Notes: Young shifts into cleanup role
Veteran slugger bats fourth, Church moves up to sixth spot
WASHINGTON -- In need of more offense, Nationals manager Manny Acta tweaked his lineup for Saturday's game against the Diamondbacks by making Dmitri Young the cleanup hitter, dropping Austin Kearns a notch to the No. 5 spot and Brian Schneider from No. 6 to the eighth hole. Ryan Church is now batting in Schneider's spot.
Acta said he wanted a more balanced lineup -- a right/left-handed hitter scenario in the middle of the order -- and more speed from the fifth through seventh spots. He didn't rule out putting on the hit and run with Ronnie Belliard, the seventh hitter, at the plate.
"It looks like Church is starting to swing the bat the way we expect him," Acta said. "He got out of that little funk out of Spring Training. We can split Dmitri and Schneider, who are not the fastest guys. With Belliard hitting behind Church, maybe we can put a play on or something."
The Nationals are in desperate need of offense. They are 0-for-19 with runners in scoring position and have stranded 20 runners on base in the last two games.
Young, who was batting fifth before Saturday, has been the Nationals' most productive hitter, batting .316 with one home run and a team-leading four RBIs. During his career, Young has hit cleanup in 433 games and has a .283 batting average with 63 home runs and 236 RBIs.
"It feels no different. I'm just hitting behind [Ryan] Zimmerman instead of hitting behind Kearns," Young said. "I don't look too much into it."
The Nationals are hoping that Young can help Zimmerman get better pitches to hit.
"It will perhaps help [Zimmerman get pitches to hit] because it's going to be right-left-right, instead of right-right-left," Young added. "That mixes things up a little bit. We'll see what happens."
Schneider has never been a fan of hitting eighth because he will be hitting in front of the pitcher and will most likely see nothing but breaking balls. Schneider is a .250 career hitter when batting eighth.
"Manny is moving some guys in the lineup in order to get something going," Schneider said. "Hopefully, we'll get some hits here and I'll move out of that eighth hole."
Schneider is tied for the team lead in RBIs with four.
Scoring change: On Tuesday, right-hander Shawn Hill was charged with four earned runs in five innings against the Marlins. But it was announced on Saturday that official scorer David Vincent changed Hill's stats to two earned in five innings and gave shortstop Josh Wilson a first-inning error. Hill's ERA is now 3.60 instead of 7.20. Hill said he found out about the change on Wednesday.
"My family told me they were looking around and they realized the change," Hill said. "I didn't check or anything. They looked at the stats and they saw the difference and told me about it."
In the first inning, with Marlins leadoff hitter Hanley Ramirez on first, Dan Uggla hit a ground ball to the left of Wilson, who dove for the ball, caught it, and tried to flip it to second baseman Felipe Lopez with his glove hand. The ball, however, went past Lopez, which put runners on first and second. Wilson was not charged with an error at the time and it was ruled a fielder's choice. Ramirez would later score on an error by Young.
Hill acknowledged that he went to pitching coach Randy St. Claire and asked if the scoring decision could be changed. St. Claire told him that it was highly unlikely.
"It was one of those weird plays where you rule it a hit, it's understandable," Hill said, "but the fielder's choice is kind of no-man's land."
The cold weather: The game-time temperature on Saturday night was 41 degrees, but the wind-chill factor made it feel like it was 29. Before the game, the Nationals took batting practice and stretched inside because of the cold, but Acta didn't seem to be too bothered by it.
"Both teams are out in the same conditions, so no excuses," the manager said.
Lopez said there are ways for ballplayers to keep warm on the field and in the dugout, including padded batting gloves, coffee and a heater.
"For me, it's not a big deal," Lopez said.
FYI: After catching six straight games, Schneider will get the day off on Sunday. Jesus Flores gets the start behind the plate.
Stat of the day: Entering Saturday's game, the Nationals' starting pitching has given up 22 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings.
Did you know: Through Friday's action, Jesus Colome leads the Nationals' relievers in innings pitched with five.
Coming up: The Nationals play the final game of a four-game series against the Diamondbacks at RFK Stadium on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 ET. Hill will face Arizona right-hander Livan Hernandez.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.