© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

07/02/10 12:45 AM ET

Phils haven't inquired about Kennedy

Division rival without injured star second baseman Utley

WASHINGTON -- The Phillies have not called the Nationals about Adam Kennedy, who said he doesn't think about being traded. The Phils are looking for a second baseman after learning that Chase Utley is expected to miss eight weeks after having right thumb surgery.

Kennedy said all he thinks about is playing for the Nats. However, he is not surprised when his name is mentioned in trade talks.

"My job is here to prepare every day to play wherever that might be," he said. "When I'm not playing -- and I'm not at this point -- I do enough to stay ready. Getting traded is a part of baseball."

Kennedy, who was hitting .238 with two home runs and 15 RBIs before Thursday's game, started the season as the regular second baseman, but lost his job last month when Cristain Guzman started swinging a hot bat.

Riggleman wants to keep team together

WASHINGTON -- With the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman sounded like a man who didn't want to see the breakup of his team.

Entering Thursday's action, the Nationals were in fifth place in the National League East with a 34-45 record.

Riggleman said it's time for the team to start winning its share of ballgames before decisions are made leading up to the deadline. Washington must improve its defense in order to win, as the team leads baseball with 69 errors.

"When things are going well, you want more time to get things turned around with this group," Riggleman said. "But it's something that you have to earn. You can't make that strong suggestion to keep this group together when you are not winning enough ballgames to justify it.

"We have time, but time is running short. We need to get it going and make it clear that we might want to tweak a little something here and there, but we don't need to overhaul it, because we can do better with this group right here."

MacDougal opts for free agency

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Mike MacDougal is now a free agent after opting out of his Minor League contract with the Nationals on Thursday.

As a setup man, MacDougal put up respectable numbers for Triple-A Syracuse, going 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA and one save. However, the Nats didn't have any room for him in the Majors because the relief corps is productive. Entering Thursday's game against the Mets, Washington relievers have a combined 3.49 ERA.

Last season, MacDougal was Washington's closer, saving 20 games with a 3.60 ERA. He was arbitration-eligible after the season, but was non-tendered in December because the team wasn't sure if he would recover from offseason hip surgery.

MacDougal, 33, then signed with the Marlins and gave up five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings during Spring Training before he was unconditionally released by the club. Less than a week later, MacDougal signed with the Nationals.

With Washington, MacDougal had a deal in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn't promoted to the big leagues by Thursday.

Strasburg's final first-half start set for July 9

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will make his last start of the first half on July 9 against the Giants. It means he will get six days' rest after he faces the Mets on Saturday.

General manager Mike Rizzo said that Strasburg would get extra days off close to the All-Star break. Strasburg has pitched a combined 87 2/3 innings in the Minor and Major Leagues. He is expected to pitch 150-160 innings this year.

Maldonado back on field

WASHINGTON -- Catcher Carlos Maldonado, on the disabled list because of a left thumb fracture, was activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday.

There is no timetable on when he will return to the Major Leagues.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.