Washington to keep Belliard’s hot bat; Hernandez and Estrada join the Nats

Red Hot Ronnie
Ronnie Belliard has done an outstanding job filling in for the injured Cristian Guzman. In the month of August he’s hitting .440. Last night he collected four hits against the Phillies, including his 300th career double.

Yesterday Guzman took batting practice and he told me he’s probably a day away from being able to play. With Guzman’s return, don’t worry, the red hot bat of Belliard will stay in the lineup. Manny Acta told me last night he’ll have to find a way to keep Belliard in there with the way he’s been playing.

Making Room for Hernandez
Shortstop Anderson Hernandez will be joining the Nats today after clearing waivers, completing the trade that shipped reliever Luis Ayala to the Mets.

Lastings Milledge, who played with Hernandez when he was with the Mets, said he’s a very good defensive middle infielder with a lot of speed.

He also said he’s shown some flashes of a good bat at the plate, although he has been inconsistent offensively. The switch hitter once ranked among the Mets’ top 10 prospects by Baseball America.

Here’s the Pitch
Marco Estrada, a right-handed starter with Columbus, joined the Nationals yesterday to pitch out of the bullpen.

He told me he’s excited for the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues. He said the key to his success this season has been his health. A broken collarbone kept him out in 2006 and shoulder tendonitis contributed to his missed opportunities last season.

Nationals Scouting Director Dana Brown likens him to Anibel Sanchez of the Marlins. He’s got a 90-95 mph fastball and an above average curveball and change-up.