Platoon Moves to The Top

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 28, 2007

ATLANTA, June 27 -- With Cristian Guzman out for the season with a thumb injury and Felipe Lopez more comfortable hitting second, the Washington Nationals will now have a bit of a strange platoon at the top of the order -- center fielders Ryan Langerhans and Nook Logan.

Langerhans, who hits from the left side, and Logan, who gave up switch hitting to hit from the right side, shared the center field job before Brandon Watson arrived last week from the minors. Then, though, they primarily hit eighth. Now, Watson is back in the minors and Guzman is injured, so Manager Manny Acta said he has little choice, and he talked to both players about the role.

"We expect Logan to bunt a little bit more," Acta said. "We expect him to run a little bit more when he gets on. Langerhans, with his on-base percentage and all of that, they know what's expected."

Langerhans, who came to the Nationals in a May 2 trade with Oakland, hit in the leadoff spot for the second straight game Wednesday night against Atlanta. He had only hit in the first spot in five at-bats during his career before this stint.

"I'm comfortable with it," Langerhans said. "I look forward to the opportunity to try to set the table for the offense. I just think that first time up, you need to work the pitcher a little more. But otherwise, I think my approach will stay the same."

Langerhans went 0 for 4 in Wednesday's 13-0 loss to drop his on-base percentage to .343 in 48 games for Washington. Lopez, who began the year as the Nationals' leadoff man, went 1 for 3 with a walk, but his OBP is a career-low .287. Logan singled in a pinch-hit appearance, but his OBP is an abysmal .256.

Logan will start twice in a weekend series against Pittsburgh, when the Nationals will face lefties Tom Gorzelanny and Paul Maholm.

Left, Right . . .

The Nationals juggled their weekend rotation to split up the three lefties in the rotation again, moving Jason Bergmann back to Monday at RFK Stadium against the Chicago Cubs. Lefty Matt Chico will throw Friday in Pittsburgh, followed by right-hander Jason Simontacchi and lefty Mike Bacsik.

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