Guzman to miss rest of season

Guzman to miss rest of season

ATLANTA -- Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman had surgery on his left thumb on Monday afternoon at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., and it was revealed that he tore ligaments in the thumb and will be out for the rest of the season.

Guzman hurt his thumb on Sunday in the top of the fifth inning against the Indians at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. Cleveland second baseman Josh Barfield attempted to steal second base, but he was tagged out by Guzman for the last out of the inning. On the tag, Guzman's thumb hit Barfield's helmet hard. However, Guzman never left the game and had two more at-bats. In fact, in his last at-bat, in the bottom of the eighth, Guzman lined out hard to Barfield for the first out of the inning.

"The thumb didn't look right," manager Manny Acta said. "I was going to take him out of the game and he refused. Obviously, the blood is flowing and you don't feel that much pain, but he played through it."

After the game, Guzman attempted to put on his suit and fly to Atlanta. In fact, reliever Jon Rauch was kind enough to tie Guzman's tie. Guzman went so far as to tell Acta that he could play through the pain, but the thumb was in such bad shape that the team convinced Guzman to get the thumb checked out. Late Sunday afternoon, Guzman was seen wearing a huge cast on the thumb.

"The doctors convinced us and we convinced him that's the best decision," Acta said. "The thumb is not right. The thumb can go all the way back. It's a freaky thing. It's bad."

Acta said the Guzman took the news of going on the disabled list very hard. Guzman was having one of the best seasons of his career and was proving that he was worth the four-year, $16.8 million deal he signed after the 2004 season.

The first year of the contract was a disaster. In 2005, Guzman hit .219 in 142 games and missed all of 2006 with a shoulder injury. He was hitting .329 with two home runs and 14 RBIs this season.

"He had two rough seasons in Washington and finally he is playing great and has been a big part of this team," Acta said. "The first thing out of his mouth was, 'I want to play through this. I don't want to spend any more time on the DL.'"

The injury means that Felipe Lopez will be the everyday shortstop, while Ronnie Belliard will man second base. They will be double-play partners for the second time this season. After Guzman strained his left hamstring on Opening Day, Lopez and Belliard were double-play partners for more than a month.

Lopez said that he is more comfortable at second base because of the short throws, but is prepared to go to play the position where he became an All-Star in 2005.

"I'm more comfortable at second. It's easier. There are no long throws," Lopez said. "I played shortstop before. It's no big deal."

Guzman was the leadoff hitter for the last two weeks, but that spot in the batting order now belongs to center fielder Brandon Watson.

"I'm going to try to do my best," Watson said. "If I'm hitting eighth or leading off, I'm going to take the same approach. I'm going to get on base and make things happen."

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