Nats' corner-outfield spots up for grabs
Four candidates to compete for two positions in Spring Training
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are loaded with outfielders, but manager Manny Acta already decided that Lastings Milledge will be the regular center fielder.
Last year marked the first time Milledge played every day in the big leagues, and he did a good job, hitting .268 with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs.
"We have a center fielder," Acta said. "Lastings played the whole season there last year."
Now, Acta and his coaching staff must decide who will play left and right field. Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes, Austin Kearns and Josh Willingham are candidates to play the corner spots.
Dunn, who signed a two-year, $20 million contract Wednesday, is going to play every day, but he could also find himself playing first base if Nick Johnson is not healthy or is traded.
Dukes, Kearns and Willingham are all coming off serious injuries, but they are expected to be ready when the exhibition season starts.
"We are going to have six weeks of Spring Training," general manager Jim Bowden said. "We are going to look at the health of all our players. I don't think you can determine that in early March. I think it's going to be late March before you can determine how healthy they are.
"No. 2, you have to look at the performance of players beyond the health. Third is trade options. Do we have an opportunity to make a deal and make our team better? Certainly, we have depth."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.