The Nats get smart: they move Guzman to second and seek a glove for short

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The Nationals have made a lot of smart moves since tossing Jim Bowden over the side last year. Giving the reins to Mike Rizzo is one. Setting aside their Boras-phobia and paying for Strasburg was another.  Sticking with Jim Riggleman was the right move in my mind as well. 

The latest?  Making it clear that Cristian Guzman is not their shortstop anymore.  They’re going to stick him at second, Riggleman said yesterday, and it’s the smart way to go.  Any young, building team (there is no “re” about it in their case) needs solid defense in order to get the young pitching staff through their inevitable early struggles.  The classic example of this is the Braves chucking any hope at offense and putting Rafael Belliard at short back in 1991. The Nats aren’t there yet — this is still very much like the 1988-89 Braves we’re dealing with here — but if the Nats put a solid glove at short next to the Gold Glove-winning Ryan Zimmerman, they’ll really be doing themselves — and their pitchers — a favor.

So who goes to short?  Rosenthal reports that Rizzo is looking at Adam Everett and Alex Gonzalez. Riggleman mentions prospect Ian Desmond. Desmond has been described as having excellent range and a great arm, though he has been erratic at times.  He showed some nice hitting skills in his brief callup last year, but if I’m the Nats, any offense I get from short is gravy.

If Everett or Gonzalez can be had on the cheap, sure, plug ’em in on a one-year deal and give Desmond a little more time to ease into things.  If not, just take the plunge with Desmond.

What’s the worst that’ll happen?  The Nats will lose some games?

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.