King and Bowden on the move
Straight from each of them. But first, some numbers.
Ray King had a 5.68 ERA in 12 appearances for the Nationals this year. Left-handed hitters were hitting .235 off him, right-handed hitters .500.
Mike O'Connor was 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA for the Columbus Clippers, where he was a starter. He'll now be in the bullpen. In 2006 with the Nationals, O'Connor went 3-8 with a 4.80 ERA in 21 appearances, 20 of them starts.
What did Bowden and/or Acta tell you?: "First nothing was told to me. I just talked to Bowden, and I guess the way to sum it up is the team is 5-16 or 17, and being a left-handed specialist, there's no need. We got guys in the bullpen who only go one and two innings. When you're not winning ballgames, a left-handed specialist is expendable."
What is next for you?: "The way it's going to work right now is I'm going to take today and the next day and really talk to my family, talk to my agent and see what's out there. I don't want to make a decision and say something that could hinder me from doing some other things. Right now I'm not upset about anything. If I don't go to another team and I have to go home I've had a great career. I've had a chance to pitch for great teams, mediocre teams, had a chance to go to the World Series. Maybe I'll become one of you guys now." (Much laughter.)
But you wouldn't go to Class AAA?: "I'm not going to say I wouldn't go. Like I said, I'm going to take the next couple days and see if I can possibly I guess ask for a trade somewhere. I would like to go somewhere else in the big leagues. I wouldn't like to go somewhere else in the minor leagues. The time I had here, I appreciate it. I'll say it like this: I don't want to go to Triple A. I'll say it like that. I'm not saying I won't."
Are you confident you can pitch in the big leagues?: "I look at it like this: There's guys out there with numbers that are worse than mine. Last night I gave up two squibblers and I get banged for two runs and today I'm out of a job. I still feel like, I look around the league, and not to toot my own horn, but I look at some guys - Chase Utley's 0 for 3 or 4 against me this year. Ryan Howard, Delgado. I gave up a hit to Church, and I think the only one that hit me hard is Santana. At least he's got a Cy Young."
"As a pitcher, you're going to have ups and downs. I go from being one of the bright spots in Atlanta, getting Chipper and Teixeira to last night I give up two squibblers, and I'm the guinea pig. It's called being a pitcher. I still feel like I can pitch at this level. I feel like I don't have to prove a whole lot. But if it's at the point where this is the end of my career, I'm going to walk away with a happy career."
"A lot of guys would like to have one day, and I got close to eight years."
What went into this decision?: "O'Connor's throwing extremely well down there. He pitched well in the spring. We're very pleased with how he's throwing. His velocity has come back from the surgery of a couple years ago. Our bullpen is such that right now, the way we are, we don't have a lot of innings in the bullpen, which has been a problem. If a pitcher gets knocked out early in the game, we don't really have a long guy to come eat those innings. That compounded with the problem that Chad's not been closing, everyone's been put in a position that's not their perfect role.
"So our feeling is Mike gives us a long guy right now that can help put people back in their role and not tax guys for the games you're trying to win. So the luxury of having a lefty specialist isn't real important in the games we're playing right now as it normally would be."
What happens now with King?: "We've optioned the player. He has 72 hours to report, per the basic agreement. He's a five-plus player that had given up prior consent to a move, so we had 45 days from the end of spring training to send him out, and he agreed to accept an assignment. So we've optioned it."
O'Connor is a starter ultimately?: "We think in the long run he's a starter."
He had fallen off the radar, what do you think of the comeback?: "It's good. We all saw him pitch a couple of impressive outings a couple of years ago. We saw the makings of what could be a solid starting pitcher in the big leagues, and he's pitched that well in Triple A. He deserves that shot."
Expect anything different: "I think so. I think he's got more bite on his breaking ball. I think he commands the ball better on both sides of the plate. His velocity's more than what you saw a couple years ago. I think he's really starting to get it."
King had mentioned taking 72 hours and decide what he would do, he said one possibility would be to ask for a trade. What's your view of that?: "I'm always open to making our club better. I'm always open to making a trade that makes our organization better."
Reyes -- 6
Castillo -- 4
Wright -- 5
Beltran -- 8
Church -- 9
Delgado -- 3
Pagan -- 7
Casanova -- 2
Perez -- 1
Lopez -- 4
Guzman -- 6
Zimmerman -- 5
Kearns -- 9
Pena -- 7
Boone -- 3
Harris -- 8
Nieves -- 2
Hill -- 1
April 24, 2008; 5:57 PM ET
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