Notes: Church sliding, Snelling soaring

Notes: Church sliding, Snelling soaring

VIERA, Fla. -- Outfielder Ryan Church acknowledged on Monday that he read Nationals general manager Jim Bowden's comments about Chris Snelling competing with Church for the starting left-field job.

For most of the spring, manager Manny Acta said that Church was going to start in left field no matter what kind of spring he had. But not only is Church fighting for a job, he is now in a 7-for-40 slump, while Snelling leads the team in home runs and RBIs, and had another fine game Monday against the Dodgers, going 1-for-1 and three walks.

Asked if Bowden was sending him a wakeup call, Church said, "I already know that I'm in a slump. I don't have to be told more than once."

Church, who went 0-for-3 against Los Angeles, said he was frustrated by his lack of production.

"It's a couple of weeks before we go [up north]," he said. "I spent the first two weeks of hitting the wrong way, so it was two weeks down the drain. I feel confident, and I'm back to where I want to be. Batting practice has been good. I just need to take it into the game.

"My whole thing is to concentrate and getting back where I need to be. I want to get hits. I don't want to see the box scores with me going 0-for 3."

As for Snelling, he doesn't like to talk about himself. He claims he doesn't keep track of who is winning the left-field job or his great numbers in Spring Training. Snelling also said he doesn't know if drawing walks is part of game. All he wants to do is win ballgames.

"There is no competition for me. From what I hear, the manager has made up his mind on who he likes and that is out of my control," Snelling said. "I think [reporters] look at stats. There's nothing wrong with that. For me, as a player, it's not about me. It's about the team. I could be hitting a .150 or .350. I don't really care, as long as we're winning. That's all that I care about."

The GM speaks: Bowden said his most pleasant surprise has been seeing how Felipe Lopez has adjusted quickly to playing second base. Lopez, a shortstop by trade, doesn't have any problems turning the double play and, so far, is having great communication with shortstop Cristian Guzman.

"I thought that that would be one of the major issues of Spring Training," Bowden said. "There is risk there, but it was answered quickly. Felipe has a great team attitude first, and a great ethic, too. He put it to bed early."

Bowden said there are at least five teams calling about acquiring infielder Josh Wilson, who is hitting .357 this spring. There is a possibility that he could join Ronnie Belliard as one of the backup infielders.

"I didn't know going into Spring Training that he would be that quality player," Bowden said. "He certainly give us some protection."

Behind the plate: Catcher Brian Schneider is taking the leadership role to heart. So much so that Jerome Williams and Matt Chico have credited Schneider for getting their act together on the mound in their most recent outings. They both said they felt comfortable pitching to Schneider, who is now calling all the pitches. In the past, veteran pitchers such as Livan Hernandez and Ramon Ortiz were calling most of the pitches.

"I'm really getting comfortable," Schneider said. "I like it because they are listening. They are good. I give them a lot of credit for going out and doing a good job."

Another good outing: Right-hander Shawn Hill pitched five shutout innings and gave up four hits against the Dodgers. In the first, Hill got off to a slow start by giving up two singles and walking a batter, but corrected his flaws and didn't find himself in any danger after that.

"I didn't think I loosened up enough [before the game]," Hill said. "I kind of fought myself a bit. Plus, I had the wind blowing quite a bit with my movement that I get. It just makes it worse."

Injury report: Schneider has missed the last two games because of tightness in his left hamstring. He hurt himself running the bases against the Mets on Saturday. The injury is not considered serious.

This and that: The Nationals are expected to make more cuts on Wednesday. The roster is currently at 42. ...The Nationals had their first kangaroo court, with Barry Larkin, the special advisor to the general manager, as the judge. The session lasted for more than an hour, and a lot of laughter could be heard outside the room. Fines could be up to $10.

Did you know: Lopez and Abraham Nunez lead the Nationals in strikeouts with 10 this spring.

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Coming up: The Nationals travel to Jupiter, Fla., to play the Marlins on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Chico will face Florida right-hander Ricky Nolasco. Chico, a rookie, is close to making the starting rotation.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.