Notes: Logan returns from groin injury
Hitting coach Page seeks improvement; Guzman makes strides
NORFOLK, Va. -- The Nationals received some good news on Friday afternoon. Center fielder Nook Logan played in his first game since last Saturday, when he suffered a strained right groin against the Cardinals.
Logan didn't have any problems as he went 0-for-1 with a walk and made two putouts against the Orioles at Harbor Park. After the walk, Logan dove back to first base a couple of times after right-hander Jaret Wright tried to pick him off. Logan said the only thing that he could feel was the wrap around the groin area.
"Everything felt good," Logan said. "I've been feeling good the last couple of days. There was no pain. That's a positive. I hope it can continue every day."
Manager Manny Acta said that Logan will play six or seven innings against the Orioles on Saturday.
"I think he is ready to go," Acta said. "He ran with freedom. He didn't pace himself or anything."
Logan hurt the groin on in the ninth inning last Saturday. Logan singled to right field off Cardinals right-hander Josh Hancock. The ball slowly reached John Rodriguez, prompting Logan to consider taking the extra base. Logan took a wide turn and then suddenly fell to the ground between first and second. Rodriguez then threw the ball to first baseman Tagg Bozied, who put the tag on Logan for the second out of the inning.
The original diagnosis was that Logan would miss the start of the regular season and land on the disabled list, however, it took less than a week for Logan to start doing running drills and talking batting practice.
"With God's will, he kept everything right," Logan said. "We'll see the next couple of days [if I'm ready for Opening Day]."
Before the injury, Logan was getting his swing back, especially from the left side. He saw his batting average go from .219 on March 19 to .255 last Saturday.
"I was pleased with Nook before he got hurt," said hitting coach Mitchell Page. "He was taking good, quality at-bats, walking more. He was a little more patient and putting the ball in play."
If Logan is ready for Opening Day, that would mean that Kory Casto will be sent down to Triple-A Columbus. The Nationals are planning to carry 12 pitchers to start the regular season. The team is planning to make roster moves on Saturday.
Casto sounded like a man who has resigned himself to getting demoted. He gave Ryan Church and Chris Snelling a good battle, hitting .292 with five RBIs.
"If I [get sent to Columbus], I'll be a little bit disappointed," Casto said. "I worked hard. Any time you work hard for something and it doesn't work out, it's a little bit of a letdown.
"I will take it in stride. I'll go down there every day, work hard, play hard and I'll try to get back up here as soon as possible."
Hearing from the hitting coach: Page is happy about the way the Nationals went about their business in Spring Training, but he would like to see the Nationals get better with runners on third with fewer than two outs. Page didn't like the fact that the Nationals left 14 runners on base against the Orioles on Thursday.
"We have to get more discipline when it comes to picking up cheap RBIs," Page said. "It's only Spring Training. We have to get better when we have runners in scoring position and not have guys trying to be the hero. Just pick up the run."
The Nationals were able to get four cheap RBIs with runners on third with fewer than two outs on Friday against the Orioles. In the second inning, with Wright on the mound, Ronnie Belliard hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Dmitri Young. Two innings later, Young scored again on a sacrifice fly by Snelling.
With no outs in the fifth inning, Austin Kearns hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Church. Young followed and he took a Brian Burris pitch and hit another sacrifice to bring home Ryan Zimmerman.
A new Guzie: Page said he sees a different Cristian Guzman at the plate than the one he saw in 2005. Page has seen Guzman make a lot of adjustments, and it has paid off. Guzman is 18-for-43 (.419) with one home run and nine RBIs.
"He has his weight balanced, he's staying behind the ball," Page said. "He is very impressive to me right now from both sides of the plate. He may be an All-Star caliber player. It's not a fluke for him because he has been around. I think this is the real deal we have right here. I saw no weaknesses this spring."
On the mound: Left-hander Matt Chico faced the Orioles for the second time and didn't have much success. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings. The first three innings were easy for Chico, but he struggled for the next 2 2/3 innings, giving up the four runs.
"It was one of those days where I got out of sync with some pitches and I ended up with three walks, which I was not too happy with," Chico said. "Overall, I thought I did an OK job."
Chico threw 77 pitches in the game, and Acta was hoping that Chico would throw more, but he said he wanted to win the game and sent Micah Bowie in to pitch. Bowie ended giving up the game-tying hit to Mike Cervenak.
This and that: Friday's game between the Nationals and Orioles was a sellout. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. ET on Feb. 24 and were sold out within 30 minutes. ... Catcher/infielder Robert Fick will return to the Nationals on Saturday. He has spent the last two days with his ailing mother. ... Friday's game in Norfolk was the first between two big-league teams since 1974, when the Mets played the Yankees. ... The ziMS Foundation, founded by Ryan Zimmerman, sold 60 tickets at $75 each for Friday's game. For buying tickets, fans received transportation to the game, a Nationals hat and T-shirt, dinner, door prizes and music. The foundation's goal is to help find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Zimmerman's mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with the illness in 1995. ... Zimmerman received a nice ovation from the Norfolk crowd on Friday. Zimmerman grew up in Virginia Beach, which is 15 miles from Norfolk.
Did you know? Reliever Mike Bacsik is the only player from the Nationals' traveling party to don a Norfolk Tides uniform.
Coming up: The Nationals travel back to Washington, D.C., on Saturday to play their final exhibition game against the Orioles at RFK Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 1:05 ET. Washington right-hander Jason Bergmann will face Baltimore left-hander Adam Loewen.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.