Well, we now know why the Nationals called up Alberto Gonzalez to replace Justin Maxwell: They needed someone to play shortstop for the rest of the weekend because Cristian Guzman has an injured right thumb.
Guzman apparently jammed the thumb sometime previously and then re-aggravated it earlier this week in New York. It’s not considered serious, but he’ll need to be out of the lineup for a couple of days, so Gonzalez takes over as the starting shortstop for now.
In other pregame news…
— Terrell Young, the Rule 5 draft pick whom the Nats sent back to the Reds two weeks ago, had to be returned to Washington because his shoulder is still injured. Young appeared to be healthy when the Nationals offered him back to Cincinnati, but he complained of shoulder pain, and an MRI revealed tendinitis. Now, Young will go to Birmingham Thursday to see the esteemed Dr. James Andrews, who will perform exploratory surgery and see if the right-hander has any more serious damage. What it really means: Young is back on the Nats’ 40-man roster, earning a big-league salary, and he must remain there until he is clearly healthy.
— Austin Kearns is starting in center field tonight. It’s only his 12th appearance out there with the Nationals. With Maxwell sent down and Elijah Dukes not ready to come off the DL until Tuesday, Willie Harris is the only center fielder left on the roster. And with two tough lefties (Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer) starting for the Phillies the next two nights, Manny Acta preferred to go with the right-handed-hitting Kearns. You just have to hope the outfield of Josh Willingham-Kearns-Adam Dunn gets the job done defensively.
— Scott Olsen threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session in Viera today. The timetable for his return is mid-June.
— By the way, Kearns is one 19 different men who have played center field for the Nationals since 2005. Props to anyone who can name all 19 (without looking it up). There are a couple of doozies on that list, some long-forgotten Nats.