By Joe Christensen
The Washington writers told me Cristian Guzman was in great spirits today, happy to be back in Minnesota. Guess he just didn’t want to make a big deal of coming back yesterday in the press. After finishing my Sunday notes, I got to the Dome in time to hear Nationals manager Manny Acta talk about both Guzman and Tony Batista.
On Guzman, who came into tonight batting .319, Acta said the difference this year has been health. “He had a miserable season in 2005 after being such a good player in Minnesota. And he was hurt. He tried to play through [a shoulder injury] because of the big contract that he just signed, and the next year he missed the whole season. This year has been day-and-night, from day one. We’re happy because that’s the player we wanted over here the player the Twins had.”
Batista, meantime, has rattled off a few pinch hits, raising his average to .300. Acta’s quote might make some Twins fans chuckle: “I’m very happy and surprised with the way he has come off the bench because we all know that Tony tends to be streaky when he plays every day. And coming off the bench is a tough job for a guy like him. … That was my main concern, I said this is not going to work because this guy needs to see a pitcher two or three times to get the timing down. But he’s been terrific. There’s a lot of baseball left for him.”
Washington has several other Twins connections. Tonight’s starter, Jason Simontacchi (say that five times fast), went 7-13 for the Twins’ Class AAA Edmonton affiliate in 2001. He has eight ground ball outs in three innings.
Tomorrow, the Twins will face another former farmhand, Levale Speingner. He pitched fairly well for Class AA New Britain and Class AAA Rochester last year, and Washington plucked him in the Rule V draft. Doesn’t seem to be a huge loss, as he’s 1-2 with a 9.10 ERA.