- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals made four more roster moves yesterday, reducing the roster size to 52 players.

Right-handers Jermaine Van Buren and Brett Campbell were optioned to Class AAA Columbus, and outfielder Darnell McDonald and left-hander Chris Michalak were reassigned to the club’s minor league camp.

The Michalak move was perhaps the biggest surprise because he looked OK in his last outing Sunday in Vero Beach, Fla., against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“The reason was that I ran out of innings and hadn’t separated myself from everybody else,” Michalak said.

Michalak, who allowed just two earned runs in 52/3 innings this spring, met with manager Manny Acta for approximately 45 minutes before yesterday’s workout and didn’t take his demotion particularly well.

“Obviously, I’m not happy with the decision. But I’ve got to deal with it,” Michalak said. “It’s not my first rodeo so …”

Still, none of the moves was totally unexpected. Campbell did not appear in a Grapefruit League game this spring. Van Buren allowed two runs in three innings and surrendered back-to-back base hits Sunday, including Larry Bigbie’s game-winning single, in the Dodgers’ 10-9 comeback victory.

McDonald was batting .100 with one hit in 10 at-bats. His lone hit in the Grapefruit League was a home run.

Acta said he reassigned Michalak, 36, because he sees him as more of a specialist.

“We have way too many guys competing,” Acta said. “I think we gave him a fair shot. I see him as a left-handed specialist type of guy at this stage of his career. We just don’t see it in our plans for him starting it up here.”

Guzman set to take field

Shortstop Cristian Guzman will play in the field for the first time tomorrow against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

Guzman, who has been bothered by tendinitis in his surgically repaired right shoulder, is expected to play five innings at shortstop. Guzman has played five innings twice in the club’s accelerated minor league camp and has served as the Nationals’ designated hitter in five Grapefruit League games, recording two hits in 11 at-bats.

“Yes, I’m very anxious to see him,” Acta said. “I love the enthusiasm that he’s been showing and swinging the bat so good. I’m anxious to see him. The guy hasn’t played in over a year.”

Patterson will rest

With Acta giving his players the day off today, ace John Patterson’s next scheduled throwing session will be Sunday against the Florida Marlins at Space Coast Stadium.

Patterson was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today, but with the off day he will be pushed back another five days in order to be ready for Opening Day on April 2 at RFK Stadium.

“He’s right on target. We’re in no rush on John,” Acta said.

The rotation for the next two days is set. Right-hander Jason Simontacchi will start tomorrow’s game against the Cardinals and will be followed by right-hander Levale Speigner. In Thursday’s split-squad games, left-hander Matt Chico will start the home split-squad game against the Detroit Tigers, with Tim Redding pitching afterward. Right-hander Jason Bergmann will start the road split-squad game against the Dodgers in Vero Beach.

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