Washington has big plans for Emilio Bonifacio, whose future appears to begin next week.
It would not be a surprise if Bonifacio, sent to Triple-A Columbus after being acquired from the Diamondbacks for Jon Rauch, becomes the Nationals' regular second baseman and leadoff hitter once the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline passes.
The Nats have made current second baseman Felipe Lopez available, and even if they are unable to move him, they still seem likely to throw Bonifacio into an everyday role in order to expedite his learning process.
Bonifacio has several tools -great speed, solid glove, work ethic - but had only 23 at-bats with the D-Backs in very limited exposure the last two seasons, and he needs looks against major league pitching that might as well start now.
"He'll be our second baseman next year," Washington general manager Jim Bowden said at the time of the deal.
Bonifacio may jump into the leadoff spot when he is promoted next week, after stealing 207 bases since 2004 in that role in the D-Backs' system. He led the Southern League with 41 stolen bases in 54 attempts at Mobile last season.
Some have compared Bonifacio to Chone Figgins, although others wonder if he has enough pop to drive the ball consistently. Bonifacio had five hits, all singles, in his first two games with Columbus.
Many believe that if he can just put the ball on the ground and hit .270, his speed will make him a disruptive offensive chip.
"The guy is going to be a dynamic type of player," said Nationals assistant general manager Mike Rizzo, who signed Bonifacio for the D-Backs in 2001.
"I think he's really just scratched the surface."
THE MOOSE IS LOOSE
After going 11-10 with a 5.15 ERA last season and 1-3 with a 5.75 ERA in his first four starts this season, Mike Mussina seemed an endangered starter. Since then, he is 12-3 with a 2.76 ERA, leading all major leaguers in victories.
Cleveland's Cliff Lee (11-2) and Colorado's Aaron Cook (11-5) have the second-most victories in that span, while Toronto's Roy Halladay and St. Louis' Kyle Lohse have 10. Only Lee (2.65) has a better ERA.
POP WITHOUT BIG PAPI
Boston picked up one game on Tampa Bay in the seven weeks David Ortiz was sidelined, and its offense did not seem affected.
The Red Sox were 34-24 (.586) with Ortiz, 26-19 (.578) without him. They actually averaged a touch more runs and home runs without him, and also had a very slight increase in on-base and slugging percentages.
BUY ME SOME, UH, WAIT ...
Peanuts and Cracker Jack will be banned from two sections at Seattle's Safeco Field for games Aug. 5 against Minnesota and Sept. 9 against Texas.
Sections 311 and 312 will be cleaned thoroughly the night before those games, and no peanut products will be permitted.
It is estimated that 12 million people in the U.S. have food allergies, about one-quarter of them children. The incidence of peanut allergies among children doubled from 1997 to 2002, according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
YANKEES MAY NOT BE DONE
After adding Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte on Friday, the Yankees continue to pursue Seattle left-hander Jarrod Washburn.
Washburn has a no-trade clause that bars him from being dealt to the Yankees, among other teams, but sources close to Washburn indicate he would waive that protection to improve his situation.
The Yankees must decide if any concessions Washburn and agent Scott Boras seek are worth the risk, in addition to taking on Washburn's contract, which is worth $10.35 million in 2009.
Writers from around the league contributed to this report.