WASHINGTON -- After going with the same lineup for much of the season, Nationals manager Davey Johnson made a few changes for Wednesday's game against the Cardinals.
Johnson benched first baseman Adam LaRoche in favor of Tyler Moore, a move that the Nationals' skipper hopes will help jump-start his slumping first baseman. Johnson also gave catcher Kurt Suzuki a day off because the team was playing a day game after a night game. Jhonatan Solano got the start behind the plate.
"You got to get something out of 25 guys, not just a few guys," Johnson said. "I will go to other guys more, just to show the guys on the field it's [not] all on them. It's a long haul, and you've got to have patience. Sometimes that's the hardest thing for a manager to have, patience."
Following his team's 4-2 loss, Johnson announced that infielder Steve Lombardozzi will start at third base against the Reds on Thursday.
The Nationals are looking for someone who can spark the offense at the top of the lineup. Lombardozzi will most likely hit second, which means Anthony Rendon will sit on the bench and Jayson Werth will move down in the order and hit fifth. During the three-game series against the Cardinals, the Nationals scored three runs on 17 hits. Washington is now on a six-game losing streak at home.
"I'm going to have to juggle it up and do a few things [Thursday]. Change the mindset," Johnson said. "I'm going to get Lombo in the lineup, get him hitting in the top of the order. Move Werth around. He said some things to me after the ballgame. So just shake some things up a little bit. Little different roles."
Lombardozzi has been productive coming off the bench this season, going 10-for-29 (.345) with three RBIs. When second baseman Danny Espinosa was out of the lineup because of a hand injury last week, Lombardozzi went 7-for-21 (.333) with three RBIs.
"Lombo is a great player. He has a little bit of stability. He is not a guy that goes out of his comfort zone," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "He is a very disciplined player. His routine as far as at-bat to at-bat and defensively, he is that sound [player] that we need."
Werth will probably hit fifth in the lineup and he agreed with Johnson about putting Lombardozzi near the top of the order.
"He could help jump-start the offense. That's fine," Werth said. "I don't care where I hit. We need to do something to switch it up and get the offense going. We are not manufacturing runs, not getting timely hits. Like I said, things are not going our way. Hopefully, that will help."
Rendon has struggled since he was promoted to the big leagues on Sunday. After four games, he is 2-for-15 with an RBI. Rendon replaced Ryan Zimmerman, who is on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury.
"Zimmerman is a big part of our lineup. He is right there in the middle. He could hit three or four either way," Werth said. "That is a guy you are going to miss, no matter what. Even without him, our lineup is pretty tough without him. We have to get by without him for now. It doesn't seem like he's too bad, so he'll be back soon. In the meantime, guys are going to have to step up."
Espinosa's right wrist remains sore
WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa missed four games last week with a bone bruise in his right wrist, and on Wednesday, he said the wrist is still sore.
"It's sore, it's going to be," he said. "Roger [Bernadina] got hit in the wrist just like that when he was playing in the World Baseball Classic, and he said it took a couple weeks to completely go away. So that's kind of what I'm expecting, a couple weeks. They said it's a bone bruise -- it's going to be sensitive. It will go away soon."
Espinosa entered Wednesday with only two hits in four games since returning from the injury, but said the wrist is not affecting his performance at the plate. He also said the previously torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder "feels great."
Espinosa had the second-highest batting average on the team in Spring Training (.333) and finished with five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs. But after 16 regular-season games, he was hitting .167 with an equal number of hits and strikeouts (nine).
"Danny had a great spring, but he's a deep thinker, too," said manager Davey Johnson. "Sometimes he gets in his own way. If there was a secret formula to get guys to relax and do the things they're capable of doing, everybody would bottle it. There's just times when he looks like he's getting really focused, and then I see times where he's just thinking too much."
"For me, I feel like I've had good at-bats, I feel like I am squaring up balls," Espinosa said. "What can I do? Once the ball leaves my bat, there's nothing I can do. I can't direct the ball when it leaves the bat. As long as I stick with what I'm doing and continue to try to make good contact and not try to do too much, I think I'm going to be fine."
Bernadina looking for first hit of season
WASHINGTON -- Nationals reserve outfielder Roger Bernadina entered Wednesday hitless in 17 plate appearances this season, and manager Davey Johnson said his unorthodox spring might explain the slump.
Bernadina played for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic last month, going 3-for-22 with a double, a walk and three strikeouts. He played in just nine Spring Training games, collecting three hits -- one of them a home run -- in 12 at-bats.
Johnson said the scarcity of at-bats has been preventing Bernadina from catching his stride.
"He's just not quite there," Johnson said. "Not having a lot of playing time, not getting a lot of ABs in spring could affect him. But his approach last year was so good, his performance was so good, that we know it's going to take a little time. He got a couple starts in Houston when some guys were down, and usually that jump-starts him. It didn't quite get [him] going."
• Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos will start a rehab assignment on Friday, Johnson said. Ramos likely will join the Class A Potomac Nationals as he continues to recover from a left hamstring injury that landed him on the DL earlier this month.
• Johnson said he still is confident in reliever Henry Rodriguez, despite the fact that his fastball velocity has been slightly lower than last season's.
"I think he's getting there," Johnson said. "He's starting to feel stronger and more comfortable and he doesn't have to really pump up to throw it high-90s."
• Through their first 20 games, the Nationals had more strikeouts (156) than hits (153) and were batting a combined .236.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.