- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 28, 2007

Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta’s philosophy once shortstop Cristian Guzman comes off the disabled list has been: “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

That bridge may be on the horizon.

When Guzman injured his hamstring on Opening Day, Acta moved second baseman Felipe Lopez to shortstop and inserted Ronnie Belliard at second. The duo has thrived both offensively and defensively.

Guzman is close — perhaps a week away — to being activated. When Guzman is activated, he may start at short and move Lopez back to second.

“I’m not really thinking about it, I’m just concentrating each day as it comes,” Lopez said. “When it happens, I’ll deal with it then.”

Guzman played shortstop for the first time in an extended spring game yesterday. At the Nationals extended spring camp Thursday, Guzman ran the bases full speed for the first time.

“Guzman did play three innings and had two at-bats today [going 0-for-2] and felt good after the game,” Acta said. “We’re going to stretch him out five innings, day off, seven, nine [innings].”

No real advantage

Acta should know the tendencies of the New York Mets hitters, since he was their third base coach for the past two seasons and pitched batting practice to their All-Star hitters.

But Acta said there is no real advantage to managing against his former team.

“That only goes so far,” Acta said. “Every day, every series, you do have advanced scouting meetings over guys. Still, the guy has to execute and throw the ball where you need to throw it. If they don’t throw it there, they’re going to get hurt, regardless of what I say. I was there and I know some of those guys, but those guys, just like our guys, they watch videos constantly about our pitchers as we do about their pitchers. They adjust. That’s why they are big league hitters.”

Logan gets closer

The team’s left field by committee will be coming to an end once center fielder Nook Logan (foot) is activated off the 15-day disabled list.

Logan, who strained his left foot on Opening Day, will play three innings in an extended spring game Monday. The Nationals have used five left fielders since Logan was injured because Ryan Church was moved to center with Logan out.

Chris Snelling (nine games), Kory Casto (six games), Michael Restovich (five games), Robert Fick (two games) and Church (one game) have all started in left.

“We’re about a week away from Logan coming over here,” Acta said. “We’ll basically go back to normal.”

Rehab time

In his first rehab start for the Class AAA Columbus Clippers last night, Jason Simontacchi allowed just one run on eight hits and no walks in five innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The right-hander threw 73 pitches, 49 for strikes.

Injured setup man Luis Ayala threw two innings (24 pitches) and struck out four in an extended spring game. According to a team official, Ayala’s fastball reached 90 mph.

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