Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta benched Felipe Lopez yesterday after he did not run out a ground ball to second base in the fifth inning.
Lopez made the final out in the fifth and then Ronnie Belliard replaced him at second base to start the sixth inning.
“It has been made clear here,” Acta said. “I like Felipe. I love Felipe. I’ve known him longer than any player in this locker room. I’ve known Felipe since he was 12 years old. That being said, he is under everyone else’s rules.”
This is the second time this season Acta has pulled a player from a game because of a lack of hustle. Ryan Church did not run out a ground ball in the second inning April 22 in Miami and did not take the field in the bottom half of the inning against the Marlins.
“We don’t have a team with a $150 million payroll and we don’t have a team loaded with superstars, so we’re going to play hard,” Acta said. “We’re going to play hard, we’re going to play right and we’re probably going to have to out-hustle the opposition.”
Lopez declined to comment to reporters in the clubhouse after the game.
Switch-hitting center fielder Nook Logan has been struggling mightily against right-handed pitching, so Acta decided Tuesday it was time to platoon him with lefty Ryan Langerhans.
Logan went one step further Wednesday and decided it was time to end his switch-hitting experiment and concentrate on hitting from the right side.
“The announcement came about the platoon with Langerhans and I wasn’t going to get many at-bats [left-handed] anyway. I just haven’t been comfortable up there,” Logan said. “You get frustrated. There are pitches you usually hit that you foul off or pitches you usually swing at that you take.”
He is hitting .239 this season in 71 at-bats, but his splits are dramatic. Logan is 10-for-34 (.294) against left-handers but is just 7-for-37 (.189) with 13 strikeouts against righties.
Langerhans isn’t hitting very well against anybody (.158 with one home run), but he does boast 13 walks against right-handed pitchers.
Logan wasn’t always a switch-hitter. He hit exclusively from the right side at Natchez (Miss.) High School and at Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College, and after joining the Detroit organization as a third-round pick in 2000 he started to hit left-handed to make better use of his elite speed.
He stood in against right-hander John Patterson before Wednesday’s game and told Acta before the game that he would bat from the right side against a righty that night if the situation presented itself. Logan mentioned two players — Rockies center fielder Willy Taveras and Cubs utility man Ryan Theriot — as examples of players who stopped switch-hitting with success at the major league level.
Wagner facing long rehab
With his right arm hanging in a sling, right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Wagner returned to the Nationals clubhouse yesterday after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. James Andrews performed the procedure Tuesday, and Wagner is set to begin a long rehabilitation process.
Wagner was a first-round pick by Cincinnati (and then general manager Jim Bowden) in 2003 and made 17 appearances for the Reds that summer. But he has had problems staying healthy, and this injury likely will keep him sidelined for 12 months.
It will be four months until he is able to throw and then Wagner will begin a four-month tossing program before more rigorous rehab. While many pitchers have come back from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery as well or better than before, a smaller percentage of hurlers have completely recovered from a torn rotator cuff.
“If I can’t throw from that arm slot then there is no reason for me to play,” Wagner said. “That is who I am. If I have to change that then I will have to change into something different than what I am.”
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