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More On Kearns, And A Random Henry Mateo Reference

Strictly speaking, the roster move the Nats made today involved a straight-up swap of old-ish prospects, 25-year-old Justin Maxwell and 26-year-old Alberto Gonzalez. Maxwell, a centerfielder, was returned to Class AAA Syracuse after 16 hitless at bats. Gonzalez, a shortstop, was recalled from Syracuse.

Though the move appeared straightforward -- Maxwell's second big league stint this season ended; Gonzalez's second big league stint began -- it resonated with two veterans, immediately altering the circumstances for outfielder Austin Kearns and shortstop Cristian Guzman.

Washington plucked Gonzalez from the minors largely because it needed a temporary shortstop. Guzman, in a 7-for-42 rut that has dropped his average from .385 to .329, is dealing with a sore thumb that flared up in the previous series against the Mets.

"I can't tell you when it [originally happened], but I know it started to bother him in the cold weather in New York the other day," Manager Manny Acta said.

As a result, Gonzalez will handle the shortstop duties for the next few days.

"We're going to give him a couple days off," Acta said, "and see if it heals."

Meantime, the Nationals must invent something of a comb-over outfield, trying to compensate for thin depth. Though Kearns has the strongest arm and best instincts among Washington's outfielders, he hasn't had much of a chance to test them in center. Today, he'll start in center for the first time since Aug. 19, 2007, and for the 45th time in his career.

"Just more ground you've got to cover," Kearns said. "More responsibility."

On Tuesday, when their next homestand begins, the Nationals are expected to activate Elijah Dukes (hamstring) from the disabled list. But Kearns could start again in center tomorrow, because the Nationals will face another left-handed pitcher, Jamie Moyer.

"The other option would be to put Willie [Harris] out there, and it's not a really good match-up," Acta said. "So we're just trying to get some offense."

A few other tid-bits about Kearns in CF:

> Kearns started 37 games in center in 2003, while Ken Griffey Jr. was injured.

> When Kearns was acquired in a trade with Cincinnati in July 2006, he immediately started in center in four of the next five games. Since then, he's started in center just once for the Nats.

> We were chatting with Kearns today about this topic, trying to tease out a list of Nats centerfielders in 2006. A glorious list. The full list: Marlon Byrd, Ryan Church, Nook Logan, Alex Escobar, Damian Jackson, Brandon Watson, Marlon Anderson, Kearns, Luis Matos, Henry Mateo.

*

Two weeks ago, the Nationals returned Terrell Young, their Rule 5 draft pick, to the Cincinnati Reds. But once Young reported, he complained of shoulder tendinitis -- with symptoms similar to those that held him out of spring training, while with Washington. Because of that injury, Major League Baseball has voided Young's return, meaning that the reliever is back on Washington's 40-man roster. And back on the 15-day disabled list. On Thursday, orthopedist James Andrews will perform exploratory surgery on Young's right shoulder.

I'll let acting GM Mike Rizzo elaborate...

"The situation is, we sent him back to Cincinnati as part of the Rule 5 return policy. And when we sent him back there, he was throwing successfully and pain-free. When the Reds got him, he discovered he had a little tendinitis in his shoulder. So they contacted us, and we asked them to bring him back to us and have our doctors see him again... We did find a continuation of the tendinitis, and Dr. [James] Andrews recommended we do an exploratory surgery to see what, if anything, is going on."

Asked about whether Young was healthy at the time of his return to Cinci, Rizzo said, "Well, he went on his throwing program, so we ramped him up to game speed. He pitched in one game for us and said he felt great, everything was good, so we deemed him healthy and we sent him back to the Reds."

*

Scott Olsen (left shoulder, 15-day DL) threw a 35-pitch bullpen down in Viera, Fla., today and felt good. He's likely on target for a mid-June return.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 30, 2009; 6:31 PM ET
 
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Next: A Long Homer, Another Loss

Comments

Let's put Olsen in the bullpen when he gets back. I prefer him as a long reliever over being a starter.

Posted by: kevinx | May 30, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Well, I kinda prefer him waiting tables somewhere, but I won't be too picky.

Posted by: Section406 | May 30, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Take all the time you want coming back, Bobo. No rush. Sept. 15 would be fine.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 30, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

WOW...how about that. We actually held a lead for an inning over them Phils. What a great start. Yeah, I know that man hit a grand slam, but still, them nasty Nats led for almost 2 innings. Now how about that for a bright spot this weekend. GO NATS...givem em a fight all night.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 30, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

A couple of walks and an infield hit and look what happens. Our freakin' pitchers should by now that you don't put people on base with Ryan Howard looming. Looks like we're headed for another one in the loss column...

Posted by: BGinVA | May 30, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I guess Chico was being sarcastic while mentioning ex centerfielders,i saw Marlon Byrd's name on that list but he is playing well and starting more often than not for the first place Texas Rangers.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 30, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Martis really showed some guts battling back in the fourth inning to get those last two outs didn't he. I bet Mark, Stan and the rest of the FO are so proud of the courage these guys are showing tonight. I bet J.B. is off somewhere with a TV watching his proud old warriors battle the champs tonight. Man, if we could average a run an inning against most teams it might be eneough to even win a game, could you imagine something like that...WOW.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 30, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Man, haven't seen Mini-Manny in a long time, right on Ronnie!!!
Nice bass-ackwards call by Carpenter — most occasions, he'll call out "How far is that one???" when it's warning track power, and here he's just conversational "wow, look where that went..." I just don't get this guy.

Posted by: HotNats | May 30, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

this club's outfield defense is atrocious. two subpar fielders on the corners and the best outfielder is playing out of position between those plumbers. jimbow sure knew what he was doing putting a young pitching staff at risk on front of those guys.

Posted by: surly_w | May 30, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Dibble on Bellie's HR: "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then"

LOL

Posted by: twinbrook | May 30, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I've always loved the Blind Squirrel line - that was my very first dart team's name... (It was pretty damn apt, too)

Posted by: HotNats | May 30, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

What is that guy doing with a radar gun in the second row behind home plate? Does he not trust the scoreboard?

Posted by: janus4444 | May 30, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Anderson Hernandez should be DFA'd for that play. Another brain-dead Manny boy.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 30, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, just noticed the walkie...perhaps he is the scoreboard.

Posted by: janus4444 | May 30, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Nice catch AK...and did you see how brave Hernandez was getting in front of that laser ground ball by Howard. What guts he showed to get in front of THAT. And to think it actually hit his glove. I tell you, I haven't seen such brave heroic play in a long time...way to go. Probably Villones fault for not striking the chump out.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 30, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Chico: Dibble just said that he hasn't seen the Nats take fielding practice since the last homestand and then it was only once. Can you confirm this? Please ask Acta about why a team leading the league in errors wouldn't take fielding practice before every night game.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 30, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Forget fielding practice before the game. How about a 4 hour practice on the off day Monday consisting of only fielding practice. These guys have done nothing worthy of a day off.

Posted by: spnats1 | May 30, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Our rightfielder just keeps throwing his body in front of that ball. Have you ever seen a more unthoughtful act of bravery in your life?

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 30, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm writing this before Ryan Howard hits it, but this is an inevitable three-run home run spot. My god, this team is an embarassment, StanK.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 30, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

What a comeback by Colome to strike out the side and keep the deficit to 3 runs...I'm gonna grab a beer to celebrate such a feat.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 30, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Careful driving home. 13-and-35. On our way to 115 losses...120...125...130?
Manny Must Go. Now.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 30, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Nats scored 6 runs against the champs tonight, an outstanding accomplishment. I know the Phillies put up 9, but hey, they're supposed to be able to do that sort of thing on a regular basis. Maybe we can make it a little closer tomorrow and then the team and family members can enjoy a safe train ride home and prepare to award Randy Johnson win number 300 on the next homestand. Sleep well everyone.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 30, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

This is just beyond reason, what in the world is going on. I'm watching this latest dabacle and thinking "they don't even care"! Gotta think Nick Johnson must be counting the days till he is outta here and for the useless Manny/JimBo tool Austin Kearns those days can't come soon enough. Dibble and Knight are absolutely besides themselves in regards to the lack of preparation, communication and positioning this team shoes day in and day out. What a disgrace this is. Folks this is not some back-water small market team and to see this unfold this way well into year 5 is just crazy. The damage that is being done by these idiots (FO and in the dugout) will take years, if not a generation to correct. If they go 0-6 on this road-trip there is no way Manny survives. There has got to be a point at which the Lerners stop asking the questions and StanK starts looking for solutions. With the Giants and Reds coming in, this team will be lucky to draw 10K.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 30, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

"If they go 0-6 on this road-trip there is no way Manny survives. There has got to be a point at which the Lerners stop asking the questions and StanK starts looking for solutions."

But we've been saying this for WEEKS now. Nothing has changed. The team is now 13-35. The gum-chewing manager sat in the dugout and let the umpiring crew screw his team in NYC, and seemed not to care a bit about it. He refuses to run fielding practices for an incompetent defense. He says over and over again there's no cause for alarm. As if 13-35 is no cause for alarm.

The organization doesn't care. Why should we? Yet we do, day after day, come on here and care in a public way. We argue among ourselves about a team whose management and ownership doesn't care as much as we do.

Could it be any more depressing? Do the Nationals have any desire to do anything with this team and its beautiful stadium? Does Acta have some kind of dirty pictures of the owners?

I am dumb. Completely bereft of any explanation for this travesty.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | May 30, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Boy,
Manny has to blow up and rip s**t on these folks before he either gets mugged and killed by fans like myself or finds himself without a job.

What is getting tiring is listening to his bulls**t on the post game show, making excuses for all of this bad play. He sounds like a tiring record.

Pictures of him shows a deer caught in headlights, I am starting to lose respect for him because he doesn't seem like a leader, seems more like a little league coach that tells junior after he boots the ball "good try Junior" "Don't worry Junior, it will get better". This is the major leagues for goodness sakes. This isn't little league, he has to start losing his temper and getting these boys scared of him and worried about there jobs.

There is no excuse for crap like this day in and day out. You know that after 48 games in 1962, the worst team of the modern era, the New York Mets, were also 13 and 35. That team had nothing in the way of a Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson. I looked it up, in 1962 the Mets averaged 1.7 runs per game, the Nats are averaging over 6 runs per game and have only won 13 times.

I really love Manny and what a proud man he has been for this team but boy I am starting to wonder if Rizzo and Kazten should give him a two week vacation and see what happens.

Posted by: Golfersal | May 30, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Let us all pray for a safe train ride home tomorrow, because the way this team has derailed on the field, anything is possible. You would think that sooner or later this team would hit a wall and bounce back, but the only wall they seem to be hitting is the one they run into chasing down fly balls. I really think the outfielders need to wear helmets on this club.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 30, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Who here thinks Manny makes it past Monday, given the recent 2-9 homestand followed by (admit it now) an 0-6 road trip? With the Rockies canning Hurdle, that increases the pressure on our ownership to follow suit.

Posted by: BGinVA | May 30, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

new - and depressing - post...

Posted by: BGinVA | May 30, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

The most frustrating part of watching the Nationals implode is Manny Acta's unwillingness to make changes.

The worst defense in the league but he won't make the team take infield practice because "it doesn't do any good." Time and time again, the team makes unforgivable errors, yet nothing is done to correct them.

The Nationals lost the drive-by fans long ago, and the serious fans started leaving sometime last year.

Now the die-hard fans, those of us who can be counted through thick and thin, are losing patience.

I could care less about the record, but give me a reason for hope. Nearly 50 games into the season, the team is still playing players out of position and holding on to players (i.e. Nick etc.) who have no future with the club.

The team's talent level and record don't jive -- they should be 20-27 (give or take) but they aren't.

At some point, you stop blaming the players and look elsewhere. I mean, it's not Adam Dunn's fault for making two errors last night -- he is playing out of position for the good of the team. It's the fault of team management for starting the season thinking Lastings Milledge was a center-fielder and playing Josh Willingham part-time.

It's a deeply sad state of affairs. The team is going to cast off Manny sooner or later; might as well do it now and begin to make the aforementioned changes.

Posted by: rushfari | May 31, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

well said, shepdave2003. well said.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 31, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

So, the Nats tried to ship damaged goods to Cincy again. Not surprising they objected.

Posted by: fischy | May 31, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

BTW -- it seems pretty clear that the Nats should have stuck with Byrd. They might even be a decent team if he was in center field.

Posted by: fischy | May 31, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

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