"I did not want to repeat myself," Acta said. "I wanted to cover some of the
stuff the pitchers had no business hearing, like how we finished dead last
in defense and first in caught stealing -- stuff we want to get better at."
Acta also went over the dress code and how the music should be played in the
clubhouse. No earrings are allowed on the field and players cannot wear
their hats backwards, but they are allowed to wear jeans as long as they
have a sport coat, decent shirt and shoes on the road.
Acta also told his players to play the music softly in the clubhouse before
games, but they can blast it after a victory.
"As far as the music thing, I don't want Austin Kearns to force his country
music on Beltran Perez, and I don't want Beltran Perez to force his merengue
on Austin Kearns," Acta said. "We don't need to have that loud music all the time."
The Nationals then had their first full-squad workouts, and Acta was very
active. He was hitting fungoes and participating in infield drills. He was
seen giving tips to Ryan Zimmerman on how to cover third base on a bunt play
and telling his players to never rush the throw on a bunt.
"I'm too young to be standing on the sidelines," Acta said. "Also, this is
my first job. I have to make sure that things are done the way I want it
done. I do trust my coaching staff. I'm lucky that [general manager] Jim
Bowden and the Nationals allowed me to bring the people I wanted to bring
over here. Still, I need to be there and make sure that things are done the
way they need to be done."
Right-hander John Patterson said seeing Acta work on the field motivated the
players even more. He said the last manager he saw working with the players
on the field was Don Wakamatsu when both were in the Diamondbacks
"That is something new, isn't it?" Patterson said. "It brings a lot of energy. I think it put
smiles on everybody's face. When your manager is working with you, it
inspires you to work even harder. When you have a manager
like that, it doesn't feel like a player/coach relationship. It feels like
you are all out there together. I think it's really going to help bring this
Injury report: Shortstop Cristian Guzman had an MRI exam on Monday on his
right shoulder and it revealed that he has tendinitis, but the condition is
not considered serious.
Guzman, who missed all of the 2006 season because of surgery on the shoulder,
reported to camp on Sunday saying that that the joint was not 100
Dr. Benjamin Shaffer, the Nationals' physician and orthopedist, said he
hopes that Guzman can start throwing from 60 feet by Friday. Schaffer would
not predict if Guzman would be ready to play in the first exhibition game on
March 2 against the Dodgers.
"The shoulder is structurally sound, and the slap lesion that was repaired
has healed," Shaffer said.
Guzman acknowledged that he was a little disappointed, but feels that he'll be
ready for Opening Day against the Marlins.
"It's a little frustrating, but I think everything will be OK," Guzman said.
Welcome to Viera: Second baseman Ronnie Belliard arrived at Space Coast
Stadium at 2:30 p.m. ET. Belliard had his suitcase and Cardinals bag with
him when he was greeted by reporters in the lobby. His arrival comes two
days after signing a one-year Minor League contract with the Nationals.
Belliard, however, dodged the question about St. Louis resident George
Edwards trying to extort money from him. The St. Louis Post Dispatch said
that Edwards tried to get $150,000 from Belliard in order to keep quiet
about an extramarital affair Belliard allegedly had with his daughter.
"I just got here," Belliard said after arriving from the Dominican Republic. "Maybe later on, you ask me that same question, I will give
you an answer. I just got off the plane and had a 45-minute drive."
Belliard is familiar with Acta. The two worked together for the Licey
Tigers in the Dominican Winter League, with Acta as the manager and Belliard as the everyday third baseman.
It was Acta who told the new member of the Nationals that he would back up Zimmerman and second baseman Felipe Lopez. Belliard said
he could also play shortstop when needed.
"I talked to Manny," Belliard said. "I can play third, short and second. I will help the team
do anything. I know the deal. That's why I came down."
Belliard is coming off a season in which he hit a combined .272 with 13 home
runs and 67 RBIs with Cleveland and St. Louis. He was instrumental in the Cardinals' postseason run to
the World Series. Belliard made $4 million last season.
It is believed that he was looking for a three-year deal, but Belliard found
himself on the free-agent market until Sunday. If he makes the team,
Belliard will earn $750,000 and could make more with incentives.
"I was surprised [about not signing sooner], but, hey, this is baseball and
I want to play baseball," he said. "It's a young team. I know Manny Acta, I
know [Jose] Rijo. I know a lot of guys in here."
Tiger response: Manager Jim Leyland was not happy to hear Dmitri
Young say that the Tigers did not stand by him during his troubled season in
On Monday, Young said the Tigers should not have given him his unconditional
release last September. He said he was solid citizen prior to 2006 and that
the Tigers should have stood by him. Young was hitting .250 with seven home
runs and 23 RBIs at the time of his release.
"Dmitri Young was not an asset to our ballclub on the field last year, and
he also needed to take care of some very important issues for the welfare of
Dmitri Young," Leyland told reporters on Tuesday. "And you can hold me totally responsible for the dismissal of
Dmitri Young. Don't put it on the organization. Don't put it on anybody
else. I did not feel that Dmitri's performance on the field
was an asset to this organization, and it broke my heart.
"We wanted a left-handed hitter all year. Dmitri Young was a guy that I was
counting on. The part that upsets me is this guy missed a lot of the season
taking care of a problem that he created, not that the Tigers created. So
[his comments are] very disappointing to me."
Arbitration matters: Closer Chad Cordero had his arbitration hearing on Tuesday afternoon. Cordero is looking for a $4.15 million payday, while Washington
is offering him $3.65 million. The verdict most likely will not be announced
Welcome back: Third baseman Tony Batista, who was invited to Spring
Training last week, said he returned to the Nationals organization because
he remembered how well he was treated when he was a member of the Expos in
2004. That year, he hit .241 with 32 home runs and 110 RBIs.
'They gave me an opportunity to come back to the United States," he said. "I want a lot
of people to see me so I can make it to the Major League level."
Batista played with the Twins last season, but was released in June. He went
back to the Dominican Republic and played winter ball.
Quote of the day: "Let's be honest: I'm pretty popular and nice right
now. In a few days, I know some guys are going to change their opinion about
me." -- Acta
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