Acta Worried About Output From Church

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

PHILADELPHIA, July 24 -- Washington Nationals left fielder Ryan Church spent much of the offseason saying that if he could just get a chance to play every day, he would prove what he could do. His stats over parts of 2005 and '06 -- a .282 average and .491 slugging percentage with 19 homers and 77 RBI in just 464 at-bats -- seemed to offer some promise.

But after going 0 for 3 in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, Church's numbers were modest -- .259, 7 homers, 39 RBI and a .416 slugging percentage.

"I've been healthy," Church said. "That's the good thing. No DL time."

The Nationals, though, want more. Church had six homers and 27 RBI in April and May, one homer and 12 RBI, while slugging .357, since June 1.

"I was expecting more and I think he was expecting more, too," Manager Manny Acta said. "I think he started very well and then he has tailed off. He knows very well that to be a corner [outfielder] guy, 7, 10, 14 home runs -- whatever he hits -- and 60-70 RBI is not going to cut it if you're going to be an everyday guy on a winning team. I think he knows he's got to do better than that."

Church's name is among those most frequently mentioned as a possible piece in a trade, though scouts and executives have various feelings about his ability. Church at first said "I don't care" when asked about the possibility of being traded. But he admitted he does.

"Of course I care," he said. "I want to be here. But we have no control. We can't let it get to us out there. I've just got to go out and play and try to be better than I have been."

Young Is Back

First baseman Dmitri Young was in the lineup for the first time since Thursday, his bruised heel feeling "much better." Young is also a possible trade commodity.

"I used to worry about it," he said, "but then I'd never get traded." Asked if there's a chance he would sign with the Nationals after the season -- when he is a free agent -- he said, "That's always a possibility."

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