nationals Park on Sept. 14 as an extension of the 2012 "Wrecking Ball" World Tour. The show, promoted by Live Nation, will be held rain or shine.
Tickets for the concert will go on sale at 10 a.m. ET on Friday, April 27, at tickets.com.
"We are excited to welcome Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band to Nationals Park for what will no doubt be an unforgettable performance," said Andrew Feffer, the Nationals' chief operating officer. "There's nothing more American than baseball and Rock 'n Roll in the nation's capital, and bringing such an iconic show to Nationals Park is just an another example of our commitment to creating the ultimate fan experience."
The concert will be the third show in Nationals Park history, following Elton John and Billy Joel's sold-out show in July 2009 and the sold-out Dave Matthews Band concert featuring the Zac Brown Band in July 2010.
Bruce Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball" (Columbia) was released last month and debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. and 14 other countries. While The Boss is in their ballpark, the Nationals will be trying to make like a wrecking ball in Atlanta, where they'll be playing the Braves on Sept. 14.
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.