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First: General manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman met on Thursday with Cristian Guzman to talk about a potential position change. Yes -- at this point, it's just a possibility. Guzman, to this point, has played 1,263 major league games, each and every one at shortstop. But the Nationals wanted open the possibility of a switch to second.Guzman's position in 2010 will depend entirely on free agent/trade activity.Here's the deal."We need a middle infielder," Rizzo said. "An everyday middle infielder. He's one of the two guys. If we're lucky enough to get a second baseman, he stays at short. If what we can get and makes sense for us is a shortstop, we broached the question that he goes to second."
Second: What was Guzman's reaction? Friday, he declined to comment on the matter, but don't read too much into that; he is often reluctant to speak with the media.
Rizzo said that Guzman "was taken by surprise by [the suggested position change]. And that was another reason why we posed the question to him now rather than later. You know, his response was, He's never played second base before. I gave him a laundry list of great players who have continued their careers moving from shortstop to second base, and it kind of sunk in and made some sense. I think that he's a major leaguer, he's a pro, and I think he wants to help the ballclub. If we can rationally show him that this is the best thing for the ballclub, I think he'll jump in with in."
Third: Riggleman on Friday said, rather emphatically, that Guzman's feelings on the potential switch shouldn't even matter. "As far as him being open to it," Riggleman said, "that's really not even a factor. We'll make a call on that; the player doesn't make the call on that... It's a pretty natural thing. A lot of times we think, 'Oh, heaven forbid, we don't want to ruffle any feathers with a ballplayer.' But I mean, Robin Yount, Michael Young, David Eckstein, Cal Ripken -- many guys have moved off shortstop. Whatever you can do to win. Pete Rose comes to spring training: 'Where am I playing this year, skip?' It didn't stop him from getting 4,200 hits. He played first, second, third and left field and went to the all-star game at all four positions, because that's what Sparky Anderson needed. It's about what's best for the team."
Fourth: If the Nats acquire a 2B for next year, Rizzo has no problem, none whatsoever, of keeping Guzman at shortstop.Fifth: Guzman will not be used at second base at any time this year.
Sixth: The Nationals will begin to give Ian Desmond, the shortstop recalled from Class AAA on Tuesday, some practice time at second base. This will merely enable the team to potentially get him some in-game innings at second base this September. Both Riggleman and Rizzo said unequivocally that they view Desmond's future at shortstop.
Seventh: Whatever the position of Acquired Middle Infielder X, Rizzo prefers him to be "defensively oriented." When I asked Rizzo a question about acquiring somebody more along the lines of a Dan Uggla-profile -- big bat, defensive liabilities -- he didn't rule it out, but said, "I'm looking more to a really good defensively-oriented middle infielder to obviously help our pitching staff."
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