-- Ryan K., Carlisle, Pa.
I'm not going to sugarcoat this. Either give Willie Harris the job outright or go out and acquire a right fielder who can drive in runs. To tell you the truth, I find it hard to believe the Nationals are going with the platoon situation they are planning. With the exception of Harris, none of the other candidates have proven that they want the job. I believe general manager Mike Rizzo will sign a free agent or make a trade before Opening Day.
Is Ian Desmond an option to be the everyday right fielder?
-- William B., Silver Spring, Md.
There is no chance Desmond will play right field. He will play every day as a shortstop in the Majors or Minor Leagues in 2010.
Why do you like Livan Hernandez so much? Is it because he can eat innings? --
Michael P., Winchester, Va.
I feel Hernandez gives a great effort every time he is on the mound. He also helps himself with the bat. Since I've been on the Nationals/Expos beat, Hernandez is the best pitcher I've covered -- by far -- followed by Chad Cordero.
How did you feel about Rizzo releasing Elijah Dukes last week?
-- John R., Washington
I have mixed emotions because I like Dukes a lot, but I have to side with Rizzo on this one. Dukes' baseball skills were eroding. Everybody in Spring Training could see it. Did Dukes do something wrong in the clubhouse? I don't know, because the team is not talking about it. If he did something wrong, Dukes knew not to cross Rizzo. Here's what Dukes said to me about Rizzo in January:
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"He knows what it takes to get me to shut up and play. He would say, 'Stop making excuses and just play.' He said, 'I'm not going to baby you. You know how I feel about you. I love you to death, but I'm going to treat you like you are a grown man.' I was like, 'All right, I can't really try to step over that line. I can't even flex it a little bit.' He let me know that he is going to treat me like everybody else."
Do you think the Nationals should pursue outfielder Jermaine Dye, who is still a free agent?
-- Andrew L., Fredericksburg, Va.
I think they should make a run for him, because he has power and will drive in runs. From what I heard from people in the know, Dye is a great person in the clubhouse. However, the only way Dye is coming to Washington is if the club can get him at a reasonable price. The Nationals will not break the bank for him.
What are your thoughts on Garrett Mock now? Last year, you weren't convinced about his performance when everyone was saying he had monster stuff.
-- Alex C., Montreal
I see a change in Mock this year. I like the fact that he is not walking hitters nor coming up with excuses when things go wrong on the mound. I'm expecting him to be a major player in the rotation this year. He will have his ups and downs, but I expect more ups this year because of the way he is throwing and the attitude adjustment.
The Nationals didn't waste time signing Mike MacDougal after he was released by the Marlins. What are his chances of him being on the 25-man roster?
-- Billy C., Washington
I say it's 50-50 he makes the club. Let's see how he does the next 10 games. You hope he makes it based on what he did last year. I thought he did an above-average job as the closer.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less