- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2008

There’s little that a new set of uniforms possibly could do to improve the Washington Nationals‘ on-field performance next season, other than to perhaps pad the team’s bottom line by selling a few more replicas. But that won’t stop the Nationals from switching their look for 2009.

The team unveiled its new jerseys to the public Thursday at ESPN Zone, with manager Manny Acta and center fielder Lastings Milledge modeling the updated look for fans.

“I’d rather win than lose regardless of how I look in a uniform. I’m already married with children like Al Bundy anyways,” Acta joked. “But I know that for the young guys, it’s very important. Everybody wants to look good.”

The biggest change comes in the team’s road uniforms, where the word “Washington” will be in red script instead of blue block lettering. The Nationals also introduced a blue alternate jersey that will be worn July 4, Sept. 10 and on days when the team is holding military appreciation events.

The team’s home uniforms and red alternate jerseys remain relatively unchanged, the biggest alteration being the replacement of the interlocking “DC” logo on the alternate uniforms with the team’s curly W. The Nationals Park inaugural season patch is also gone from the right sleeve, and the interlocking “DC” has been simplified on the left sleeve.

Injury updates

Acta said two of the players who spent much of last season on the disabled list - first baseman Nick Johnson and right-handed pitcher Shawn Hill - are both making progress toward being ready for spring training.

Johnson, whose season ended in mid-May after he tore the tendon sheath in his right wrist, has been swinging a bat underwater and will be able to start hitting off a tee in a week. Hill is scheduled to begin a throwing program after visiting Dr. James Andrews. He battled forearm and elbow soreness through much of the season and was shut down in September after a setback derailed his chance to return as a member of Washington’s bullpen.

Riggleman no guarantee

New bench coach Jim Riggleman, who finished last season as the Mariners’ interim manager, is still a candidate for the permanent job in Seattle.

If he is Seattle’s choice, Acta said the Nationals wouldn’t stand in Riggleman’s way.

“We’re open to it,” Acta said. “I think everybody in baseball knows that whenever you have an opportunity to have a better job, nobody’s going to deny you.”

Riggleman, 55, has eight years of major league managerial experience, including his stint last season with the Mariners.

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