JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals infielder Cristian Guzman started at second base for the first time in his career Wednesday and didn't play like at amateur at the position. He helped turn two double plays in a 9-6 victory over the Cardinals.
With runners on first and second in the first inning, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols hit a ground ball up the middle. Guzman backhanded the ball and had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, but he flipped the ball in time to shortstop Ian Desmond, who was able to get Pujols at first base.
Two innings later, Matt Holliday hit a sharp grounder to Desmond, who then threw to Guzman for the force play before the latter turned the double play.
"We really didn't have too much concern that [turning the double play would be a problem for Guzman]," manager Jim Riggleman said. "If we had any, he alleviated those concerns."
Guzman also went 3-for-4 in the game to raise his Spring Training batting average to .326. After he left the game in the top of the sixth inning, Guzman said he wasn't nervous about playing second base.
"It felt a little weird with the angles," Guzman said. "I'm happy because I work hard. I want to do everything for my team and hope we win."
After playing 11 seasons as a regular shortstop, Guzman was told by Riggleman on Sunday he was going to be a utility player. Guzman is expected to play all four infield positions.
"Guzman is really going to be a big contributor to the club," Riggleman said. "With his abilities to the bat from both sides of the plate, we really have some good options with our three middle infielders. The three guys there -- [Adam] Kennedy, Guzman and Desmond -- give us a lot of athleticism and they can swing the bat."
Guzman has proven to be a great teammate to Desmond, who said Guzman hasn't held a grudge against Desmond for taking his job.
"I have a soft spot in my heart for Guzzie," said Desmond, who also had three hits in the game. "He has taken me under his wing the last four or five years. He was having fun, it looked like. He was having a good time. That's reassuring. The last thing I wanted was to come in here, play short every day and have bitter feelings toward me. So today was good. We got on the field and we communicated well. It was a good day for me, Guzzie and everybody."