Wait a Second: Lopez Comes Up Big at Short

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Felipe Lopez spent most of spring training making the transition from shortstop to second base. But during Cristian Guzman's stint on the disabled list, Lopez has played well back at shortstop, and Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden yesterday didn't guarantee that Guzman would return to that position.

"We're committed to putting the best team on the field that we can, that's what we're committed to," Bowden said when asked if the team was committed to keeping Guzman at shortstop. "And Manny's going to manage the team with the talent he's given to the best of his ability and make those decisions."

Manager Manny Acta said he has been pleased with Lopez's play at shortstop. Lopez was an all-star in 2005 while playing the position for Cincinnati.

"You've got to give it up to Felipe," Acta said. "Felipe is playing very good shortstop considering that maybe he took ground balls at short twice in spring training and devoted all this time to making the switch to second base."

Meantime, Acta said both Guzman and injured center fielder Nook Logan would need "at least a week" even though both are eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list today.

"It's going to be a little while," Bowden said. "They're making progress but they're not there yet."

He said both Logan (left foot strain) and Guzman (left hamstring strain) are scheduled to travel with the team during a three-game series at Florida starting Friday. Acta said Guzman ran on a treadmill yesterday while Logan still had soreness in his foot.

Ayala, Simontacchi Pitch

Nationals pitchers Luis Ayala and Jason Simontacchi, who are both recovering from injuries, pitched this week at the team's extended spring training in Viera, Fla. Bowden said Simontacchi pitched 2 2/3 innings yesterday and gave up "a couple of runs." Bowden said Simontacchi hit 90 mph on the radar gun. Meantime, Ayala threw an inning against live hitters on Monday. "We're happy with both of their performances," Bowden said.

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