Acta more at ease with 2008 Nats

Acta more at ease with 2008 Nats

JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Manny Acta said on Tuesday he feels more at ease with the 2008 Nationals than he did with last year's team because there aren't as many question marks.

Last season, Acta had to deal with six-year free-agent pitchers who didn't have good track records in the big leagues, used six center fielders who weren't productive and oversaw an offense that finished last in runs scored.

Now, Acta is expected to have Lastings Milledge in center field for a long time, a better offensive team and young pitchers from the farm system to rely on if a pitcher on the 25-man roster goes down with an injury.

"We have some more depth now," Acta said. "It was very taxing mentally for every one of us to put that starting rotation together [in 2007]. Now that we have those guys in Triple-A, yes, they are young. Those guys are legit prospects. I don't have to [say], 'What am I going to do in center field today?' It's over with -- knock on wood. Hopefully, [Milledge] plays a whole season. It takes a lot of thoughts out of your head.

"The fact that we have Milledge, [Paul] Lo Duca, [Elijah] Dukes, now we have Nick Johnson, too, we do have a better offense."

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