Nationals loaded at second base

Nationals loaded at second base

WASHINGTON -- Since becoming interim manager of the Nationals last week, Jim Riggleman has started three second basemen -- Ronnie Belliard, Alberto Gonzalez and Willie Harris -- in six games.

The plan was to let Gonzalez become the everyday second baseman, which has not been ruled out, but Riggleman would like to see a player like Belliard, for example, get some time. Belliard was hardly used by former manager Manny Acta in the first half, but Riggleman feels more playing time will help Belliard become a better pinch-hitter in the long run.

"We want to get Belliard's bat in there. Gonzalez's overall ability of swinging the bat and fielding his position -- we want him in there," Riggleman said. "I can get at-bats now and then in other places for Willie. Those three guys are going to be primarily at second base.

"It's kind of tough to put any of them in a little grove. We are trying to avoid Belliard sitting too long on the bench. Belliard has to be a good hitter off the bench for us, and I think if he sits too long, that big pinch-hit isn't going to come. He needs to have some at-bats to draw from when he steps [to] the plate in a pinch-hit situation."

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