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Casto gets sent back to Columbus

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In an attempt to get rookie outfielder Kory Casto more playing time, the Washington Nationals optioned him to Class AAA Columbus and called up outfielder Michael Restovich after last night's 6-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves at RFK Stadium.

"I'm going down there to get at-bats and play every day," Casto said. "That's what it is. Right now, [Chris] Snelling is playing well, and that puts me on the bench. To get at-bats every day is more valuable right now for me."

In seven games with the Nationals, Casto batted .172 in 29 at-bats with one RBI.

Meanwhile, coming into last night's game against the Durham Bulls, Restovich was hitting .313 with 10 hits in 32 at-bats with two doubles and one RBI.

Restovich adds another much-needed right-handed bat to manager Manny Acta's bench.

"That will give us a chance to have some power from the right-hand side on the bench," Acta said.

Casto, who was scheduled to begin this season at Columbus out of spring training, was recalled when center fielder Nook Logan injured his left foot Opening Day and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Casto collected his first big league hit April 3 in a 9-3 loss to the Marlins at RFK Stadium. Casto called his nearly two weeks in the big leagues a "learning experience" and vowed to be better prepared when he gets called up again.

"Everybody knew that it was going to come to this once the guys on the DL returned," Casto said. "I don't know what my chances of staying were even if I would have hit .800," Casto said.

Belliard boom

Since Ronnie Belliard became the team's starting second baseman in the third game of the season, the veteran has thrived at the plate and in the field.

Belliard entered the game hitting .341 in 44 at-bats, and the Nationals had turned 14 double plays in their last 13 games — third best in the National League.

"I told you guys in spring training that Ronnie is a throwback ballplayer," Acta said. "Wherever you hit a ground ball, he can play it and play it well. He's very good defensively at second."

After starting shortstop Cristian Guzman was injured Opening Day, the Nationals moved second baseman Felipe Lopez to shortstop and inserted Belliard at second.

"We're committed to put the best team on the field that we can," general manager Jim Bowden said. "... And Manny [Acta] is going to manage the team with the talent that he's given to the best of his ability and make those decisions."

Fick starts in right

Utilityman Robert Fick made his first outfield start of the season, filling in for Austin Kearns in right field.

Acta made the move to give Fick more at-bats.

With heavy winds swirling at RFK, Fick said he was prepared to deal with the elements.

"You know what? I'm just going to play deep and try not to let them hit it over my head," Fick said before the game. "That's the way I've always played out there. My mom will be watching the game, so I better get a couple hits."

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