The Washington Times - May 21, 2009, 03:40PM

There’s been a lot of talk and criticism out there about the Nationals’ wretched play in the field this season, and deservedly so. Washington has committed 43 errors in 40 games, by far the most in baseball.

So who’s to blame?


Many of you are pointing your fingers at the coaching staff. You can’t believe Manny Acta doesn’t make his team take infield before every game and that these guys never work on their defense.

Let’s clear a couple of things up…

1. Not a single one of the 30 major-league clubs takes traditional “infield” anymore. I’m talking about the time-honored practice of sending your starting eight position players out after batting practice, about 30 minutes before first pitch, hitting grounders to each of them and having each make a throw to each base. No one has done that in years.

The Nationals do run extensive fielding drills on a daily basis. Every day during BP, coaches hit grounders to every infielder, and every outfielder takes fly balls. On some occasions (such as yesterday), Acta takes the entire team out before BP and runs through full-squad defensive drills.

2. Every day during spring training, these guys work on defense. Not some of the days. Not most of the days. Every day.

Acta was asked last night about the criticism he and his staff have taken for the team’s defensive woes. As you can see, he got a bit defensive.

“I think all of you guys are witnesses here,” Acta said. “If we’re not doing anything, it should go on me and our coaching staff, but I think you guys come to the ballpark early enough. These guys, they work hard on everything. It’s just too bad, because it reflects on us, the coaching staff, and these guys are not defensively getting it done.”