By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 24, 2008
CHICAGO, Aug. 23 -- Given the Washington Nationals' luck this season with injuries, even those from hit batsmen, the initial prognosis for center fielder Lastings Milledge came not just as a relief, but as an uncharacteristic bit of good fortune.
In the eighth inning Saturday afternoon, a fastball from the Cubs' Ryan Dempster struck Milledge in the left hand. He staggered from the batter's box, and after several steps, folded into a crouch. The team's trainer, Lee Kuntz, rushed to his side.
But Milledge has just a bruised hand, and after the game, Manager Manny Acta said X-rays probably won't be necessary.
"I'll be all right," said Milledge, who remained in the game but didn't have to bat again. "It's a little sore, but I've got to play [today]."Acta the Baseball Fan
In between Friday's and Saturday's afternoon games, Acta decided to fill his free time with, of all things, another baseball game. Along with bullpen coach Rick Aponte and two other Nationals staff members, Acta headed across town to U.S. Cellular Field to watch the White Sox play the Rays.
As far as Acta could remember, it was just the third major league game he has attended as a fan in the past decade.
"Every fly ball people are getting up; people are getting up to buy hot dogs and beer," Acta said.
In the eighth inning, hopeful to beat the crowd, the Nationals' manager grabbed a cab and headed back to the team hotel.Uncharacteristic Change
Before the bottom of the eighth Saturday, Acta made an uncharacteristic defensive change, pulling left fielder Willie Harris from the game in favor of Pete Orr, who usually plays the infield. Harris, who had homered twice the day before, just needed a rest, Acta said. Harris went 1 for 3 before exiting the game.
"He has played just about every inning for such a long time, and I thought he just needed a blow," Acta said.