Nothing to praise for Nats in loss

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Dukes, through a team spokesman, declined to speak to reporters after the game, but Acta said the struggling 23-year-old will continue to play … for now.

“This is an opportunity for us to find out what he can do and what he can’t do,” Acta said. “I can’t give you an amount of at-bats on how long we’re going to keep sending him out there, but it’s an opportunity for them to play. Nobody can say later on they didn’t get a chance.”

CHAT EXCERPT

Each Wednesday beat writer Mark Zuckerman answers fans’ questions on washingtontimes.com. To submit a question, e-mail natsmailbag@washingtontimes.com and read his responses at video1.washingtontimes.com/natsmailbag.

From Art in Rockville: Read your article the other day where you suggested Tim Redding could be the Nats’ All-Star rep. Who do you think will end up being the guy?

Mark Zuckerman: I did make a bit of a case for Redding after his latest win the other night. The guy is 6-3 with a 3.16 ERA, is tied for third in wins in the NL and gives the Nationals a chance to win almost every time he gets the ball. Do I think he’ll be an All-Star? Probably not, though stranger things have happened. It’s funny, though, how much can change over the next (six to seven) weeks until the rosters are named. I remember a year ago at this time thinking Jesus Colome deserved to make the team. Dmitri Young wasn’t even on my radar screen. Then Dmitri went on an absolute tear at the plate to earn the All-Star nod, and Colome wound up on the DL and leaving his GM to “pray for his buttocks.”

SEEN AND HEARD AT NATIONALS PARK

Top union officials (including chief Don Fehr and ex-players Bobby Bonilla and Steve Rogers) were at the ballpark yesterday, in part to meet with the Nationals and help them select a new player representative for the 2008-2009 term. Ryan Zimmerman has been the club’s union rep since last summer but now will hand over the reins to reliever Jon Rauch. John Lannan will be the team’s assistant rep. As Zimmerman put it, it’s easier for pitchers to hold the role because they have more free time to deal with daily issues than everyday position players.

Mark Zuckerman

QUOTABLE

“We believe five years from now, when Lastings is 28, we’ll look back and say in the long run the Nats got the best of it. And in the short run the Mets did.”

— General manager Jim Bowden on last winter’s trade of Ryan Church and Brian Schneider to New York for Lastings Milledge

TOMORROW’S GAME

Brewers RHP Jeff Suppan Record, ERA: 2-3, 4.78

Nationals LHP Odalis Perez Record, ERA: 1-4, 4.34

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