Notes: Nats go to Church on Friday

Notes: Nats go to Church on Friday

WASHINGTON -- Outfielder Ryan Church started for the second consecutive game in center field on Friday night against the Phillies, and Nationals manager Manny Acta acknowledged that Church's hot bat is the reason why he's in the lineup.

Entering Friday's action, Church has 15 RBIs in his past 18 games, and he's hitting .310 in his last 28 games. For most of that time, Church has been a reserve. He lost his job as the everyday left fielder after Wily Mo Pena arrived in a trade from the Red Sox on Aug. 17.

"Not only [am I going with the hot hand, but] 40 doubles and 64 RBIs and a [.347] on-base percentage is hard to ignore," Acta said. "So we are trying to put our best team out there."

Church has not made it a secret that he doesn't like being benched, but he hasn't taken his displeasure out on the field, which has pleased Acta.

"I think he had the right attitude about it," Acta said. "I also think this is the first time he has had this many at-bats. A break was probably good for him. Call it a breather and he's energized."

Although he has set career highs in almost every offensive category, Church doesn't sound like a man who's satisfied with his season.

"I have 100 and something at-bats that I missed out on," Church said. "I know I can play. I really don't want to talk about it. It's one of those things where it's the end of the year, and you take advantage of whatever you can get."

With Church in the lineup, it means that Nook Logan has to sit. Logan's hitting .237 during September.

Welcome back: The Nationals activated shortstop Cristian Guzman from the 15-day disabled list on Friday. He then entered the game in the ninth inning against the Phillies as a defensive replacement.

Guzman missed almost three months of the season because of torn ligaments in his left thumb. Guzman hurt his thumb making a tag against the Indians on June 24. Guzman acknowledged that his thumb is not 100 percent.

Acta said Guzman may not start any of the team's remaining eight games.

Before getting injured, Guzman was hitting .329 (57-for-173) with two homers and 14 RBIs in 43 games.

Injury report: Acta said Dmitri Young's neck is getting better, and the first baseman hopes to be involved in baseball activities soon. Young has not played in six consecutive games after a ground ball off Mark Teixeira's bat hit him on the right side of his head.

Robert Fick has started in Young's place and has been swinging a hot bat. Fick is hitting .382, with two home runs and seven RBIs in his past 15 games to help raise his batting average to .236.

Before the hot streak, it was looking like a dismal year for Fick. He lost his mother to cancer and his batting average was hovering around the Mendoza line for most of the season.

Fick's hoping that his hot bat and his penchant for keeping his team loose will help him stay with the Nats next season.

"I know it's the end of the season, but what am I going to do?" Fick said. "I can't quit."

TV announcement: The Sept. 29 game between the Nationals and Phillies has been changed from 7:05 p.m. ET to 3:55 ET to accommodate the broadcast on FOX.

Stat of the day: The Nationals are 59-5 when they have a lead after eight innings.

Did you know? The Nats have 87 holds and 27 blown saves entering Friday's action.

Coming up: The Nats play the third game of a four-game series against the Phillies on Saturday night at 7:05 ET. Washington right-hander Tim Redding (3-5, 3.73 ERA) will face Philadelphia right-hander Kyle Kendrick (9-4, 4.05).

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