- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NEW YORK | With uncertainty about his job status swirling around Manny Acta since reports first surfaced that the Washington Nationals manager was about to be fired, Acta has maintained his usual sense of calm, saying he doesn’t read or listen to what’s said about him.

But Acta wants to know where he stands in the organization.

He talked with team president Stan Kasten and acting general manager Mike Rizzo after FoxSports.com first reported Acta’s impeding dismissal Saturday. They assured him that day, he said, that the report was inaccurate.

“I spoke to them the same day it came out. It’s a rumor,” Acta said.

Rizzo spoke publicly about the reports for the first time before Tuesday’s game with the Yankees, and while he offered nothing resembling a definitive statement on Acta’s status, he said the front office hasn’t discussed the issue with him.

“It’s certainly uncomfortable with the speculation,” Rizzo said. “Names are being bandied about of replacements, and we haven’t even discussed it with the current manager. He’s still our manager. We support him. And all the reports that happened over the weekend, I don’t know where those reports come from. And there’s not much to comment on reports that there’s no basis to.”

Rizzo said he hasn’t directly commented on “the Manny situation” to players, either.

“They’re cognizant of what’s going on. They realize what’s going on, so it’s not something we have to address to them directly.”

Acta said he has had some players call and ask him about his status. But he hasn’t broached the subject with the team as a whole, and catcher Wil Nieves said the manager has behaved the same way he always does.

“He hasn’t said anything. Those were just rumors, so we don’t pay attention to that,” Nieves said. “Manny’s a great guy who’s always positive. He doesn’t let stuff get to him. We can’t worry about that stuff, because whatever is going to happen is going to happen. He hasn’t shown any emotions or anything, being mad. He’s always positive. He’s always been that, and I guess it’s not going to change.”

Said Acta: “I’ve been here for 2 1/2 years. I don’t have to be communicating with the people upstairs every day. I’m the type of guy that doesn’t need to be patted on the back every day to show up with a good face on.”

Willingham still away

Acta said outfielder Josh Willingham, whose younger brother Jon was killed in a car accident early Saturday, likely will take the full seven days of bereavement leave allowed by baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

“He’s had a few tough days over there,” Acta said.

Rehab updates

Acta said left-hander Scott Olsen, who threw three innings Sunday at Class AAA Syracuse, will have another start to get up to five innings before the Nationals think about bringing him back from the shoulder tendinitis that has kept him on the 15-day DL since May 18.

And first baseman Dmitri Young, who has been out all season with lower-back issues, is still working at the team’s extended spring training complex in Viera, Fla. Rizzo said Young soon could be on a rehab assignment at Syracuse.

What happens after that remains to be seen. Young is making $5 million this season and will become a free agent after the year unless the Nationals decide to release him.

“We’ll have 20 days to figure out where he’s at healthwise and performancewise,” Rizzo said. “We’ll make the decision within 20 days after he starts rehab.”

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