- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

NORFOLK — Not only is Nook Logan a fast runner, he’s a fast healer.

A week ago, Logan did the splits while making a wide turn around first base and injured his right groin against the St. Louis Cardinals in a Grapefruit League game. Logan limped slowly off the field and it didn’t look promising for the Washington Nationals’ projected starting center fielder playing on Opening Day.

Yesterday, Logan started in center field and played three innings. He came out of the game pain-free and will have his playing time extended today in the final exhibition game today at RFK Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles.

“I’m feeling good, it was a positive day, no pain, no nothing,” Logan said. “Actually, it’s been feeling good the last couple of days. They just wanted to wait a while and didn’t want to rush anything and put me in a game after I did a lot of stuff.”

Logan batted second in the order, drew a walk off Orioles starter Jaret Wright in his first at-bat and grounded out to first in the third inning. Logan was forced to run hard to first and his groin was tested. Nationals manager Manny Acta said that Logan will play more than three innings today.

“I think he’s ready to go,” Acta said. “He could run with freedom and didn’t pace himself or anything. He’s ready to go. He’ll go out there tomorrow for six or seven innings.”

With Logan healthy enough to play, outfielder Kory Casto — who had the game-tying single Thursday against the Orioles in Columbus, Ohio — probably will open the season at Class AAA Columbus. Casto enters today’s final exhibition game batting .292.

“It is what it is,” Casto said. “I came up here and did what I wanted to do and I’ll go down there and keep working hard. They know that I can hit at this level and play defense at a couple different positions. It’s just a matter of going down there and waiting my turn.”

Casto, who is the franchise’s reigning two-time minor league player of the year, has never played in Class AAA.

Casto spent all of last season at Class AA Harrisburg, where he hit .272 with 20 home runs and 80 RBI.

Coming into spring training, Casto was given an opportunity to compete for the vacant left fielder’s job and performed admirably. Casto pushed both Chris Snelling and Ryan Church during this camp. In short, Casto was a strong competitor.

“That’s just part of my nature,” Casto said. “I’m going to go out every day and work as hard as I can. I guess it kind of helps those guys too because if I’m pushing myself harder it kind of makes other people do that. We had a lot of fun out there too, all those guys, and I got to know those guys a lot better. It was a lot of fun for me.”

Meanwhile, Acta wishes Logan’s groin had been tested a little more, but it will have to do with Opening Day on Monday against the Florida Marlins at RFK Stadium.

“He hit that ground ball where he had to run hard to first base,” Acta said. “Those are the type of plays where you hope it happens where guys don’t have to be thinking whether they are going to run or not. He hits a ball and takes off from the batter’s box and he didn’t hesitate. That tells me a lot.”

With Casto apparently heading to Columbus, the Nationals will have to make one more roster move by Opening Day. The final roster move will probably come from the team’s bullpen. Right-hander Saul Rivera appears to be the leading candidate to be sent down unless something unexpected happens.

“We have probably a reliever to send down,” Acta said. “We’re going to make the last two cuts today, at least the decision will be made today. We’ll probably not announce it today. We have to go over it. Me and [general manager Jim Bowden] have to talk about it and we’ll go from there.”

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