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As They Go For The Sweep...

Just a few pre-game notes here...

You'll notice a new middle infield combo tonight. Alex Cintron is at SS; Ronnie Belliard is at 2B. Both moves are pretty self-explanatory -- Manny Acta just wants to get some at bats for the reserves -- but Cintron, especially, is getting the start tonight for a reason. In the last four games, shortstop Alberto Gonzalez has made five errors, struggling both with his throwing and his glove. Granted, the whole Cintron/Gonzalez thing is just a bridge until Cristian Guzman comes off the DL, but one of those players will probably stick around once Guzman is healthy.

Here is what Acta said about Gonzalez's defensive woes:

"Tough to explain," Acta said. "This guy, everybody knows how good defensively he is. I think he made, like, one error in his first 38 or so games at shortstop [last year]. Unusual. But he's been a little shaky lately. He hasn't been his old self. But it's there. He's still a good defensive player. He'll probably go now a month without booting another ground ball."


*

Despite rumors of their interest, the Nationals are not exploring the possibility of signing current free agent Mark Mulder. The left-handed pitcher, a two-time all-star and former 20-game winner, has pitched just 12-2/3 innings during the last two years because of injury problems. Mulder's agent, Gregg Clifton -- a Scottsdale, Ariz., neighbor of acting general manger Mike Rizzo -- spoke with the club roughly a month ago about his client. But the Nationals have since backed off. Clifton has said that Mulder, who last pitched for the Cardinals, will be healthy enough to start big league games within two weeks.

*

Some things to keep an eye on...

The Nats are going for the sweep tonight. Their previous sweep? Aug. 29-31, 2008, against... the Braves.

Ryan Zimmerman has an 11-game hitting streak going. But it's an unusual sort of streak -- the result of routine productivity, not some torrid hot spell. During those 11 games, his average is .300 (15 for 50). His hit totals, game-by-game: 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1.

This is John Lannan's second start against Atlanta this year. On April 11, he allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 22, 2009; 6:43 PM ET
 
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Comments

Geez, do you think that maybe you could have fit the word "sweep" in there a few more times?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 22, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Geez, were you trying to jinx us Chico?

Posted by: curz | April 22, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Say that again, please? At the same time they were cutting their best starting pitcher because he'd complained about some soreness or tightness one time this Spring, they were pursuing Mark Mulder? Mulder may have some ability, if he returns to health, but Hill was way ahead of Mulder in preparation for the season.

Frankly -- they should be talking to Mulder, if he's interested. Nothing wrong with that. I'm just trying to understand how and why they released Hill. I doubt there's anything anyone could add which will make sense of that decision for me -- unless they were intent on tanking this season.

Posted by: fischy | April 22, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

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