Nationals Notebook

Washington Nationals Infielder Alberto Gonzalez Adds a Dimension to His Game

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 18, 2009

On July 31, 2008, the Washington Nationals traded for shortstop Alberto González. His reputation: "A glove guy," Manager Manny Acta said. "No bat."

Since then, González has outperformed his reputation with such regularity that Washington is starting to dismiss it. González played well (and hit well) at the end of 2008. He dazzled in spring training, earning a spot on the 25-man roster. And in the season's first week, with at-bats available because of injuries to other middle infielders, González has continued that performance, with six hits in his first 12 at-bats, including a home run.

Before the trade, González had a .152 average in 66 at-bats with the Yankees. Since, in 61 at-bats, he's hitting .377.

"I'll tell you -- all he's done is hit for us," Acta said.

With starting shortstop Cristian Guzmán placed on the 15-day disabled list last night (retroactive to April 14) because of a strained hamstring, González will have a longer opportunity but might eventually head to Class AAA Syracuse so he can play every day. The team expressed such a preference to González in spring training.

González said he's fine with either scenario.

"It was hard [in New York]," he said. "They had [Derek] Jeter and A-Rod, [Robinson] Canó at second. Here there is more of a chance. And I'm playing."

To fill Guzmán's spot, the Nationals are expected to add infielder Alex Cintrón to the 40-man roster and recall him from Syracuse.

Dunn Moves to Right

Adam Dunn received his first start last night in right field, an indication of Washington's interest in finding more at-bats for Josh Willingham, who fits best in left. Though the Nationals know Dunn's limitations in right -- or anywhere in the field, for that matter -- they appreciate his willingness to try.

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