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Maxwell demoted, Gonzalez recalled

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After last night’s game — when Justin Maxwell went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to fall to 0-for-16 since his return to the Nationals — Manny Acta said he couldn’t really afford to put the slumping center fielder back in the lineup. “Right now we’re probably just going to have to try some other alternative out there,” the manager said. “He’s very tentative. He’s not even pulling the trigger and swinging the bat.”

Well, the Nats’ solution with Maxwell wasn’t to send him to the bench, but rather to send him to Syracuse. The club has decided today to option him back to Class AAA and recall infielder Alberto Gonzalez.

It’s not a totally surprising move, though perhaps surprising in its timing. Elijah Dukes is supposed to be coming off the DL within a few days, so it seemed like Maxwell would hang around until then. But maybe the Nats felt like they just couldn’t use one of their precious bench spots on a guy who simply looks lost facing major league pitching right now.

Perhaps also they’re thinking they could use another guy who can play shortstop, given the way Cristian Guzman has fallen back to earth over the last three weeks. Guzman has just seven hits in his last 42 at-bats, and during that stretch his batting average has fallen an astounding 56 points (from .385 to .329). Not saying Acta’s going to suddenly bench his leadoff man and starting shortstop all of a sudden, but maybe Guzman could benefit from an occasional day off. And the previous roster had no one else who could play shortstop, so Gonzalez does offer something in that regard.

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Mark Zuckerman

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