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Bergmann to the DL

Just when you thought it couldn't get much worse, the Nationals put Jason Bergmann on the 15-day disabled list this afternoon. Tomorrow, they are expected to recall lefty Mike Bacsik from Class AAA Columbus, and he'll face the Orioles tomorrow night.

Nationals' rotation now: Simontacchi, Bacsik, Bowie, Speigner, Chico. Wow.

Bergmann: "They don't want me to hurt something else trying to keep it safe. I want to pitch. I want to be healthy. And if taking a couple extra days off will help keep me that way, so be it."

"The team feel right now is fantastic. I just wish I was going to be able to pitch and keep going. I know our staff's a little depleted right now. I'd love to be there for the guys. It's just disappointing to me that I can't help the team out right now. We're feeling good. We're on a roll as a team, and we just want to keep that going."

The bottom line: He isn't hurt badly. But the Nationals were in a tough spot. They need as much help in the bullpen as possible because both Levale Speigner and Micah Bowie are converted relievers, and it's not realistic that they'll have seven-inning outings.

Bacsik, who was in camp with the Nationals in 2006 but then released, went on to go 11-0 for Arizona's Class AAA affiliate. The Nationals brought him back into camp this year, and he was 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA at Columbus. In his last outing Monday, he gave up five earned runs in 4-1/3 innings, just the second time this season -- in nine outings, five of them starts -- that he's allowed more than two runs.

Bacsik is a huge Dallas Mavericks fan, so he may have been depressed about the Mavs' early ouster from the playoffs.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Bacsik, the Nationals moved Luis Ayala from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list, a procedural matter that won't affect when Ayala can return.

Nationals lineup:
Lopez -- 4
Guzman -- 6
Zimmerman -- 5
Church -- 7
Kearns -- 9
Young -- 3
Schneider -- 2
Langerhans -- 8
Simontacchi -- 1

Dmitri Young back in the lineup after battling achilles tendon problems. Acta said he'd be replaced in the late innings by Robert Fick if they're protecting a lead. And Chad Cordero back into his closer's role tonight.

Hope to see you out here.

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 18, 2007; 4:50 PM ET
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... no pain, no gain.

... anything worth having is worth struggling for.

... and all the other cliches that say the same thing: it's times like these which will eventually strengthen the team in ways too basic for words. I have faith in Manny, in Randy and Lenny. I have faith in the Nationals. It may very well cost some games (a lot?) to go through this stretch but to enter this kind of disastrous situation with heads high and to endure whatever happens, will make this team so very much more solid and confident. Keep the faith.

Posted by: david f watts | May 18, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Man, this team sure has a heckuva way of testing that faith...

Posted by: Juan-John | May 18, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

At least we're not on tenterhooks any more. Welcome aboard, Mike.

(No snarky references to the S.S. Minnow, people.)

Posted by: Hendo | May 18, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess we're back to 8-0 blowouts.

Posted by: Ed | May 18, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

just think, though, who we get back in June/July:

Nick Johnson
John Patterson
Shawn Hill
Jason Bergmann
Luis Ayala
Mike O'Connor

personally, they can keep Jerome Williams and Ryan Wagner on the DL all season long (or let them stay in Columbus).

Posted by: e | May 18, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

"I guess we're back to 8-0 blowouts." least not against the O's. More likely 2-1 leads that become 3-2 losses in the 9th, now that our 'closer' is back.

Posted by: one of Barry's Babes | May 18, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

heh, heh. Good one Barry's Babe.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 18, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't it seem like the Nats always downplay the seriousness of injuries when they first occur? Patterson; Hill; Johnson (wasn't he supposed to be ready by 2007 Opening Day, according to the doctors last winter); Guzman (also supposed to be available at some point in 2006); etc. etc. and now Bergmann?

What's the deal here, Barry?

Posted by: swanni | May 18, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Dmitri Young is another one. Was supposed to be out for just a game or two.

Posted by: swanni | May 18, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I suppose if you're searching for a positive about all this DL stuff, it's that management wants to protect the players they deem the future. It really isn't worth sacrificing them now for a few meaningless wins. Take care of them now and hopefully they will recognize that management isn't throwing them to the wolves in order to salvage a lost season anyway. If the players trust that they're being protected from career ending injuries, as much as they possibly can, it should give them confidence that the team is working with their best interests in mind. Hopefully it all works out in the end. GO NATS....STAY HOT

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 18, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I guess that's the positive spin. My problem is that you have guys like Glavine, Smoltz and Maddox that have been pitching game after game for 20 years, but our guys can't pitch 6 innings w/o going on the DL. Makes you wonder if we are grooming starters for the future or nursing along the chronically injured.

Posted by: Ed | May 18, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Barry -

Have you seen this?

It's an open proposal to Ted Lerner, and it looks interesting.

Posted by: anonymous | May 18, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Man, wotta game. Woulda been nice if we'd won (just to shut up all the O's fans), but it sure as heck wasn't a blowout. Zim's blast in the 8th was just that -- a blast. That kid's gonna be fun to watch. And hopefully Dmitri will bring us some nice young talent when he's traded.

What I don't get is why Nook Logan didn't try for third in the 9th when Belliard hit that little tapper. Did the pitcher stare him down? I couldn't tell from the upper deck along the third base line.

And dunno if anyone noticed, but one of the birthday notices on the big board was for JimBow. Strangely enough, I couldn't hear any applause...

Posted by: Juan-John | May 18, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Man! Zimmerman almost, almost won one for the Nats, didn't he - too bad the guys in front of him were too impatient to let Ray walk them or groove one - maybe Logan should've tried to steal 3rd with Belliard up (a RH hitter in the way of a throw)! Arrgh!

Anyway, just so, so, so frustrating to lose to the Angelos! Until he is gone, I will wish only losses on his team - not so much after if Cal's group gets 'em.

Well, we still have 2 games to go...but no one to pitch!

Perhaps this will be the last year the O's get the best of our Nats. I sure hope so!

Posted by: Natswriter | May 18, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

The game was fun all the way -- except for the ending -- and never too far out of reach.

Trachsel was laboring early, but we couldn't keep the pressure on despite drawing some good counts.

Wish the Nats could've done a little more with Baez and Ray -- it was razor close much of the way against those guys.

It'll be interesting to see what Bacsik and our hitters can deliver tomorrow.

Posted by: Hendo | May 19, 2007 1:17 AM | Report abuse

Juan-John, re Nook's baserunning in the ninth, we noticed the same thing from our section (probably near yours). The consensus in 428 was that he should've gone.

Posted by: Hendo | May 19, 2007 1:20 AM | Report abuse

anyone else out there noticed that the reds finally filed a grievance over the majewski trade last year?

barry, give us some more info on this at some point.

Posted by: not a reds fan | May 19, 2007 3:10 AM | Report abuse

There's a story by Barry on the Majewski grievance in Nationals Notebook this morning.

On the facts as gathered and presented over the last ten months, it's not clear to me that there's a case for anything other than (a) the Reds not having done due diligence and (b) the Reds having to file within the 12 months after the trade to protect their rights. It will be interesting to learn what hidden facts and machinations lurk under the surface.

It would also be interesting to know what the grievance procedure provides for in the event damage is found to have been done: nullification of the deal, cash damages, and/or some sanction against the front-office official(s) involved? Also, what if it is found that the grievance procedure has been abused in this case -- could the Reds be liable for damages or sanctions?

There was an interesting case in English football a few weeks ago in which a club almost had points taken away from it in the standings because of an improper deal. Surely MLB doesn't provide for that... right?

Posted by: Hendo | May 19, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Re: Logan not going to third last night. From where I sat -- Section 417, which gives us a clear view up the third base line -- the catcher was going to the ball, and the third baseman began to move back towards third in case there was a throw. Logan hesitated, saw this, and decided to stay at second. Had he not hesitated -- i.e., gone on contact -- he might have made it. But it would have been close.

Posted by: Ashburn | May 19, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

IE: Logan

The last thing Logan wanted to do as the tying run was get thrown out at third base with the top of the order coming up. Once he hesitated and was not certain he could make it he needed to stay in scoring position. A single still would have scored him.

Posted by: overhead | May 19, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

"My problem is that you have guys like Glavine, Smoltz and Maddox that have been pitching game after game for 20 years, but our guys can't pitch 6 innings w/o going on the DL."

Posted by: Ed | May 18, 2007 09:15 PM

Amen. Too much reliance on the slider. Patterson and Bergman are both out with right elbow problems and Hill is tender there as well. Neither Glavine nor Maddux has ever relied upon the slider. Smoltz has and is IP relative to the other two are telling. Leo Mazzone's best work was when he told Mike Remlinger to drop a pitch from his repetoire (his slider, I believe) and made him into a consistent reliever. Another example is Zambrano contrasted with Prior and Wood. We need pitching coaches in the minor leagues teaching "location, location, location"- not so much "pitch selection" if we ever want to have a healthy staff.

Posted by: cmc no longer in Iowa (thank God!) | May 19, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Some pitchers -- for example, Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton -- have thrown the slider effectively throughout healthy careers.

Great forearm strength and precise, correct mechanics seem to be the distinguishing marks of the slider pitcher who avoids injury. Whether these can be expected of young pitchers such as the Nats' may be problematic. I'd love to hear Randy St. Claire's thoughts on the subject.

Posted by: Hendo | May 19, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Several things...

Barry, you say "Just when you thought it couldn't get much worse..." but it was more like we thought it was finally getting better.

I'm glad to see we're getting back to Bacsik. I've always liked him for some reason.

Swanni, man you are the conspiracy theorist's conspiracy theorist. You outperform in this respect, even for DC. ;)

Anonymous/thiscouldbetheyear, why, why? ... I know the schools need more attention, but someone threatens to make money in an entertainment industry and it is like blood in the water. Maybe your argument would be more convincing if you showed good estimated numbers of how much money that would provide? Maybe we should let the Learners run the team for the first decade (and see what happens) before we start to squeeze them, eh?

And finally ... why are today's pitchers so fragile? Is it really all because of the slider? Barry, can you get a sports ortho doc to explain it to us?

Posted by: i hate walks | May 19, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Hey Barry,

Has there been any talk about using Rauch as one of the emergency starters now that all of our rotation is on the DL? I know he didn't want to move into the starting rotation on a regular basis, but he clearly has the stuff to be a starter and could stabilize things while we wait for everyone to come off the DL.

Posted by: Brewer | May 19, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

The Rauch-as-emergency-starter idea is very attractive, but then you'd lose him out of the bullpen for some number of days. He's not a guy I'd want to do without for more than the occasional night off -- and remember, it's the 'pen that's been keeping these games close.

If Ayala were to make it back while we've still got other guys on the DL, I'd be a bit more comfortable with the notion of using Rauch for a spot start. For now, I'm loath to tinker much with the current formula. (Talk about snakebit.)

Posted by: Hendo | May 19, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I hate walks,
Well, do you have an answer? It does seem odd that the Nats' initial injury reports always say, "He'll just miss a game or two," and then -- bang! -- a few days later we hear that he's going on the Disabled List.

Posted by: swanni | May 19, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's fair to blame the pitchers' injuries on St. Claire. With the exception of Bergmann, who has been asked to pitch way more innings than he ever has before, Patterson, Hill, Wagner all have previous and recurring injuries. Some people are just more injury-prone than others, and we knew about all of them when we gave them jobs.

And, personally, I think that sitting Bergmann is actually a good sign on Manny's part. It's a proactive move meant to prevent injuries like the one that sidelined Hill for most of last season. So, carry on, Manny.

Posted by: Atlanta | May 19, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

>> I Hate Walks: And finally ... why are today's pitchers so fragile? <<

Tim McCarver was on XM yesterday morning, and he spoke a lot about all the pitchers who are on the DL. His solution: raise the mound back up to where it was pre-1968.

Why? With a flatter mound, pitchers have to put so much torque on their arms to create a diving effect. That would be less of a problem from a higher mound.

Interesting thought.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Atlanta, I think there are merits to parts of both arguments. Some injuries are bad luck, but we also know that a lot of young guys are being pushed real hard. The coaches' task is unenviable, because they have to field a roster while trying not to cripple guys or stunt careers. The lessons learned will provide guidance for future situations this season and in seasons following.

Meanwhile, if you want to meet a ballplayer, just head to BWI. One is sure to be on his way either to or from Columbus...

See you tonight at RFK.

Posted by: Hendo | May 19, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Was Bacsik already on the 40 man roster?
If not, who was taken off?

Posted by: Tom | May 19, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Why on earth are the Orioles announcers doing the game from RFK today. I hate MASN, Angelos, and his team. The last thing I want to hear during a Nats game at RFK is Orioles propoganda. What gives with this Barry?

Posted by: Nats Fan in KC | May 19, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse


... as far as I know, they simply moved Luis Ayala from the 15 to the 60 DL, with no real difference in his status. That made room for Mike B.

Posted by: david f watts | May 19, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Reds trade and Majewski, it seems that that trade is looking more equitable every day. Wagner seems like he might be a lost cause and Kerns is a complete mystery - for some reason his production is nosediving.

The team is hitting less than .230, which absolutely pathetic.

Posted by: Ed | May 19, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

These 1 run games are tough to lose, but it does beat those drubbings the first week or so of the season. Tough loss tonight, but chances for victory were there. What...nobody went on the disabled list after the game...well, hey, thats a victory in itself. Maybe we can bring back Dick Bosman to pitch tomorrow.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 19, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Bascik did a good job tonight, but he is NOT a handsome guy.

We need to see about bringing up some hotter players.

Posted by: on a lighter side.... | May 20, 2007 12:10 AM | Report abuse

I thought Bascik did a good job, too. He had a quality start and some feisty at-bats. Too bad he didn't get much run support.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 20, 2007 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to say that Chief's stuff was looking good, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 20, 2007 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Anybody else see Stan Kasten wandering the upper deck at Saturday's game? He was wearing a red Nats polo shirt. Looked pretty relaxed, so I went over and introduced myself and asked him whether the concessions at the new stadium would take credit cards. He said yes. I went back to my seat.

Then 2 minutes later it dawned on me that I had just spoken with the Nats' VP, and coulda kicked myself for not having asked a better question, like whether he'd seen that Internet open letter about giving the proceeds of ticket sales above a certain number this year to DC schools.


Posted by: Juan-John | May 20, 2007 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Painful tonight, but not particularly ugly. Bacsik acquitted himself well. Though he may not fit the textbook profile of a lights-out, high-strikeout pitcher, he does throw strikes and induce outs without expending ridiculous amounts of effort.

Translation: an innings-eater. If he has the ability to keep doing it while keeping his arm healthy, he's just what a team at this stage badly needs. Again, welcome aboard, Mike.

Nats hitters still need to work the pitchers as hard as they can. Against someone of Guthrie's ability, that's tough, but any time a weakness manifests itself, our guys need to exploit the daylights out of it.

Where was Stan in the upper deck? He didn't make it down to the front row of 428.

Lest we hang our heads, remember, we made it into extra innings... not good enough, but at this stage, an accomplishment.

Posted by: Hendo | May 20, 2007 1:59 AM | Report abuse

The Reds knew what they were doing with Kearns. He's a decent player, but not a star. A 15 home run, 70-75 RBI kind of guy. His Cincy stats were inflated by the ball park.

The real question: Why did the Nats sign him to three years? At some point, we need an outfielder who can hit the ball out of the park on a consistent basis. And right field is now locked up for three years.

Posted by: swanni | May 20, 2007 4:31 AM | Report abuse

... reflections on a disappointing loss:

- Bacsik is definitely worth keeping around. I don't know about you but I surely wasn't expecting the quality outing he provided. With four of five starters on the DL, we could do worse that putting Mike on the mound every time the spot comes around.

- the bullpen will soon implode if they have to keep carrying the team each day. It falls directly on the guys at the plate to help remedy this problem.

- I agree with swanni, and said so a few weeks ago. Austin Kearns is not the future of the Washington Nationals.

... we all hate to lose - I certainly do - but we are also quite clear about the position of this team. We (the Nats) will not win all the games we think we should, but as Hendo says, we do have it in us to acquit ourselves well, even in losing.

Posted by: david f watts | May 20, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Damning comment today in the Post article on high-profile free agent center fielders in 2008, such as Tori Hunter and Andruw Jones. Says the Nats' need for a star CF could be filled, but...

"The only limitation is the Nats owners' willingness to spend."

Article speculates that the Nats are more likely to sign a low-profile CF like Corey Patterson.

Does the Post know something we don't -- and isn't telling us in clear language? Maybe it's true that the Nats are not going to spend serious money in the coming years, despite suggestions to the contrary.

Posted by: swanni | May 20, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

It's fun to speculate on who the first big-impact signing could be for the renascent Nats, as Pudge was for Detroit.

Will that signing be at center field? Does it need to be? Center is an important defensive position, not necessarily a power position. It's awesome to see a Mays or an Andruw Jones field the position well *and* hit with amazing productivity, so I guess they're the kind of models we use to set expectations. Just let's keep those expectations realistic.

I'd have been a little surprised if the Post story hadn't mentioned Corey Patterson. It would've been helpful if the story had given the context of how he was run almost into the ground by the Cubs under Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker. Patterson might be a good guy to have around with guys like Chris Marrero and Justin Maxwell due up from the minors around 2010.

We do have to exercise a little patience. True, we only have to look 40 miles up the road to see futility in action, but that doesn't mean it's contagious.

Posted by: Hendo | May 20, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Andruw Jones is hitting .219 right now. Is that an aberration?

Posted by: Ed | May 20, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Andruw Jones is a slow starter in most seasons. Look it up.

Posted by: swanni | May 20, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, on this team, CF has to be a power position. We have a 15 home run guy in RF and maybe -- just maybe -- a 20 HR in LF. Plus, our 1B (whether it's Nick or Dimtri) is a 15-20 HR guy. Zim could be the same. We need power from somewhere.

Posted by: swanni | May 20, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

We need runs from somewhere, that's for sure. I don't see any indication that tons of runs are going to just come pouring out of the current lineup.

For whatever it's worth, though, we can be fairly sure that the current lineup is not the one we'll be looking at in May 2008. Or in August 2007, for that matter.

Meanwhile, maybe we can touch Bedard today. Barring that, there's always late-inning Smallball for a retro touch.

See you this afternoon at RFK.

Posted by: Hendo | May 20, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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