-- Ryan Church isn't thinking about it, but it is a reality. Despite the fact that he is technically a part-time player, Church -- the Washington Nationals' outfielder -- just might be in position to win the National League's rookie of the year award.
"I hear fans say, 'Hey, rookie of the year!' and stuff like that," Church said prior to Monday's game against the Anaheim Angels. "But that's on the back burner. I'm not worried about that. We just need to keep winning."
That, of course, would help, and the Nationals entered Monday night on a 10-game winning streak. But certain things are conspiring in Church's favor. First, his play. He entered Monday hitting .326 with 5 homers and 24 RBI, slugging .526. His confidence, he said, is at an all-time high.
Second, he was helped when Colorado shortstop Clint Barmes fell down his apartment steps last week while carrying a package of venison, breaking his shoulder blade and costing himself the next three months. Barmes hit .329 with 8 homers and 34 RBI in 54 games for the Rockies before he went on the disabled list.
Another candidate is Atlanta pitcher Kyle Davies, who is 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in five starts since being called up from the minors.
"As soon as you start worrying about those things," Church said, "you get in trouble."
Robinson Has Eye Surgery
Nationals Manager Frank Robinson was on the job Monday despite having laser surgery on his right eye earlier in the day. The procedure was to fine-tune the original surgery, which was performed in November.
"The only way I wouldn't manage," Robinson said, "is if the doctor said, 'You can't.' "