By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 27, 2009
With one week remaining in the Washington Nationals' season, shortstop Cristian Guzman might have played his final game in the field and reliever Sean Burnett his final game on the mound.
Guzman could be used as a pinch hitter in select situations, interim manager Jim Riggleman said before Saturday's loss to the Atlanta Braves, but his "tender" right shoulder could keep him from playing shortstop again in 2009. He has not been throwing during pregame activities. Because he cannot take the field, his pinch-hitting opportunities would be limited to a pitcher's at-bat. Riggleman has not ruled out shutting down the veteran for the remainder of the season.
"I've talked to the trainer, team doctor, about it," Riggleman said. Guzman "will have something to say about it, too. If he comes in and says, 'Those days off have really helped me, I think I'm fine to go,' then we'll reconsider. But he's going to have to come in and tell me that. I'm not going to put him in at this point of the season if it's going to hurt his arm. We'll further evaluate it, see if the pinch-hitting situation comes up."
Burnett is struggling with a bone contusion that has limited his innings since Aug. 23. Riggleman said the Nationals have enough pitchers to last the remainder of the season without calling upon Burnett. The injury will not require surgery, but it has not improved during the past month.
"I doubt if we'll use him," Riggleman said. "It limits us a little bit because he can be really tough on both lefties and righties. There are some really good left-handed hitters you'd like him to face, and [Ron] Villone is either up or in every night."Zimmerman Enters Late
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, one of the few constants in the Nationals' lineup, did not start Saturday's game but entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
"A little banged-up, like a lot of players this time of year," Riggleman said of Zimmerman. "He's been playing through some nagging stuff. He's sore in a couple different areas."
Zimmerman said he is not injured and should be ready to start Sunday's series finale against the Braves. Utility infielder Pete Orr filled in for Zimmerman at third base before being replaced by Mike Morse.