Outfielders Try to See The Light

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By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 9, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS, June 8 -- At just past 2 p.m. Friday, Washington Nationals outfielders Austin Kearns and Ryan Church wandered onto the carpeted floor of the Metrodome and into the outfield to take fly balls.

"Mind over matter," Church said.

The Nationals hadn't played in the Minnesota Twins' home park since baseball returned to Washington, and neither Church nor Kearns had played here in their careers. The Teflon roof is almost the color of a baseball, making it very difficult to track fly balls.

By the end of an 8-5 victory, Church had been charged with one error on a dropped fly ball and allowed Joe Mauer's liner to drop under his glove for a triple. Church said he lost both balls in the lights, which are positioned lower than at normal parks.

"You can tell this place was lit for football," Church said. "It's perfect for football."

The solution, Church said: "See ball, go get ball. Just don't take your eyes off of it."

Lopez Sits

Second baseman Felipe Lopez, benched for not running out a pair of grounders in Thursday's loss to Pittsburgh, wasn't in the lineup Friday, but Manager Manny Acta said it had to do with getting Ronnie Belliard playing time rather than further punishing Lopez.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's over," Acta said. "There's no carry-over. I talked to him about it when it happened, and that's it."

53 Players Later, Nats Finish Drafting

The Nationals completed their draft Friday, and for the second year in a row, the club took high school players with seven of its first 10 picks. The most intriguing player from the second day is ninth-round choice Jack McGeary, a left-hander from Roxbury Latin High in Boston. McGeary is committed to Stanford and has expressed a strong desire to go there, but he would have gone much higher if clubs thought they could sign him. The final breakdown: 26 pitchers, 27 position players.

Complete list of Nationals' draft picks, E4

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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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