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Nats might be caught in the middle in center

The Sports Xchange

When the Nationals were moving toward the trade deadline this July, the top item on their shopping list was a center fielder, preferably one who also could solve their glaring need at the top of the lineup.

That position remains unsettled heading into 2012, but when asked about it on Friday, manager Davey Johnson sounded as if he didn't think the need was as dire as the Nationals' summer pursuits might have suggested.

While Johnson said the Nationals could use more depth in their outfield, he didn't say the team had to have a center fielder and said the team might be able to solve its outfield-depth questions internally as well.

Jayson Werth has been playing center field this month, and Michael Morse is likely to be in left field next year. If Bryce Harper eventually comes to the majors, he's likely to be in right field. So even if the Nationals were to pursue a leadoff hitter, they might not have space for that player to be a center fielder.

The only scenario in which the Nationals would have room in their outfield long term is if Morse ends up back at first base, where he played much of this year. But even then, either Werth would have to play center field or he or Harper would have to go to left.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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