Church Says He Will Adjust To Less Time

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

HOUSTON, Aug. 21 -- When the Washington Nationals traded for outfielder Wily Mo Peña last Friday, the news hit Ryan Church -- the incumbent left fielder who had started 110 of his team's 121 games -- the hardest.

"I was [ticked] the first day," Church said. "But it's a business. It's going to happen. It's not like it hasn't happened before. So it's all about what you can do. We brought a guy in, and he's a beast. He's going to be given a chance to play, and he can hit. It's great to have him on our team."

The trickle-down, though, is that Church will play a little less. Tuesday night, he was out of the starting lineup against the Houston Astros in favor of Nook Logan.

Church had been in the midst of his first season playing every day, and when the Nationals acquired Peña, he refused to talk about what looked to be diminished playing time. Tuesday, though, he said he could deal with whatever role he was asked to play.

"It used to get at me," Church said. "But you've got to understand the whole situation. They're going to find a way to get us all in there. They're going to move us around. It's not a problem."

Church has set career highs in every significant offensive category other than homers; he also had 10 homers last season. His 36 doubles tied him for fourth-most in the National League. But his average (.264, from .276) and slugging percentage (.432, from .526) are down from a year ago.

"It's disappointing," he said. "But there's no excuses or anything. It seems like, of late, I'm striking out a lot because I'm trying to get back in one at-bat."

Pitcher Completes Peña Trade

The Nationals completed the trade for Peña on Tuesday by acquiring Class AAA first baseman Chris Carter from Arizona for right-hander Emiliano Fruto, who was playing for Class AAA Columbus. They then sent Carter to Boston as the player to be named in the Peña trade.

Fruto, 23, was acquired by Washington in December as part of the deal that sent second baseman Jose Vidro to Seattle. He had struggled for Columbus, going 3-9 with a 5.26 ERA in 18 appearances.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company