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Acta tweaks lineup! And a move

Let's roll out Manny Acta's lineup tonight vs. John Maine and the Mets.

Cristian Guzman -- 6
Ronnie Belliard -- 4
Ryan Zimmerman -- 5
Nick Johnson -- 3
Lastings Milledge -- 8
Austin Kearns -- 9
Wily Mo Pena -- 7
Johnny Estrada -- 2
Matt Chico -- 1

The move: Paul Lo Duca's right hand is not yet better. He can't grip the bat, and while X-rays were negative, they're going to take a bone scan to see if there's a small fracture that the X-ray didn't pick up. Either way, Lo Duca is not available, so the club called up catcher Wil Nieves as insurance, optioning reliever Chris Schroder to Class AAA Columbus.

The lineup: This essentially moves Ronnie Belliard, hitting just .200, up to the second hole from eighth and sends Lastings Milledge from second to fifth, knocking Austin Kearns to sixth. Here are Manny Acta's thoughts.

"Well, I want to see if I can spark a couple of things, like get Belliard going maybe from the second hole," Acta said. "And also the fact that Milledge is swinging the bat well, and Johnson is a high-on-base-percentage guy. I wanted to see Milledge hitting with guys on bases to see if we can get something going."

He was asked if they see Milledge as a potential run producer: "That's what we envision him in the future. Unless you're able to have a team that is loaded from top to bottom, then he could go all the way to be a leadoff hitter."

What do you think is Kearns's problem?: "He had a couple of good games for us ealrier. On the positive side, at least Kearns, his on-base percentage is up there. He's battling. But right now he's getting beat a little bit on certain pitches that he's able to drive. It's early. He'll get out of it. He's working, so we'll see where that takes him."

And we'll see where these lineup changes take the Nationals tonight against John Maine.


By Barry Svrluga  |  April 16, 2008; 5:12 PM ET
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