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Notes: Batista getting it done in a pinch

Notes: Batista getting it done in a pinch

LOS ANGELES -- Tony Batista may have added a few more years to his playing career because he has proven to be a successful pinch-hitter in his first full season coming off the bench.

Entering Wednesday's action against the Dodgers, Batista is hitting .333 with one home run and a club-leading 12 RBIs as a pinch-hitter. Over all, he has a .280 batting average.

Batista's success off the bench has been a pleasant surprise. He has been known as a streaky hitter during his career, and there were some doubters in the organization and media who thought he would have problems in that role. But Batista changed his hitting philosophy. He realized that he had to take more pitches in order to be a success off the bench.

"In the beginning, I tried to act like I was playing every day. My at-bats were too quick. I didn't see enough pitches," Batista said. "Now I take more pitches and looking more at the situation [at hand]."

Nationals manager Manny Acta is hoping that people around baseball will take notice that Batista has made adjustments in his new role as a bench player.

"There is always a place in this game for good pinch-hitters in the National League," Acta said. "He is adding that to his repertoire, because he has never done that before. I think a lot of people thought he wasn't able to do that because of him being a streaky hitter and having a low batting average in the past."

While he would like to be an everyday player, Batista is willing to be role player for the Nationals for years to come. He is planning to play winter ball and learn his craft at first base, a position he didn't play until this season.

"I'm going to continue working at first and third base, and let's see if I can come back on this team next year," he said.

Injury report: Reliever Jesus Colome entered the game against the Dodgers in the seventh inning, and had to leave after two batters because of shin splints in his left leg. He is listed as day-to-day.

Colome said he occasionally has leg problems as a result of a car accident he was involved in 2002. Colome doesn't think the injury is serious, and he said he will be pitching again soon.

Second baseman Ronnie Belliard did not start on Wednesday against the Dodgers because he is still experiencing dizzy spells. Acta said Belliard is being checked out by a doctor. Belliard said on Tuesday that he is still recovering from a cold.

Wily Mo Pena (left foot contusion) is available to pinch-hit, but is not expected to be in the starting lineup until Friday against the Giants.

New position: In a double switch in the bottom of the 12th inning, Acta decided to put Brian Schneider at first base. It marked the second time Schneider has played the position. The first time came on the last day of the 2006 season.

Schneider said he occasionally takes ground balls at first base during batting practice.

Looking around: During the recent road trip, principal owner Mark Lerner took a tour of Dodger Stadium, Coors Field and Minute Maid Park to see what ideas the Nationals could bring to their new park, which opens next April.

"The Dodgers do it as well, if not better, than anyone in baseball," Lerner said a couple of days ago. "Top to bottom -- the way the quality of the place looks, the way the people are dressed, the way they treat the customers -- they do it first class, so if you want to learn something, this is one of the top places in America to come."

Stats of the day: Robert Fick leads the Nationals in ejections this season with two.

Did you know? The last Washington Major Leaguer to win a batting title was Senators first baseman Mickey Vernon, who hit .337 in 1953.

Coming up: The Nationals have the day off on Thursday, but return to Robert F. Kennedy Stadium to begin a three-game series against the Giants on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. The last time these two teams met was in early August, with the Nationals and Giants splitting the four-game series. Washington right-hander Tim Redding will face San Francisco right-hander Kevin Correia in the series opener.

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

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