Lo Duca in LF?

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Another cool but sunny day here in Seattle, where the Nationals are going for their first three-game series sweep of the year. They won both game of a two-game series against the Braves in late-April, but haven’t gone 3-0 against anyone yet this season. The Nats have put themselves in this position because they’ve actually produced some offense the last two nights. They scored seven runs in the opener Friday, then added five more last night (thanks in large part to Jesus Flores‘ tiebreaking homer in the seventh). Flores is now hitting .327 with four homers and 23 RBI in 32 games. He leads the team in both on-base percentage (.400) and slugging percentage (.584) and because of all that, Manny Acta has essentially said the 23-year-old will remain his regular catcher even after Paul Lo Duca returns from the DL on Tuesday. What happens to Lo Duca? Well, guess what Acta mentioned this morning: Lo Duca playing some left field. Yes, you heard that right. I’ll give you a minute to pick yourself up off the floor before continuing. … It’s true. Lo Duca could get some playing time both in left field and possibly at first base, while still catching some too backing up Flores. If you’re wondering, yes, Lo Duca has played the outfield before. He’s got 37 games of experience out there, 35 of them coming in left field. He hasn’t done anything but catch since 2004, so it would be interesting to see how he handled such a position switch now, but it’s not like the Nats are loaded in left field to begin with. Right now, Acta is just playing a revolving door of guys: Wily Mo Pena, Ryan Langerhans, Kory Casto, Willie Harris. No one has seized the job, so why not give Lo Duca a shot? While you stew over that one, here’s today’s starting lineup against Mariners lefty Jarrod Washburn, who comes into this one 2-7 record and 6.09 ERA. I doubt the Nats will have a more favorable matchup to complete a sweep all season… SS Guzman (.333 during an 8-game hitting streak) RF Dukes (.299 with 13 walks and 10 RBI over last 20 games) CF Milledge (.269-2-4 in 13 games as No. 3 hitter) DH Young (316th career game as DH) C Flores (18 of his 22 hits this season have been for extra bases) 3B Belliard (7-for-19 since coming off DL) 1B Boone (strained neck has healed) 2B Lopez (.231 with 2 RBI in June) LF Pena (first multi-hit game last night since May 17) P Redding (been stuck at 6-3 since May 19)

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Mark Zuckerman

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