- The Washington Times - Monday, August 10, 2009

Cristian Guzman is riding a 15-game hitting streak and playing improved defense, both recent developments that make the veteran shortstop more valuable to the Washington Nationals.

But those same developments also make Guzman more attractive to other clubs in need of a shortstop down the stretch, creating a potential dilemma for the Nationals. Do they deal their longest-tenured player now while his value is high or keep him in the fold heading into 2010?

Washington’s front office may face that decision in the next few days after the Boston Globe reported the Red Sox put in a waiver claim for Guzman. It’s unknown whether any other clubs also have tried to claim Guzman - every National League team and 11 other American League teams would have to pass on him for Boston to be awarded the claim - but if it goes through, it would be the Nationals’ move.

Washington could either let the Red Sox acquire Guzman and take on the remainder of his contract (about $2.6 million left this season and $8 million next season), try to negotiate a trade with Boston or pull Guzman back but be unable to put him on waivers again this year.

Club sources indicated Sunday that the Nationals prefer to get something in return for Guzman (who is batting .455 in his past 15 games) and not simply let him walk.

A day of firsts

A pair of Nationals players recorded their first career hits Sunday, each of them special in their own right.

Pinch hitter Jorge Padilla lined a single to right in the sixth, notching his first hit in his third at-bat since getting called up from Class AAA Syracuse on Wednesday. The 29-year-old outfielder, who spent 12 seasons in the minors before finally setting foot on a big league field, was ecstatic to get that moment out of the way at last.

“I’m not going to lie - I was torturing myself when I got home at night thinking, ‘When am I going to get a hit?’ ” Padilla said. “Thank God today I finally got it. It was unbelievable, like a dream come true right there. That’s what I was waiting for all my life.”

Pitcher J.D. Martin also got his first hit, a second-inning single to left. The rookie right-hander was less enthusiastic about his offensive feat than in earning his first big league victory.

“But it feels awesome to get a hit,” he admitted.

Ex-Virginia star stays hot

The Nationals managed not to let Mark Reynolds’ massive power stroke damage them too badly over the weekend, but the Diamondbacks’ third baseman (and former University of Virginia slugger) did put on a show.

Reynolds clubbed a homer in all three games of the series, continuing his torrid streak at the plate. In his past 13 games, he has hit 11 balls out of the park, and his 36 homers are tied with Albert Pujols for the major league lead.

“Maybe I was a little disappointed I didn’t make the All-Star team and I’m trying to prove myself as a big leaguer,” Reynolds said. “I took those four days and did nothing, and it kind of recharged me a little bit.”

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