Guzman to play often; Dunn may get defensive replacement

Cristian Guzman will start consecutive games at shortstop, according to Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. Guzman’s first game will be Friday against the Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium.  

Guzman has yet to start in consecutive games this spring because of family matters in Washington D.C. and he is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Guzman must show Washington that he can throw the ball hard on tough plays. If not, Ian Desmond will start the season as the everyday shortstop, while Guzman ends up as a utility player.

Trying to trade Guzman would be hard for the Nationals because he is making $8 million this season and has the right to veto any trade because he played in the Major Leagues for 10 years and five years for the Nationals.

* Riggleman said if the season were to start Thursday, he would use a defensive replacement in the late innings for first baseman Adam Dunn.

Riggleman declined to name the replacement, but Mike Morse and Josh Willingham are guys who have experience at the position.
“We have enough choices to do it,” Riggleman said. “But I’m not really having a lot of people do that kind of stuff yet because I want Adam to take it upon himself to convince us we don’t need to be doing it anyway.”      
* Right-hander Garrett Mock pitched against the Astros in a Minor League game Thursday and was hit hard. 

After having a solid first inning in which he threw 10 pitches, Mock left the ball up in the strike zone and gave up three home runs. He left the game after four innings.

“It was windy, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the groundball outs were hit fairly hard,” pitching coach Steve McCatty said. “He got some balls up and didn’t get ahead in the count. And that’s what happened. It really wasn’t a good start.”

Mock pitched in the Minor league game in order to give right-hander J.D. Martin a chance pitch on the big-league side.            

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