Guzman Swinging Well, but Lays Off Homecoming Talk

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 8, 2007

Cristian Guzman played the first six years of his major league career in Minnesota. He was the starting shortstop on Twins teams that won American League Central titles from 2002 to '04. Tonight, he will play against them for the first time since he signed with the Washington Nationals before the 2005 season.

His take on the homecoming?

"I don't want to talk about Minnesota," Guzman said.

A bit of an odd take, considering Guzman is playing his best baseball since he left the Twins and signed a four-year, $16.8 million deal with the Nationals. In his six years with the Twins, he hit .266 with a .303 on-base percentage and an average of more than 10 triples a year.

There was some consideration when Guzman bombed in 2005 with the Nationals -- hitting .219 in the end, but spending the majority of the year under .200 -- that it was because many of his hits had been generated by slapping the ball into the artificial turf at the Metrodome. One thing Guzman did allow yesterday: "I like hitting there. It's very nice."

He also said he told his teammates to watch out for the Metrodome's Teflon roof. "It's white, and you have to keep your eye on the ball all the time," he said.

Guzman enters tonight's game hitting .319 with 21 runs scored in 29 games.

Three to Share DH Duty

With a nine-game road trip through three American League cities beginning tonight, Manager Manny Acta said he would rotate the role of designated hitter among Dmitri Young, Austin Kearns and Ryan Zimmerman. "I'll try to rest those guys," Acta said.

Zimmerman, for one, has no problem with the idea. "Kinda like a half-day off?" he asked.

But he also admitted that he likes the idea of playing 162 games, even if a couple are at DH. "I think people respect guys who go to work every day," he said. As a rookie in 2006, Zimmerman played in 157 games. . . . In yesterday's 3-2 loss, Zimmerman crushed an Ian Snell offering to right-center in the sixth, but it hit off the top of the wall for a double. Kearns ended the game with a hard liner to left against Matt Capps. Both balls might have been homers elsewhere.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company