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Strasburg, Livo, Olsen and shortstops

Mar 19, 2010, 8:23 PM EST

VIERA, Fla. — Plenty of news nuggets to share as the Nationals prepare to host the Cardinals tonight at Space Coast Stadium, so let's get right to them…

Stephen Strasburg obviously starts tonight, and I detailed yesterday why this figures to be his final appearance in a big-league game this spring, but here's more evidence of that likelihood: Livan Hernandez will start Wednesday against the Yankees in Tampa. Hernandez has been pitching on the same day as Strasburg all spring and this morning allowed three hits over four innings in a minor-league game. As manager Jim Riggleman pointed out, Livo needs to start facing major-league hitters and be stretched out over five-plus innings. So he gets the nod next week against the Yankees. What does that mean for Strasburg? Well, Riggleman, Mike Rizzo and other front office members plan to meet tomorrow morning to discuss the next round of cuts, which are expected to start taking place Monday. What does that mean for Strasburg? "That'll be one of the discussions we have, for sure," Riggleman said.

Scott Olsen pitched in a minor-league game yesterday, and though his surgically repaired left shoulder experienced no pain, his velocity still isn't all the way back where he or the club would like. Olsen's fastball was in the 86 mph range. He's yet to hit 90 mph this spring, probably the best sign of his full recovery. With 17 days to go before Opening Day, is there a chance Olsen won't be ready for the regular season? "Yeah, I think that's possible," Riggleman said. "But he does have at least two more starts. I'm going on the assumption that he keeps making progress. Because he's got time, I'm going on the assumption that we'll see enough in that arm that he and we feel he's ready."

Ian Desmond is starting at shortstop tonight, but Cristian Guzman will start tomorrow against the Marlins. This remains one of this camp's most-pressing storylines, and Riggleman admitted today this is an "open competition" between the two. "They're both such goodRead more »

  1. Dave Nichols - Mar 19, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    Mark, i mentioned this over on Ben's blog too: when the Nats officials state that Guzman is such a "good offensive player", is it for impressions sake or do they believe it?Guz is a lifetime .307 on base percentage and .386 slugging. those numbers do not make for a "good offensive player" in fact, much the opposite.

  2. Bill - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    "The Nats want to see Guzman have to go to his right to pick up a grounder in the hole and then cut loose with a throw to first base. He hasn't had to do that yet, but it's an important test of his surgically repaired shoulder."So nobody can hit him some fungoes and see what happens? Why is that impossible?

  3. HabsProf - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    Mark: You told us Olsen only hit 86 in his minor-league game, but how many innings did he go? Did he otherwise pitch well? Was he hit hard?

  4. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 19, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    HabsProf: Olsen went four innings. Didn't get exact game details, but I was told by someone from the club who watched that he looked "OK." Apparently it was really windy on the back fields yesterday, which can wreak havoc on pitchers. I think the point is: Olsen certainly didn't do anything to make anyone get excited.

  5. natscan reduxit - Mar 19, 2010 at 10:41 PM

    … Adam Kennedy may or may not be a good pickup for the Nats. But I am reminded that last year, the management alerted Guzzy to the idea that he might have to move to second. Surely that idea can still be made active, and offer the best solution to this dilemma…. what do you think Mark, would Riggs and Rizzo ever resurrect that one?

  6. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 19, 2010 at 10:45 PM

    Natscan reduxit: There were a rumor a couple weeks ago about that very scenario, but it was quickly refuted. I haven't heard anything lately about that possibility. Sounds like it's either Guzman or Desmond at shortstop. What happens to Guzie if Desmond wins the job? That's a fascinating question.

  7. greg - Mar 19, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    i have to agree with dave. guzman is a one-dimensional hitter (average) and that dimension wasn't all that hot last year.

  8. peric - Mar 19, 2010 at 11:52 PM

    Riggleman is beginning to remind me of Stan Kasten ,,, hey Jim "where's the beef"? It sure as heck IS NOT in your opening day beginning of the spring line ups. And they are still chock full of your favored AAAA players starting … who should be on the bench, rehabbing or in the minors.





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