UPDATE: Guzman took the decision in stride and told Ladson that he is “willing to do anything the Nats ask of him.” He will not demand a trade.
SATURDAY, 10:41pm: MLB.com’s Bill Ladson passes along some refreshing news out of Nationals camp. According to team sources, 24-year-old prospect Ian Desmond has captured the club’s Opening Day shortstop gig from Cristian Guzman.
Desmond, a third-round pick in 2007, has moved swiftly through the Nats’ farm system. He posted a .330/.401/.477 batting line last season with seven homers, 32 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 394 plate appearances between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.
We’re sure to see some rough patches from Desmond, who hasn’t appeared in more than 25 major league games, but manager Jim Riggleman has been praising the youngster all spring and obviously has faith that he will adjust to full-time big league life with little effort. Guzman will probably be relegated to a utility infield role, or perhaps Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo will attempt a trade. The 32-year-old hit an ugly .284/.306/.390 last season with six home runs and 52 RBI in 531 at-bats. He’s been dealing with a balky shoulder for most of spring training.
Indians slugger Carlos Santana hasn’t played in the outfield in a major league game since 2012, but the Indians are strongly considering starting him in left field for Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field on Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. As the game is hosted in a National League park, there is no DH rule in effect, so the Indians might otherwise have to keep Santana on the bench.
Santana is hitless in six at-bats in the World Series thus far, but he has drawn two walks. He has overall not had a great postseason, carrying an aggregate .564 OPS in 40 plate appearances since the beginning of the playoffs. Still, during the regular season, he had an .865 OPS so he can certainly be a threat on offense at any given moment.
Earlier, Craig asked if Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber would play the outfield now that the World Series has come to Chicago, where there will be no DH. The answer to that is no, it appears. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said that Schwarber has not been medically cleared to play the outfield, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Schwarber returned to the Cubs sooner than expected after suffering a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg during an early April collision with teammate Dexter Fowler in Arizona. In preparation to join the Cubs for the World Series, Schwarber went to the Arizona Fall League and reportedly saw over 1,000 pitches from machines as well as Single-A pitchers. He doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat as he went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double (that was very nearly a home run) in Game 1, then drew a walk and hit two RBI singles in five plate appearances in Game 2.
At least right now, however, it appears Schwarber will serve as a bat off the bench for Games 3, 4, and 5 until he gets medical clearance.