MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Rizzo has faith in Taylor's ability to handle CF

Nats GM seeking OF depth, but appears to have his starter; Papelbon, Storen not on trade block

Rizzo has faith in Taylor's ability to handle CF

WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday he doesn't need to acquire a starting center fielder, demonstrating complete confidence in Michael Taylor to handle the job.

Rizzo said he is looking for outfield depth, but he is satisfied with the talent he has on the roster. He pointed out that Taylor, who hit .317 with three homers and 47 RBIs with runners in scoring position last season, was at his best in big-game situations. Taylor had a .229 batting average overall, but played great defense in center field.

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"I love Michael Taylor. I love him in center field," Rizzo said. "I think he will improve from last year. He was probably three or four months ahead of schedule and was forced into an everyday role that he wasn't prepared for developmentally. As the season wore on, he got better and better each and every month.

"When the pressure was the biggest, Taylor performed at his best. This guy got as many big hits for us as anybody on the ballclub last year. I have very high hopes for Michael Taylor. He is a guy we really like."

As far as relievers Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen are concerned, Rizzo doesn't seem to be in a rush to trade either of them.

"If there is a trade that makes sense, we would make it," Rizzo said. "We are not going to trade anybody to move a player, because we like both of them. We think they are both talented relievers. Both of them on our team makes our bullpen better."

Former Nationals center fielder Denard Span found a new home Thursday, agreeing to a three-year contract with the Giants.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.