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02/26/07 9:39 PM ET

Mailbag: Questions on second, rotation

Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson answers fans' queries

Spring Training is two weeks old for the Nationals, and baseball fans want to know about them and their chances of getting better in the National League East.

Here are some answers to your questions.

How much playing time will Ronnie Belliard get with the Nationals? With Felipe Lopez at second and Christian Guzman at shortstop, there doesn't seem to be too many opportunities for Belliard.
-- Dylan P., Shiloh, Ohio

At first glance, it looks like Belliard will not get a lot of playing time. But don't rule out injuries or Manny Acta's managing style. I think Acta will find a way to get him into games.

Do you think Acta will be more patient with the starters and let them go deep into games and not burn out the bullpen which I felt like was a problem last year.
-- Mike Z., Utica, N.Y.

I think it will depend on how well the starters throw in a game. Acta is not going to have a pitcher go deep in a game if he is getting hit hard. Last year, Robinson had to use his bullpen a lot because the starters often struggled.

I have noticed that left-hander Mark Redman is still unsigned. Is it possible that the Nats could acquire this veteran for the cheap?
-- Matt G., Boston

Matt, that is a great question. I was told by sources recently that the Nationals do not have interest in the left-hander -- for now. They want see how their young pitchers like Matt Chico perform first.

Is there a possibility that a reliever could become a potential starter? I remember in the mid-1990's, Jeff Fassero was a reliever before becoming a great starter for the Expos. I don't know, but someone like Chad Cordero, for example, could be a great guess. Am I dreaming for nothing, or I can hope for this to happen?
-- Alex P., Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, Canada

It depends on how you look at it. Rookie Levale Speigner is a reliever who has a chance to be in the rotation. However, Cordero will always be a closer. In the past, Jon Rauch has been mentioned as a candidate for the rotation, but he prefers to be in the bullpen for health reasons. Rauch was healthy all last season as a reliever.

The Nats need a center fielder. Should they sign a veteran outfielder like Bernie Williams to a one-year deal and see what impact he would have with Nick Johnson out?
-- Nelson N., Yonkers, N.Y.

Williams is too old and a defensive liability. I think you have to give Nook Logan a chance. We know he can play defense, but let's see how he hits from the left side of the plate.

How is left-hander Brandon Claussen's rehab going? What is the outlook for him this year?
-- Frank L. Roswell, N.M.

The rehab for Claussen is going very well, but he will not pitch for the Nationals during Spring Training. Don't be surprised if he pitches after the All-Star break.

I can tolerate the concept of a team dress code -- although I don't like it -- but could you or anyone else explain to me why wearing a hat backwards is frowned upon? I'm 61 years old and I still do that.
-- David W, Fredericton, NB, Canada

You are referring to Acta's dress code policy about not wearing the hats backwards. He wants the Nationals to be professionals. I, personally, like the hats on backwards.

What is the latest on Ian Desmond?
-- Mike M., Springfield, Va.

I saw Desmond on Saturday. Look for a little story on him in our Minor League report this coming Sunday. Desmond is currently in the team's accelerated program and looks to improve from last year's performance. He had problems with the bat and glove in 2006.

We have heard Acta's opinion and other reporters opinions on how well the Nationals will do in 2007. What about you? Outside of starting pitching, the Nationals have a fairly solid/talented team.
-- Patrick B., Fairfax Station, Va.

It's too early for me to make a prediction right now. Ask me the week of March 19 and I will give you an answer.

A couple of comments from Nationals fans:

Robert Fick also is a good choice at first base. He will be a reliable bat this year and will win games for them. They will want him to play to build numbers for trade bait, also. He is as good as the other guys and a tougher out at the plate.
-- Carrie F., Los Angeles, Calif.

Since he was with the Tigers, Dmitri Young's stats have gone down each year to where he was a below-average ballplayer. He might be a good Minor Leaguer, but as far as the Major Leagues, he has seen his best days.
--Mark S., Washington D.C.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.