Inbox: Put Harris front and center?

Inbox: Put Harris front and center?

Should Willie Harris play every day in center field? When will Dmitri Young return to the Nationals? Those are two of the many questions Nationals fans have been asking. Here some answers to their queries.

Do you feel Willie Harris should play every day in center field for the Nationals?
-- David P., Washington, D.C.

It's a no-brainer that he should play every day. Harris is their best defensive outfielder. Defense was one of the reasons the Nationals went on a four-game winning streak recently, and Harris played a huge role in it. Harris also is a pretty good hitter and often comes through in the clutch.

I consider Alberto Gonzalez as an everyday player. He has made great progress since he came from the Yankees. What do you think?
-- Yu-Hung Su, Chiayi, Taiwan

Gonzalez has 131 at-bats as a member of the Nationals and it's too early to tell if he is an everyday player. Prior to the trade, Gonzalez was known as a good glove, no-hit type of player. I would not trade Cristian Guzman in order to get more playing time for Gonzalez.

What is the status of Dmitri Young? What plans do the Nationals have for him?
-- Ed W., Dodge City, Kans.

Young will start a rehab assignment in a about a week with Triple-A Syracuse, however, I don't see where he fits in the Major League roster. The Nationals don't want to add any more veteran position players on the roster. If Nick Johnson is traded, for example, Adam Dunn most likely will play first base.

I don't understand why the Nationals sent Jason Bergmann back to the Minors. Before being hit hard in his last game, Bergmann had a 3.77 ERA and getting the job done. Why is Joel Hanrahan still here after blowing so many games and losing his closer job twice?
-- Alex C., Montreal

The Nationals needed to activate Kip Wells, and Bergmann was the only reliever on the roster who had options. I know Bergmann took the news hard, but he'll be back.

Your point on Hanrahan is well taken. He has not pitched well all year. I've had people in the organization tell me that his fastball is too straight and he relies too much on his slider. If the Nationals were to let him go, they would have to designate him for assignment, because he is out of options.

In a previous Inbox, you said coaches aren't to blame for Washington's defensive woes. If a team does not field, it is the coaching staff's fault. If manager Manny Acta isn't to blame, who is? You never seem to blame team president Stan Kasten.
-- Frank B., Washington, D.C.

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I'm telling you, it's not the coaching staff. They work hard with the players on defense. I put the blame on the players. Take Dunn: From Day 1 in the big leagues, he has never improved his skills in the outfield. To me, that's on him to get better. Now, I've seen miracles happen over the years. Tony Gwynn and Lou Piniella were not good outfielders when they first came up, but they worked hard and became solid with the glove. I think it's up to the players to improve on their glove work.

How long do you think it will take for the Nationals to recover from all the bad trades and signings former general manager Jim Bowden made?
-- Mike E., Mechanicsburg, Pa.

The key here is losing all the bad contracts, and they will be gone by the end of the year. It's doubtful the Nationals are going to re-sign Young, Austin Kearns and Johnson. That's almost $20 million off the books.

Why isn't the team quick to call up right-hander Tyler Clippard from Triple-A Syracuse? He seems to have the stats to support a promotion.
-- Drew K. Wilmington, N.C.

That's a great question. Here's what I was told. To start the season, Clippard didn't throw enough first pitch strikes, but he managed to prevent runs from scoring. While he got away with it in the Minor Leagues, the organization felt that wouldn't be the case in the Major Leagues. However, Clippard has improved in that category since then and will be in the Major Leagues soon, I was told.

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