WASHINGTON -- Rookie second baseman Anthony Rendon had batted second in his past 15 games, but with Bryce Harper returning from the disabled list for Monday's series opener against the Brewers, manager Davey Johnson reshuffled the lineup.
For the first time since April 17, Johnson was able to fill out a lineup card that included Harper, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. He put them in the same order he had early in the season, with Werth second behind Denard Span, followed by Harper and Zimmerman.
That dropped Rendon to seventh, after Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond, despite the fact that he is hitting .330 with a .358 on-base percentage since returning from the Minor Leagues on June 5.
"Rendon did a heck of a job," Johnson said. "His on-base percentage, his batting average, his approach was great. But the problem is, Werth has got a little more pop. He has a history of being able to get on base, that's his M.O. -- getting on base, taking pitches."
Werth brought a .333 OBP into Monday's game but has a .361 career mark, including .387 last year.
Johnson also likes the way the top of the lineup sets up, with Werth and Zimmerman splitting three left-handed hitters.
"It's all about matchups late in the ballgame that you want to create, and [Werth] is more of a threat at this point than Rendon is," Johnson said. "But Rendon did the job for what I want in the two-hole -- get on base. If there's a guy on second, he can shoot the ball over to right field and get him over and get him in. It's not a slap at Rendon at all, but the other guy's got a proven track record. He was one of the reasons we were so successful last year, I led him off and hit Harper behind him. They're used to having that relationship, too. I pretty much thought I would go back there."
Rendon also has run into the first mini-slump since his recall. He is 1-for-17 over his last four games after batting .392 over his first 18 back with Washington.
Detwiler, Ramos making progress
WASHINGTON -- Pitcher Ross Detwiler and catcher Wilson Ramos both took steps forward in their respective recovery processes on Monday.
Manager Davey Johnson said that Detwiler "threw the ball well" during a bullpen session before Monday night's game at Nationals Park and remains on track to start on Wednesday against the Brewers. Detwiler's back stiffened during his outing against the Mets on Friday, but it doesn't appear he will miss any time.
Johnson said that pitching coach Steve McCatty and general manager Mike Rizzo were "raving" about Detwiler's session but that the team wants to make sure Detwiler doesn't suffer any setbacks overnight. Should that happen, right-hander Ross Ohlendorf would start in his place.
Ramos, who began his rehab on Friday and Saturday, catching for the Nationals' Gulf Coast League affiliate, caught seven innings and went 0-for-4 in a rehab appearance for Class A Advanced Potomac on Monday night. If no problems surface, the next step would be for him to catch nine innings. He also could appear in a game at designated hitter in order to get extra at-bats.
Ramos has been on the disabled list since May 16 with a strained left hamstring. He is scheduled to return on Saturday but could make it back as soon as Thursday.
Suzuki ready to accept less playing time
WASHINGTON -- Though he began the season splitting time behind the plate with Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki has spent most of the year as an everyday player, as Ramos has made two trips to the disabled list. But with Ramos expected to return within the week, Suzuki's playing time figures to drop dramatically.
"You just have to deal with it," Suzuki said. "You can't really think about it. You just have to be ready to play. I don't put too much stock in that. It's something that's out of my control. I have to control going out there and playing every time I get the call."
Monday was Suzuki's 34th start in 42 games during Ramos' latest DL stint, with Jhonatan Solano taking the others. When Ramos has been healthy, manager Davey Johnson has employed close to a 50-50 split.
Suzuki entered Monday hitting .217/.262/.283 since Ramos' most recent injury. He is 5-for-9 in his last two games, including his first home run since April 17.
"I feel the last, probably, three weeks, I've been feeling like how I felt [the last two days]," Suzuki said. "I'm just getting hits now. Of course, if you look at the stats, it looks like I'm getting back. But I feel no different than I felt a couple of weeks ago."
• The Nationals joined with the other Major League teams playing at home on Monday by observing a moment of silence in honor of the 19 firefighters who died while battling a wildfire in Arizona on Sunday. The moment came as part of the ceremonies before the team's game against the Brewers, just before the national anthem.
All but one of the fallen firefighters came from the elite Prescott (Ariz.) Granite Mountain Hotshots. They were battling a huge blaze near the town of Yarnell, 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, when the accident occurred.
• The Nationals optioned right-handed reliever Erik Davis to Triple-A Syracuse on Monday to clear roster space for Bryce Harper. Davis had been recalled from Syracuse on Saturday for his second stint with Washington this season but didn't make an appearance. He has a 6.23 ERA in five big league relief outings.
• Manager Davey Johnson said that right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus, on the disabled list since May 22 with a broken right hand, is "throwing pretty good," but that he hasn't progressed from flat ground to a mound.
Johnson also joked about the beard Mattheus has been growing.
"I hope we get him out here before he changes into Rip Van Winkle or something," Johnson quipped. "I can't hardly recognize him. That thing's growing out … It's like he's trying to get it past [Jayson] Werth."
• Johnson said that right-hander Dan Haren will throw a simulated game on Wednesday as he makes his way back from the DL.
• The Nationals on Monday granted outfielder Micah Owings his outright release from Triple-A Syracuse, at Owings' request. Owings, who pitched six seasons in the Majors, signed a Minor League deal with Washington in February and switched positions. He was hitting .265 with eight home runs and 71 strikeouts in 57 games for Syracuse.