Guzman making a case to be starting shortstop
Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman played the first of two consecutive games Friday afternoon and was able to throw the baseball without any problems in a 7-4 victory over the Cardinals.
Guzman, who is recovering right shoulder surgery, had three assists and made two putouts in the game. Manager Jim Riggleman was encouraged by what he saw from Guzman. For most of the exhibition season, the team was concerned that Guzman’s shoulder wasn’t strong enough to make tough throws. Now, it appears Riggleman isn’t worried about Guzman’s shoulder.
“He is playing fine. His style of throwing is not to get up there and gun it. It’s not what he does,” Riggleman said. “The ball is getting across the infield nicely. He has a good velocity on his throws. Guzzie is doing fine.”
Entering Saturday’s action, the battle for the starting job at shortstop is between Guzman and Ian Desmond. So far, Desmond has the lead, hitting .300 and leading the team with 12 RBIs. If he is not the starting shortstop, Desmond will go to Triple-A Syracuse and play every day at the same position.
Guzman has played only 10 games this spring because of shoulder issues and he had to deal with family matters in Washington. He is 7-for-30 [.233] with a home run and four RBIs.
Riggleman said that he has to make a decision between Desmond and Guzman soon. If Guzman is not the everyday shortstop, the plan is to make him a utility player. Riggleman acknowledged that Guzman would have to take a “crash course” on how to play second base, a position Guzman has never played in his life. Guzman has played third base once and that was during the All-Star Game in 2008 at Yankee Stadium
“If one of those two guys were on the ballclub and not be the shortstop, we need to get him some work some other places,” Riggleman said. “We need to make a call on it pretty soon.”