Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Cristian Guzman has looked OK throwing over the last week.
Manager Jim Riggleman said today the club needs to make a decision between veteran Cristian Guzman and rookie Ian Desmond soon so the other can get some playing time at other positions before camp breaks a week from today.
"We need to make a call on it, probably soon," Riggleman said following the Nats' 7-4 victory over the Cardinals. "Just so that whoever we're not going to play there, we can say we're going to have to start moving around. Desmond hasn't played anything but short lately. Guzman hasn't played anything but short. If Guzman's the shortstop, we work Desmond out in other places, or we send him to the minor leagues. And if Desmond's the shortstop, then we work Guzman out in other places."
General manager Mike Rizzo has said more than once this spring that Desmond will play every day at shortstop this season, whether in Washington or at Class AAA Syracuse. Riggleman said last week there were no plans to move Guzman to second base.
Something, though, may have to give. Guzman, making $8 million in the final year of his contract with the club, is batting .233 (7-for-30) with one homer, four RBI and zero walks this spring. He's also still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to prove he can make a throw from his backhand side, though he's been throwing fine on balls hit right at him or to his left.
"He's playing fine," Riggleman said. "His style of throwing is not to get there on top and gun it. That's not what he does. But the ball's getting across the infield nicely. He's got good velocity on his throws. The throws have been from an area that have been at him and a little bit to his left. He hasn't been challenged to his right much. But Guzy's doing fine."
Desmond, meanwhile, is batting .300 (15-for-50) with a homer, a team-high 12 RBI and a .364 on-base percentage. The rookie has, however, made five errors during a spring that has seen him become a center of attention for media members, club officials and scouts from other organizations.
"Any time a young player is playing well, any camp is going to be like that," Riggleman said. "He's the guy in our camp, a young guy who's playing well that you get excited about because he plays with energy and athleticism. I don't think anybody's making too much out of it. But whatever it comes out to be is what it will be. We'll know that in the near future."