- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ryan Zimmerman hasn’t spent much time pondering his chances of making the All-Star team.

“I wish I was playing better now more than anything - that’s what I’m worried about,” he said.

But the Washington Nationals’ third baseman wouldn’t mind finding out Sunday he has been named to the National League squad for the first time in his career.

“That would be cool to go,” he said.

Unlike past seasons, there is no slam-dunk choice to represent the Nationals at the Midsummer Classic. Chad Cordero and Livan Hernandez (2005), Alfonso Soriano (2006), Dmitri Young (2007) and Cristian Guzman (2008) were logical picks.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t several deserving candidates on the 2009 Nationals, despite their wretched record and overall woes.

Zimmerman has been the front-runner all along, with a strong case built upon his 30-game hitting streak and reputation as the face of the franchise. But he has slumped badly the past month, both at the plate and in the field. He faces steep competition at a position that boasts strong choices in the Mets’ David Wright, the Braves’ Chipper Jones, the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval and the Diamondbacks’ Mark Reynolds.

Guzman, meanwhile, has a .316 average and a built-in reputation as a two-time All-Star working in his favor. He also faces less competition at shortstop, with only the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez and Astros’ Miguel Tejada strongly in the running.

Adam Dunn figures into the discussion as well with 22 homers (tied for third in the NL), 59 RBI (tied for fourth) and 64 walks (tied for the league lead).

“It’s a tough one this year,” manager Manny Acta said. “I think Cristian has been our most consistent hitter the whole year. And I think Zimmerman also deserves a chance to go - not only because of the streak, but his numbers are pretty good compared with the other third basemen. So either one of them, if he goes, it will be nice. Guzman has already gone twice, so I think it would be great if Zim can get in for his first one.”

Bergmann replaces Colome

The Nationals’ ever-changing bullpen underwent another makeup following Saturday’s game. Washington designated Jesus Colome for assignment and recalled Jason Bergmann from Class AAA Syracuse.

Colome’s removal from the roster had seemed inevitable for some time. The right-hander, 31, had an 8.40 ERA in 16 appearances and Friday night turned a tie game into a three-run deficit by issuing two walks and serving up a three-run homer to Braves rookie Brooks Conrad.

The Nationals have 10 days to trade Colome, pass him through waivers or release him.

Bergmann returns for his third stint with Washington this season. The 27-year-old had a 6.91 ERA in 14 big league games but had a 1.16 ERA at Syracuse and had not allowed a run in seven relief outings since his most recent demotion.

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