A couple quick updates on the Nationals' quasi-battle for the starting shortstop job. I say quasi-battle because Cristian Guzman is still expected to be the guy, but his shoulder isn't quite up to full strength, and Ian Desmond is doing his best to make things interesting.
Guzman went back to D.C. to be with his wife, who is about to give birth to a baby girl, and is expected back in Nationals camp in the next few days. Riggleman estimated Guzman's shoulder is at about 90 percent strength, and said the shortstop has looked a little tentative in games.
"He's a little concerned to air it out, and he hasn't had any plays where he's had to air it out," Riggleman said. "Guzie wants to play, and he is playing, and he says, 'Oh, I'm fine.' But my guess is he's probably at about 90 percent."
Desmond, meanwhile, has hit .563 with a homer and nine RBI in his first six spring games. He would be the top alternative if Guzman isn't able to go.
But Desmond has also shown improvement in the outfield, to the point where Riggleman said he looks completely comfortable there. He is starting at shortstop today, but has played right field a number of times this spring.
If the Nationals aren't concerned about Guzman -- and they say they're not -- they could look at Desmond more as a utility player, after all. Once Guzman's daughter is born and he returns to camp, they expect him to keep progressing toward Opening Day.
"He's throwing pain-free without any restrictions," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "Every day, he's doing his long-toss program and throwing program to strengthen the arm. The no pain thing is the happy point for me, because he's throwing free and easy."