Nationals Rookie Lombardozzi Doubles His Versatility





WASHINGTON—As the son of a major leaguer and as a utilityman expected to see time at four or more positions, rookie Steve Lombardozzi has no shortage of people he seeks out for advice.

The 23-year-old made the big league Opening Day roster because manager Davey Johnson felt he could get him at least 300 at-bats. To do that, the player who was drafted as a shortstop and played mostly second base in the minors will see time in left field and perhaps third base.

In big league spring training, Lombardozzi played left field for the first time (four games) since well before he attended Atholton High in Columbia, Md.

With left fielder Michael Morse and center fielder Rick Ankiel on the disabled list to start the season, Lombardozzi was ready as needed to join center fielder Roger Bernadina and right fielder Jayson Werth in the outfield.

"I felt all right there," he said. "I had a couple hiccups here and there, and I'm going to. I'm especially trying to pick these guys' brains—Akiel, Werth, Bernie. I think it can only help me, trying to take advantage of this situation."

The switch-hitting Lombardozzi hit .313 in 67 at-bats this spring. A year ago, he batted a cumulative .309/.360/.430 in 556 at-bats for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse before going 6-for-31 (.194) with a double with Washington.

Like his father Steve Lombardozzi Sr., a six-year big leaguer and World Series winner with the 1987 Twins, Lombardozzi played shortstop as an amateur before shifting to second base after turning pro.

The junior Lombardozzi, a 19th-round pick in 2008 out of St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC, played three games at second base, one at shortstop and three at third—a new position for him—with Washington last September.

"Just being an infielder, your instincts take over," Lombardozzi said, "but definitely third is different than up the middle. The biggest thing was my footwork and being aggressive on everything."

CAPITAL GAINS

• Lee County, Fla., commissioners unanimously agreed to begin negotiations this spring with the Nationals on moving their spring training site to City of Palms Park in Fort Myers. No other teams train within an hour's bus drive of Viera, so the Nationals would like to find a more convenient situation. though principal owner Mark Lerner said the team will stay put through at least next spring.

• Farm director Doug Harris was impressed this spring with second baseman Jeff Kobernus, a 2009 second-round pick who batted .282/.313/.387 in 489 at-bats last year at high Class A Potomac. "He has improved his balance at the plate," Harris said. "His swing is short, and he's been spraying the ball."