WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman said they are not surprised that infielder Cristian Guzman has been a professional since being told that he would start the season on the bench.
The team likes the fact that Guzman is willing to play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots. Guzman played second and right field without showing that he is new at the position during Spring Training.
"I expected him to act like the true professional that he is. He is a great character guy," Rizzo said. "We asked him to think of the team first, and he did that. He is that type of guy I thought he was. He really exceeded all of my expectations."
During his first 11 seasons, Guzman was an everyday shortstop for the Twins and Nationals. This year, Ian Desmond became the Opening Day shortstop for Washington. Riggleman hasn't ruled out Guzman being the Tony Phillips of the Nationals. Phillips was known to get close to 500 at-bats even though he never had a position to call his own.
"I won't say I'm surprised by [Guzman's professionalism]," Riggleman said. "I'm pleased that he has accepted the utility role, yet, he knows he is a solid Major League shortstop. He knows he could be playing every day. We made the decision based on Desmond's progress, not Guzman having any kind of regress.
"Guzzie has been great about it. I couldn't be happier about it. He really has a chance to be a plus for us. I can see where he is going to get as many at-bats as Adam Kennedy and Ian Desmond."
Guzman reiterated that he will do anything for the team. He is hoping he can get 500 at-bats by playing different positions.
"They put me in right field, second and short to get more at-bats. I'll take it." Guzman said. "When they want me to play, I'll be there. I know how to play this game."