MIAMI | The Washington Nationals don’t know yet where Cristian Guzman will play in the field in 2010. But they may want him to move to second base for the first time in his career, and that’s why general manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman met with the veteran shortstop Thursday to raise the possibility.
Having determined they need another middle infielder next season, and having determined it may make more sense to acquire a shortstop than a second baseman, the Nationals want Guzman to be prepared for a possible position change.
“It’s just opening a door for conversation,” Rizzo said before Friday night’s game against the Florida Marlins. “We need a middle infielder. A good, everyday middle infielder. [Guzman is] one of the two guys. If what we can get - and makes sense for us - is a shortstop, then we broached the question that he goes to second.”
Guzman, a two-time All-Star who has played shortstop in every one of his 1,264 career games in the field, was blindsided by the request and didn’t have an immediate answer for Rizzo and Riggleman. He declined to comment Friday afternoon when approached by reporters.
Rizzo did say he would be “comfortable” with Guzman at shortstop again next season. The 31-year-old is due to make $8 million in the final season of his contract.
Even if he refuses to make the switch, Guzman may have no choice but to accept it.
“We’ll make the call on that,” Riggleman said. “The player doesn’t make the call on that. That’ll be our call. … It’s about what’s best for the team. And if the best thing for the team is Guzy’s at shortstop because we found another second baseman, that’s the way we go. We’re all human. We consider other people’s feelings, but it’s secondary to what we need to do.”
Guzman will remain at shortstop the rest of this season. But in an effort to get Ian Desmond more playing time, the Nationals may try the rookie at second base or even the outfield in the next three weeks.
Desmond homered and drove in four runs in his big league debut Thursday night.
Young stops by
Dmitri Young said he is recovering well from a torn left quadriceps and is in good health, but the veteran first baseman understands his career may be over.
Young, who lives in South Florida, stopped by the Nationals’ clubhouse Friday to chat with teammates and watch them face the Marlins. Since suffering the injury in July while on rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg, the 35-year-old has done extensive physical therapy and bike riding to get himself back into shape.
Young, though, said his motivation isn’t necessarily to get into condition to attempt to play baseball next year.
“Right now, I’m not even thinking about it,” he said. “I’m just here right now just to heal up and clear my head on everything. And then [in the] offseason, we’ll see.”