Notes: Zimmerman's defense solid

Notes: Zimmerman's defense solid

WASHINGTON -- Entering Saturday's action, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has made 14 errors, one short of last season's total, but one will not hear manager Manny Acta complaining.

The skipper has often praised Zimmerman for saving a lot of runs with his diving plays and getting to balls that no other third baseman can get to.

"He has been unbelievable. It's very easy, when you are from out of town, to point out that this guy has 14 errors," Acta said. "Yes, he has made 14 errors, but this guy has saved more runs for us than he has produced offensively. I see this guy every single day and this guy can play third base for me for the rest of his life. Stats are very deceiving."

Asked how he was doing at the position, Zimmerman said he has made a lot of errors because he is trying get every ball hit his way.

"It has been tough, but I feel that I've learned and I've gotten better since last year," Zimmerman said.

Trade deadline talk: Relievers Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch, first baseman Dmitri Young and second baseman Ronnie Belliard have been the main players who have been mentioned in trade talks, but, according to a baseball source, outfielder Ryan Church is on the block. The source said contending teams see him as an extra outfielder down the stretch.

"If he played a full season for those teams, he would get no more than 220 at-bats," said the source.

Last winter, Church was one of the big names bandied about during the Winter Meetings. The Cubs were interested in Church last December, but nothing ever came of it.

The Nationals have been scouting opposing teams' prospects. On Saturday, they were watching players at Double-A Erie, the Tigers' affiliate.

There have been reports linking Cordero and Rauch to the Mets, but, according to another baseball source, the chances of those players going to New York are slim. The source said that general manager Jim Bowden is asking too much for those players. The source said that Bowden is asking for outfielder Lastings Milledge and pitcher Mike Pelfrey.

Mets second baseman Jose Valetin broke his right leg on Friday, but the Mets are not interested in Belliard. They are happy with Ruben Gotay, who is currently hitting .350.

Pitching probable: The Nationals play a day/night doubleheader against the Mets next Saturday and that means they will need an extra starting pitcher to pitch in one of those games. Sources indicate that left-hander John Lannan and right-hander Joel Hanrahan are candidates to get the start.

Lannan is the team's best prospect. He is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA for Triple-A Columbus. Hanrahan is 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA for Columbus.

On the mound: With Jason Simontacchi expecting to miss another start, Acta said that left-hander Billy Traber will get another chance to start against the Mets next week. On Friday, Traber pitched four innings and gave up one earned run against the Rockies

Simontacchi said that if the pain in his elbow does not subside in the next three days, he will have an MRI to see what the problem is.

In the meantime, reliever Chris Booker, who was recalled on Saturday, will be come out of the bullpen in the sixth or seventh inning. The team believes that Booker's forkball can get left-handers out.

Injury report: First baseman Dmitri Young didn't start for the second consecutive game because of a bruised left heel. Robert Fick started in Young's place again.

Stat of the day: Entering Saturday's action, the Nationals' bullpen has a 1.92 ERA during the month of July.

Did you know: Entering Saturday's action, the Nationals have made 67 errors, while opponents have made 47 against them.

Coming up: The Nationals play the fourth game of a four-game series against the Rockies on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 ET at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. Washington right-hander Tim Redding will face Colorado right-hander Josh Fogg.

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