The shortstop competition continues, Luis Atilano is sticking around, and morning links
I wanted to get to a couple of quick, leftover items this morning. Yesterday, Jim Riggleman said there remains "no question" that either Ian Desmond or Cristian Guzman would be the starting shortstop. "We're using spring training to determine it," he said. The Nationals want to make the decision with four or five days remaining before opening day, waiting to give Guzman an opportunity to strengthen his shoulder as much as he can.
"We're going to monitor his throwing progress, and we'll see where he's at at the end of spring training," General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "I'm not concerned at all. He's 100-percent healthy. The arm works good. It feels good for him. It's an arm strength thing right now. We think the more he throws, the more he stretches it out, the more strength will come and he'll be back to his usual self."
Rizzo was asked if he could envision a scenario in which both Desmond and Guzman made the team.
"I'm not going to speculate," Rizzo said. "I've always said Desmond is going to be an everyday player somewhere, either in the big leagues or in Triple A. We'll stick to that statement. The competition is going to go on, and we'll see where we're at in 13 days."
Of the 35 players remaining in major league camp, Luis Atilano may be the most overlooked. After a horrendous, four-run debut this spring, Atilano hasn't allowed a run in his last three outings.
A 24-year-old right-hander who made it to Syracuse last year, Atilano is a starter whom the Nationals are keeping around as an insurance policy for their bullpen. It doesn't sound like he has much of a shot to make the 25-man roster unless something changes, but, hey, he's still here.
"We're looking at him down the road more as a potential starter in the organization," Riggleman said. "But he's still hanging in there right now, competing for some innings here in the bullpen. We haven't stretched him out to where he could really start. We've got a guy there we're confident in that if anything happens to anybody else, if anybody is a little tender or whatever, that he's still with us and can contribute somewhere in that bullpen."
Also, Stephen Strasburg is going to make his first spring training start as part of the Nationals' minor league camp. We know Strasburg will start in the majors at some point this year. This weekend, we guessed June 4. Baseball Prospectus went with May 22. Strasburg will join a long line of college phenoms to debut in the majors.
March 24, 2010; 8:45 AM ET
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