Jay sits as Robinson gets start against lefty

WASHINGTON -- The opportunity to find a day for center fielder Jon Jay to work on his swing outside of a game situation presented itself on Tuesday when the Nationals started left-hander Ross Detwiler -- and manager Mike Matheny took it.

As he did when the Cardinals last faced a lefty starter on Saturday, Matheny chose to start right-handed-hitting Shane Robinson over Jay in center field. The move is partially driven by Matheny's desire to keep Robinson -- who was the team's hottest hitter in Spring Training -- from getting stale on the bench. But it's also just as much dictated by the need to help Jay get right.

"There's no question right now that he's searching for a few things on the offensive side," Matheny said of Jay. "We'll give him a little time to do that where he's not having to still produce. "

Could that portend the adoption of a strict platoon situation, one in which Jay will start against right-handers and Robinson versus lefties? Matheny wouldn't go so far as to endorse such an alignment.

"Right now, we know Jon Jay is our center fielder," Matheny said. "And he's going to be a big part of what we've got moving forward. We need to get him right. While somebody is trying to get right, it's nice to have another player who can step in. "

With an 0-for-4 night on Monday, Jay's batting average dipped to .197. His on-base percentage sits at .238. Through the team's first 19 games last year, Jay was hitting. 349. He held a .400 batting average at the end of April 2012.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.