- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PHILADELPHIA — The Washington Nationals’ left field job is open again, and Robert Fick hopes to take it.

Fick, a veteran utilityman, started as the Nationals’ left fielder last night for the second time in three games.

In his second season with the Nationals, Fick has been used primarily as a bench player. The 33-year-old sees this an opportunity to become an everyday player again.

“Yeah, at least on a platoon basis, or whatever it turns out to be,” said Fick, who batted seventh and entered last night’s game hitting .158 with two RBI. “I know I’m a bench player on this team. I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself, but I sure would like to play there a lot.”

Manager Manny Acta has started Chris Snelling (nine games), Kory Casto (six games), Michael Restovich (three games), and Ryan Church (one game) in left field this season.

Casto has been sent down to Class AAA Columbus to play regularly and learn the position.

Snelling, meanwhile, has watched his batting average drop to .233 and is hitting just .200 with runners in scoring position.

Acta said he started Fick against Phillies right-hander Jon Lieber last night because Fick is 4-for-13 lifetime against him.

“It’s a good matchup with Lieber,” Acta said. “We’re still searching over there.”

Fick, an American League All-Star in 2002, said he hopes a few starts turns into more.

“They’re going to give me a little bit of an opportunity,” Fick said. “The other guys have had their opportunity, and nobody has done bad, but nobody has taken the bull by the horns.”

Zimmerman’s glove

In the Nationals’ three seasons, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has the team’s most famous defensive play — an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow left field, parallel to the ground with his back to the infield to rob Atlanta’s Pete Orr of a hit.

But through the first 20 games of the season, the usually sure-handed Zimmerman has five errors.

Tuesday night, Zimmerman was charged with his fifth error of the season when Ryan Church’s outfield throw took a bad bounce and skipped through his legs.

Despite Zimmerman’s errors, Acta said it’s not time to panic.

“Zimmerman is going to be fine,” Acta said. “He made some good plays yesterday also. It was a very kind of bizarre type of play. That throw from the outfield, he tried to throw the ball over to second or something, instead of just blocking it. But, I’m not concerned about him. His footwork and everything is fine. Just because he has those errors right now, he could easily go a month without making another one.”

King’s assignment

Left-handed reliever Ray King will make a minor league rehab assignment, pitching the first inning for the Class AA Harrisburg Senators at the Reading Phillies today.

King was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 12 with left shoulder tendinitis and is eligible to come off the disabled list tomorrow.

Injury update

Center fielder Nook Logan (foot) is tentatively scheduled to play three innings in an extended spring game Monday. Shortstop Cristian Guzman (hamstring) ran the bases yesterday at full speed for the first time since his Opening Day injury.

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