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Washington Nationals Beat New York Mets, 9-3; Cristian Guzman In Right; Keith Olbermann On The Nats?

On a day that began with the Washington Nationals announcing that Willy Taveras would be part of a right field platoon this season along with Willie Harris, (the two together having played a combined total of 11.0 major league innings at the position), and ended with Cristian Guzman (who just a few days ago was recovering from shoulder surgery) out in right field for some reason, the Washington Nationals also managed to beat the New York Mets in a game that saw Jason Marquis give his best performance of the Spring while Josh Willingham launched his 5th Grapefruit League HR and the Nats took advantage of Mets' starter John Maine's stomach distress to put up the 4 runs on 6 hits they'd need in the 9-3 win over New York. 

• Miss The Game? Check Out Today's GameThread.

BACKPAGE:

• Quick Game Recap.

• Riggleman Explains.

• Keith Olbermann On The Nats.

BACKPAGE:

• Quick Game Recap.

Jason Marquis matched his Spring K total today with 4 in 5.0 IP, over which the 31-year-old right-hander gave up 6 hits and 3 ER, two of them on a two-run HR by "All or Nothing" Mike Jacobs, that put the Mets up 3-1 after three innings this afternoon. Josh Willingham's HR off Maine in the fourth, which was compounded by the walk to Adam Dunn in the at bat before Hammer went deep, got the Nationals back in the game, and the Nats took the lead in the top of the next frame when Ryan Zimmerman, Dunn and Willingham followed a two-out walk to Willie Harris with three straight hits, a single, RBI fly to right, and run-scoring ground-rule double, respectively, to put the Nationals up 4-3 at the end of the fifth. In the sixth, it was Ian Desmond with a one-out walk, Michael Burgess with an RBI double and Nyjer Morgan with a run-scoring single, who put Washington comfortably ahead 7-3, before the Nationals added two more with Burgess, again, and Cristian Guzman driving in runs on Burgess' sac fly and Guzman's RBI groundout. 9-3 Nationals is how the next to next to last Spring Training game ends....Oh, and it ended with Cristian Guzman in right field...WT•?

• Riggleman Explains.

Cristian Guzman, whose shoulder was thought to be so weak as to be of concern when he was throwing from short to any of the possible locations around the infield he would need to in the course of a game, was out in right field for the bottom of the ninth this afternoon so that Pedro Lopez could stay in the game at second after he'd pinch hit for reliever Sean Burnett in the top of the frame. Guzman told MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats), that, "...it felt like a 'long' inning playing right field in the ninth," but DC Skipper Jim Riggleman told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore, as quoted in an article entitled, "Cristian Guzman, Right Fielder", that, "..the new idea is a means to give Guzman more at-bats and provide the Nationals additional options," which is the same thing Riggleman had considered doing with Ian Desmond before Desmond won the Opening Day job at short, only worse. Unless it was some sort of subtle move to try to get Guzman to admit his shoulder wasn't fit for the the rigors of everyday play, this makes zero sense...The Nationals announced this morning that Willy Taveras had prevailed over Mike Morse to earn a role in a RF platoon with Willie Harris (who combined have played...what already mentioned that?). Morse has all of 16 games played in right in 5 Major League seasons, Roger Bernadina, the other outfield option has played 1 of his 29 Major League games in right...In the Minors, Bernadina's played right in 22 games...Morse? Uh, 4? Thought we were on to something...Willie Harris? 0 games in right in the minors...Taveras? 0....OK, so Riggleman does have a problem...Guzman's not the answer. Do you even have to ask how many games Guzman's played in right?

• Keith Olbermann On The Nats.

MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann examined the NL East in a post on his MLBlog "Baseball Nerd" entitled, "Foul Balls; And 2010 Forecasts: NL East", predicting a fifth place finish for the Washington Nationals, who Mr. Olbermann says made a "superb" decision in awarding the starting spot at short to Ian Desmond, but should follow it up with, "...similar decisions involving Drew Storen and Stephen Strasburg, and maybe new limbs grown by Jordan Zimmermann and Chien-Ming Wang." Ouch. As for the Nationals' decision to retain the "in-house" candidate Jim Riggleman, however, well, Mr. Olbermann is of the opinion that it wasn't necessarily the right choice:

"Also, I think he's a quality individual, but the retention of Jim Riggleman as manager - after ten seasons that have produced only one finish better than third (a weak second for the Cubs in 1998) - makes little sense here. Unless Mike Rizzo is thinking of Pat Listach or Rick Eckstein as a future big league manager, respectability for this club is going to be the time it takes them to swap out Riggleman plus the time it will take to break in his replacement. Why not skip the first step?"

I posted a comment at his Mr. Olbermann's blog quoting a Washington Post article by the former Nats beat writer Chico Harlan entitled, "As a Coach, Listach Wants Low Profile", from March 30, 2009 in which Mr. Harlan said that Cubs' skipper Lou Piniella had described Nats' 3rd Base Coach Pat Listach as, "...as one of the game's rising managerial stars," when he recommended him to former DC GM Jim Bowden...In fact, Mr. Olbermann might be on to something. Mr. Listach is quoted in Mr. Harlan's article talking openly about his managerial aspirations, with Mr. Harlan writing, "Some day, Listach wants to manage," and the former Brewers' and Astros' infielder and outfielder explaining:

"'I'd love to have the opportunity to do it if the situation came,' he said. 'If you look at it, there are only 30 jobs around. Thirty teams in baseball, and there are only 30 first base coaches, 30 third base coaches, and I'm honored to be one of those right now. If the situation arises in the future -- I've got a lot of respect for Manny and [Nationals bench coach] Jim Riggleman, and I'm envious of them. They've managed at the highest level, and that's a great honor.'"

Listach succeeding Riggleman? Could that be Rizzo's plan?