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KC@CWS: Ventura discusses Floyd's solid start

This is the first year that Major League Baseball has spread Interleague Play across the entire season, and that makes the three-game series between the White Sox and Nationals something of a new experience for both clubs.

Washington took Tuesday's opener, 8-7, with Chicago's Gavin Floyd set to face Jordan Zimmermann on Wednesday night at Nationals Park.

For the White Sox, the early Interleague matchup in a National League park meant going without their usual cleanup hitter, designated hitter Adam Dunn, on Tuesday.

"It's weird in that way, but fortunately, Spring Training is so long it seems normal," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.

"It already feels like it's June, anyway. He needed a day off."

Nationals manager Davey Johnson called the early Interleague games "strange" but is glad to have the home-field advantage. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman likes the idea of having Interleague Play spread out instead of bunched together at certain points in the schedule.

Still, as shortstop Ian Desmond put it: "It doesn't matter. It's still baseball."

Despite the Interleague matchup, neither of Wednesday's starters will be in completely uncharted waters. Floyd -- from nearby Annapolis, Md. -- has started twice vs. Washington and once at Nationals Park, back in 2010. Zimmermann threw seven shutout innings against the White Sox in Chicago in '11.

Both pitchers also are coming off solid season debuts last Thursday. Floyd took a loss to the Royals but held them to two earned runs in six innings, and Zimmermann limited the Marlins to one run over six innings to pick up his first win.

White Sox: Dunn back in old stomping grounds
This series brings Dunn back to the place he called home from 2009 to 2010 before he signed with the White Sox as a free agent. He slugged .533 and contributed 76 home runs and 208 RBIs in a Nationals uniform.

Dunn wasn't in Tuesday's lineup against lefty Gio Gonzalez but likely will get a start in left field on Thursday or Friday, when Washington starts right-handers. He made five starts there last season.

• Second baseman Gordon Beckham left Tuesday's game in the third inning with nerve irritation in his left wrist. He sustained the injury in the second, when he took an awkward swing while striking out against Gonzalez. He was replaced by Angel Sanchez and is considered day to day.

Nationals: LaRoche returns to lineup with bang
Adam LaRoche started at first base on Tuesday after missing Washington's previous two games with tightness in his back. The 33-year-old received treatment during Monday's off-day and broke a season-opening skid with a two-run homer in the sixth inning, followed by a solo shot in the eighth.

LaRoche was one of six Nationals starters who began Tuesday batting .250 or below.

"I think a lot of guys are pressing a little bit," Johnson said. "We had a bunch of off-days. [LaRoche will] get going. I'm not too worried about him."

• Desmond has been impressed thus far with center fielder and leadoff hitter Denard Span, acquired from the Twins this winter. Desmond joked that Span, who sports a .484 on-base percentage, has walked more this season than Desmond has in his career.

"He's an unbelievable guy at the top of the lineup, seeing 10 pitches an at-bat, giving our two-three-four guys an opportunity to drive in runs every single time they come to the plate," Desmond said. "I just want to watch him play more. I think he's just scratching the surface."

Worth noting
• Dunn's 39 home runs at Nationals Park are more than he's hit any other stadium other than Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. Dunn smacked 19 homers there in 2009 and 20 the next year.

• Span has by far the most experience against Floyd of any Nationals player, thanks to his time in Minnesota. He has owned the matchup, going 17-for-35 with four doubles and four RBIs.

• White Sox third baseman Jeff Keppinger and right fielder Alex Rios hit back-to-back singles in the first inning on Tuesday, a significant accomplishment for both. Keppinger's hit snapped an 0-for-19 skid, and Rios extended his hitting streak to 13, dating back to last season. Rios added a homer in the ninth inning, giving him roundtrippers in four straight contests.

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