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Injury updates, the lineup -- and Casto optioned

Kind of a slow, groggy morning around here. Coaching staff and some others did double duty yesterday with the day-night, home-away split. But there are some injury updates.

* Ryan Zimmerman will not play today or tomorrow with lingering soreness in his right hip flexor suffered Tuesday in Atlanta. Manny Acta said the problem is not getting worse, and that he's just being cautious. "It's playable," Acta said. "We don't want to take any chances." I would guess we'd see him Monday against the Mets.

* Lastings Milledge stubbed his toe making a running catch againt the center field wall Thursday night. He stayed in that game, but was scratched from yesterday's trip. "All he needed was like a day off, and I'm going to give him a couple," Acta said.

* Elijah Dukes's hamstring is going to keep him out for the weekend. Acta will try to get him in there on Monday.

* There was some confusion about the plan for Paul Lo Duca. As I put in the notebook this morning, he's going to catch three innings, but in the minor league intrasquad game today. They'll stretch him out there to about five innings in the next couple days, depending on how he feels, before getting him into a Grapefruit League game. Acta called it a "controllable environment," so they can get him as many at-bats or innings as they see fit.

* Johnny Estrada: "Johnny's plugging along," Acta said. I asked, however, if by this point it would be a longshot for Estrada to be ready for the opener. "I would think so," Acta said. So there's going to have to be some juggling at catcher.

* Also, Kory Casto was just optioned to Class AAA Columbus. I actually went back and looked at the last time I wrote his name in the paper, and it was in January. He's a great kid, but the depth in the organization -- as well as his difficult last season -- have moved him down the chart. It'll be interesting to see what position he plays down there. My guess is third base and a little outfield.

Lineup against the Dodgers:
Cristian Guzman -- 6
Bret Boone -- 4
Dmitri Young -- DH
Austin Kearns -- 9
Alex Escobar -- 7
Pete Orr -- 5
Matt Whitney -- 3
Jesus Flores -- 2
Willie Harris -- 8

And on the mound, making his debut in a real game this spring, veteran left-hander Odalis Perez.

Oh, and Acta said Bergmann pitched well last night but was victimized by poor defense. It was raining the entire game, which I'm sure didn't help.

And, finally, my season-ticket group is holding its draft at noon today at the Champps sports bar in Pentagon City. I obviously won't be there, but have entrusted the drafting to a close buddy, who has been provided with a clear priority chart. If you're watching hoops over at Champps today, give the large group with all the beers hell, please.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 15, 2008; 9:22 AM ET
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I wonder if this signals the end of Casto's promise with the Nats? Maybe he will never fulfill his early promise, but his skill set seems similar to Rob Mackowiak's and he would be a younger and cheaper alternative off the bench.

Posted by: natsscribe | March 15, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe he will never fulfill his early promise, but his skill set seems similar to Rob Mackowiak's and he would be a younger and cheaper alternative off the bench."

A great player he isn't, but Mackowiak is a career .260 hitter and has already played at the ML level at multiple positions. I think that makes him much more valuable as our utility guy than Casto - at least at this point.

Posted by: Bazz | March 15, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Appropos of nothing, is anyone as annoyed as I am about Phil Wood's show where the first caller always seems to be an Orioles' fan? Or that the first two callers today were Orioles' fans? Aren't there sports talk stations in Baltimore?

Posted by: natsscribe | March 15, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

More of us just need to call. I have heard him discuss the Nats a significant amount. I think we also have each other and Barry (for now), and already have kicked enough of this stuff around that Phil Wood can't add much more.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 15, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Casto hasn't fallen as fall as Larry Broadway. There is the small chance that he could be called up again if he tears it up and an injury results in the need for a backup infielder.

Casto definitely should hope for a Mackowiak kind of career. It doesn't seem like he could hope for much more at this point. Of course, he has at least tasted the majors, which is something Broadway can't say.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 15, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Where is Mackowiak anyway? Only 1 AB this spring? Is Willie Harris ahead of him on the pecking order?

Posted by: GoNats7 | March 15, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"Lastings Milledge stubbed his toe..."

Sounds like Nick Johnson, Shawn Hill, or John Patterson's names should begin that sentence, not Lastings Milledge.

Barry, you sure you got the name right?

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 15, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

XM 175 reported this morning that Wily Mo was going to have surgery Monday to repair the torn oblique. I assume they were reading a press release or other previously reported news item, but can't find anything.

Barry, anything you could comment on here?

Posted by: tomterp | March 15, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I know many of the health issues are small but here we have Zimmerman, Dukes, Pena, Milledge, Hill, Patterson?-six players everyone has placed high expections upon hurting. As well, there's LoDuca, Estrada, Boone,and Wagner.
As a former Expo fan and a present Nat fan, I've witnessed an unbelievable number of injuries year in, year out,for as far back as I care to remember.
Discouraging for me as a fan and I can't imagine how much more so for the players.
Hey, glass half full though-Hang in there Nick, Alex, Christian and Jason.

Posted by: Jeeves | March 15, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

It is hard to know... but I don't know whether the proper term is "fallen" when referring to Broadway and Casto... as much as it is that the tide has risen around them. There are certainly a lot more quality prospects in the system than there were a year or two ago...

That said, I don't think either Broadway or Casto has met their expectation... but it may have been the expectation was too high to begin with.

Posted by: Wigi | March 15, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

So a rising tide does not raise all the boats. Apparently, it sinks some, too. Not that we didn't learn that 20 years ago.

Posted by: CE | March 15, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse


Some are boats, some are anchors.

Posted by: Wigi | March 15, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I think Casto may be the next one off the 40-man roster, after Langerhans (who must have naked pictures of Jim Bowden or something, that being the only reason he remains on the 40-man or on the team. By my count he's the 9th outfielder on the depth chart behind Kearns, Pena, Milledge, Dukes, Mackiowiak, Harris, Maxwell and our rule5 guy.

Posted by: Sec131 | March 15, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

there is another post.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

none of us really needed that visual Sec131...
God, somebody stab me in my minds eye...

Posted by: TimDz | March 15, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

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