- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Though shortstop Cristian Guzman will be out a couple more days with a thumb injury he said he has been dealing with since before the All-Star break, both he and Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta said Tuesday that Guzman will not need to go on the disabled list.

Guzman scored the Nationals´ only run as a pinch runner Tuesday night and played the ninth inning at shortstop but will undergo an MRI on his left thumb as a precaution Wednesday. The injury is between his left thumb and forefinger and is still giving him trouble when he begins to swing.

He said he played two weeks with the injury, which started when the team was in Cincinnati on the Fourth of July, but Acta said the All-Star shortstop isn’t ready to play yet.

“We feel that it’s just a couple of days away because he was able to do some stuff to it that he wasn’t able to do before,” Acta said. “I think these three days have really helped him.”

Guzman signed a two-year, $16 million contract extension July 22. He was second in the National League in hits through Monday’s games and leads the team with a .303 average.

Lo Duca hears rumors

Paul Lo Duca’s name has come up in trade rumors, though it’s unclear how much interest there is in him.

The fact he has played positions other than catcher could help him, or it could hurt because teams looking for a veteran catcher aren’t sure whether he still can do it.

Like most everyone trying to make sense of the rumors leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, Lo Duca isn’t sure what to think. He isn’t necessarily opposed to being dealt and expects the Nationals will consider whether to keep him or waive him if he isn’t traded.

“If it happens, it happens,” he said of a possible trade. “If I get a chance to go to another team that has a chance to go to the playoffs, then I’m going to go out there and try to do my thing. We’ll see.”

Lo Duca, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract before the season, has become a utility player while Jesus Flores catches most of Washington’s games. He has started 11 of the last 12 games at first base, and the Nationals could be reluctant to part with him until Dmitri Young returns from the disabled list.

But if there’s one deterrent from a possible trade, Lo Duca thinks it could be his lack of catching.

“I think a lot of teams might be backing off because they think I might be still injured and they want me to catch and I’m not catching,” he said. “It’s a tough proposition. We’ll have to see what happens.”

Pena concealed injury

Left fielder Wily Mo Pena, who is likely out for the rest of the season with a torn left rotator cuff, said Tuesday he played through the injury for two years and concealed it from the Nationals as long as he could before eventually having surgery.

“Every time I swing, it was getting me,” he said. “[Normally] every time I make contact, I let [my right] hand go, and I can’t let it go. I was hanging on. I can’t just let this one go.”

Pena said general manager Jim Bowden and the team’s training staff repeatedly asked him whether he was hurt this season, when he hit .205 in 64 games.

“They’ve known me for a long time, just with Jim Bowden. He’d always ask me, and I told him, ‘No, no, I’m good, I’m good.’ They know something was happening. They said, ‘You’re hurt,’” Pena said. “And I was like, ‘No.’ I keep everything [to] myself, just trying to play, trying to do something for the team.”

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