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Is it still early?

Obviously, it's April 20. There are 144 games remaining in the season. That is a ton of wood to chop.

But did you watch last night's game? Can you pick an adjective to describe it?

A couple of things I didn't get to ask about last night because of deadlines and guys being in the shower and getting treatment, etc.

Austin Kearns: On Uggla's double over his head, he said normally, if a right-handed hitter drives a ball like that to right, it tails toward the line. So Kearns broke that way initially. "But he squared it up pretty good," Kearns said, and so it stayed straight. He said it's one of those weird balls that's hard to read because it's hit directly at you.

Nick Johnson: On the ball that just sat there, tantalizingly, off first base while he stayed planted there, he said he was caught in between. "It was coming toward me," he said, but then it just kind of stopped. Weird play. And on one of Lopez's errors, the ball it looked like he should have picked, he couldn't see it because it got caught in the scoreboard lights.

Shawn Hill: He told both Manny Acta and Randy St. Claire that he feels fine this morning, normal soreness that he would have the day after he pitches. That's encouraging.

Let me roll out the lineup, and get to some stuff on the other side.

Washington:
Lopez -- 6
Belliard -- 4
Zimmerman -- 5
Kearns -- 9
Milledge -- 8
Pena -- 7
Boone -- 3
Nieves -- 2
Perez -- 1

Johnson gets the day off because Acta doesn't want to beat him into the ground coming off that injury. Kearns and Zimmerman play because Acta said "it's too early" to give them days off even if they're slumping. Those of you crying for them to be benched better not hold your breath, because they're going to be playing for a long time. Here's my exchange with Acta this morning on that topic.

Ever a day off for Kearns?: "It's too early during the season to be giving guys like him a day off. He's one of those guys that really doesn't like taking days off, and this early in the season I wouldn't even consider it. The reason why I'm giving a guy like Nick a day off is because I'm going to take it easy on him knowing the injury that he's coming from, and we don't want to run it down too early."

Zim and Kearns in the same category?: "Oh, yeah. Hey, Tejada just played over 1,000 games in a row. Ripken played over 2,000. These guys are young and energetic and they like to play."

When they are struggling, do you just think they don't get out of slumps on the bench?: "It's too early. If they're struggling and it's halfway through the year maybe later, maybe you can fix that with a day off followed with another day off or something, but right now it's just too early to be trying to cure a slump with a day off."

So my question: Your team has the worst record in baseball, something no one in the organization figured would be the point as we conclude the season's third week. When is "early" not "early" anymore?

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 20, 2008; 11:17 AM ET
 
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