That sound you just heard was the sound of a truck backing up - hence this article will focus on back-ups!
Judging by the projected lineups out there compared with the spots left for bench players, I figure that there is only room for about 5 bench players, one of which will be a backup catcher. Let's look at my predictions based on the early Spring Training results.
Catcher - Jesus Flores
This one is pretty much a given. At one point Jesus Flores was looked at by the organization as the future catcher, but that was before a foul ball broke his shoulder. Now he is trying to build on a solid Venezuelan Winter League performance by putting up solid numbers as a backup in hopes to get traded to a place he can be a starter - he first has to prove his health.
Util - Mark DeRosa
Mark DeRosa is only three years removed from a 4.3 WAR in 2008. Remember that. He has been dogged the past few years by a wrist injury that has sapped his power. However, based on his early spring results (once again, EARLY), DeRosa is 4 for 6 with a HR, his first in a very long time. If he can regain his power stroke (23 HR in 2009), he will be a versatile option at several infield and outfield positions.
Middle-Infield - Stephen Lombardozzi
Lombardozzi is one of the only available players in Spring Training that has the ability to play the middle infield - DeRosa just doesn't have the range. Though he is a young gun, Davey Johnson likes him and has said that he will get the playing time he needs to continue his development. I don't necessarily agree with Lombo making the Opening Day roster, but I think it will happen.
OF - Roger Bernadina
We have seen good Bernie and bad Bernie. But in all honesty, the reason that Roger Bernadina will make the team solely on the fact that he is Left Handed. And starting the 2012 Season, the Nationals only have 2 left handed bats on the roster (LaRoche and Ankiel). Another thing that will set him apart from the other back-up options is his speed. When composing a bench it's wise to have someone in there that has some serious wheels and if Bernie can put some brains behind his wheels he should be able to elevate his game to the next level.
OF - Jason Michaels
He is simply going to bridge the gap to Harper. As opposed to Brett Carroll, Michaels has a few more years under his belt and should provide a bit more leadership to the Nationals young core. His .500 batting average so far in Spring Training sure doesn't hurt his case either.
So, there you have it. My (not-so) expert guesses as to which five players will compose the Opening Day bench.
What are your thoughts? Like my list? Hate it?! COMMENT AWAY!