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NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

Balester Gets Called Up, Will Pitch Tuesday

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By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 29, 2008

Class AAA Columbus pitcher Collin Balester, one of the organization's most promising prospects, will have his chance to show why. Balester will take the place of injured starter Shawn Hill on Tuesday against the Florida Marlins, the team said yesterday.

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Balester, 22, will make his major league debut. His promotion had as much to do with his performance as his potential. With the Clippers, Balester is 9-3 with a 4.00 ERA. In his past five starts, he is 4-0, having never allowed more than two earned runs. Balester previously pitched June 24, and was scheduled to pitch today in the minors. He will skip that start.

Balester was chosen in the fourth round of the 2004 draft. Nationals Manager Manny Acta had said this week that Balester wouldn't appear with the Nationals unless they believed he would be here as a long-term member of the rotation.

Guzmán Gets All-Star Support

Just before pregame batting practice yesterday, a Nationals official approached shortstop Cristian Guzmán with a reminder: He needed to fill out an all-star ballot, part of the requirement that players vote for their peers.

Guzmán's teammates, in turn, used the form as an opportunity to fulfill another charge. Many voted for Guzmán, who has emerged from three underperforming years to lead the National League in hits.

An informal poll among Washington players indicated, almost unanimously, the support for Guzmán.

"He's been our best and most consistent player without question," Aaron Boone said.

Because every team must send one representative to the All-Star Game, Guzmán has an upper hand -- even though he plays a position stacked with Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramírez, José Reyes and Miguel Tejada.

"He's done his job," Acta said. "A lot of those guys, despite their names, aren't doing what he's doing right now. Those guys are performing well, too, but [Guzmán] is having a tremendous season."


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