VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Davey Johnson announced that reliever Henry Rodriguez is experiencing right elbow soreness and would not play against the Braves on Sunday.
Johnson hopes Rodriguez can throw a bullpen session by Tuesday and then pitch in a game soon thereafter. Rodriguez had elbow problems dating back to last year, and had bone spurs removed from the elbow in August.
When he arrived to Spring Training, Rodriguez had right forearm tightness and didn't play in a game until March 8.
If Rodriguez is not ready by Opening Day, it would not come as a surprise if J.C. Romero made the Opening Day roster. Romero was recently signed to a Minor League contract and invited to big league camp.
The Nationals are in need of a second left-hander in the bullpen, but general manager Mike Rizzo already said they are willing to go with a predominantly right-handed bullpen.
Sore thumb doesn't hold Harper back vs. Braves
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said his right thumb is still sore, but he was in the starting lineup against the Braves on Sunday afternoon. In fact, he took two sets of batting practice on Sunday without any problems.
Harper hurt the thumb on Friday, when he singled to right field in the fourth inning against Detroit left-hander Drew Smyly. The thumb started to swell, and manager Davey Johnson took him out of the game.
"I'm good to go [on Sunday]," Harper said.
During batting practice, Harper was wearing a rubber thumb guard to prevent him from feeling a sting in case he was jammed by a pitch. But during the game, Harper didn't wear the rubber guard and went 3-for-3 with a run scored.
"I can't wear it. I'll wear it during BP and in the on-deck circle. But going to the plate, I don't like the feeling, so I'm not going to use it," Harper said. "… I really didn't feel it. It's a case of squaring a ball up and not getting jammed. If you don't get jammed, you are not going to feel it."
Harper has been a hot hitter this spring, going 25-for-58 (.431) with three home runs and 12 RBIs. But Harper was humble when talking about his success during the Grapefruit League season.
"It's Spring Training," Harper said. "Everybody is going to get better toward the whole season. It's just trying to have good ABs every single day, and really trying to square things up."
Young likely to opt out of contract
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Chris Young has an opt-out clause in his contract that goes into effect on Sunday, but he will pitch against the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla., on Monday night. After that, it's his choice whether or not to stay.
While Young says there isn't any news to report, chances are less than 50 percent that he will stay with Washington unless someone in the rotation gets hurt. Once he becomes a free agent, teams like the Rangers, Mets, Yankees or Padres could use his services.
"There are opportunities. I'm just trying to decide what is the best fit in a lot of different ways," Young said. "I'm here to get myself ready for April 1 or whenever the season starts. That's the plan."
Young made it known that he has enjoyed his brief time with the Nationals. In three games, he has allowed three runs in 12 innings.
"They have been unbelievable," Young said about the Nationals. "This is a first-class organization from top to bottom. There is not a bad thing I can say about this place. They have done it right the whole time."
General manager Mike Rizzo already hinted that Young will likely be released from his contract.
"[Young] has an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues," Rizzo said on Friday. "We are certainly not going to keep him in the Minor Leagues if he has a chance at a big league job. That's only right. That's how we get these players to come with us under these conditions, because they know we are going to do right by them and treat them well."
Rosenbaum back with the Nats
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have accepted left-hander Daniel Rosenbaum back from the Rockies, per Rule 5 guidelines, the team announced on Twitter on Sunday. He will report to Minor League camp.
Rosenbaum was taken by Colorado in the Rule 5 Draft last December, and allowed four runs in eight innings without striking out a batter during Spring Training.
Two years ago, Rosenbaum was one of the Nationals' top pitching prospects, going a combined 9-6 with a 2.52 ERA for Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. He will likely start the 2013 season for Harrisburg.
Zimmermann solid against Braves
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had another solid outing in a 9-3 victory over the Braves in a seven-inning, rain-shortened game at Space Coast Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Zimmermann lasted six innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits, while striking out four and walking three. The game was so windy that the right-hander wasn't able to throw his curveball and slider. At game time, the wind was blowing at 20 miles per hour -- and Zimmermann felt like he was on a ship in rough waters.
"I felt good. The fastball was good, the changeup was good today," Zimmermann said. "Obviously, throwing the curveball and slider in this wind is not good -- not the ideal conditions for that. So I stuck with the fastball and changeup, mostly.
"I left the fastball down in the zone. I got a lot of ground balls. The Braves didn't hit many hard hit balls, which is definitely good."
Zimmermann's last game of the spring will be Friday against the Yankees at Nationals Park. He is ready for the season to start.
"The fastball is where I wanted it, and the changeup has come a long way," said Zimmermann. "I feel I can throw it at any time. If I need to work on anything, it would be the changeup a little bit more."
Garcia goes on DL; Rivero outrighted to Syracuse
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals placed right-hander Christian Garcia on the 15-day disabled List, retroactive to March 22, with a right forearm tendon injury. The club also outrighted infielder Carlos Rivero to Triple-A Syracuse. The Nationals currently have 31 players in their big league camp.
Rivero, who will remain in Major League Spring Training, was out of options. He was placed on waivers, but there were no takers. Rivero is 8-for-47 (.170) with nine RBIs this spring.
Garcia didn't pitch in a Grapefruit League game, after feeling pain in his forearm during the team's first workout in February. He felt the cold weather played a role in his discomfort. There is no timetable as to when Garcia will begin throwing again. He has to rest his arm for at least another week.
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.