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Comings and goings

We've got two high-profile individuals returning to Nationals Park tonight.

One is Odalis Perez, pitching for the first time in almost a month. Initially -- in typical Nationals fashion -- few thought Perez would miss so much time. He missed one start, and then the team scheduled him to pitch on June 14 against Seattle... but oops, his shoulder still hurt too much, though Perez said at the time he'd miss just one more start... but oops again, the team put him on the disabled list, and only yesterday was he eligible to come off.

Anyway, now he's back, and his addition comes at a welcome time. The Nats need another stable arm in the rotation, especially now that Shawn Hill (whose own stability looked highly dubious in recent weeks) is on the DL.

Perez, by the way, will probably be kept to an 80-pitch limit tonight.

The other person returning to the ballpark is Steve Yanda, who will be operating tonight at Nats Park with no pitch count limit whatsoever. He's filling in for me. I'll be at the 9:30 Club for a Pat Green concert. I'm certain Ryan Langerhans wanted to be there, too, but Columbus is playing Indianapolis tonight, and Steve Yanda can't play left field.

By the way, tonight's game marks the season's half-way point.

Last year at this time, the Nationals were 33-48. (And 40-41 in the second half.)

This year, depending on the outcome tonight, they'll be either 31-50 or 32-49. Win tonight, and they won't be on pace to lose 100 games. (Does that previous sentence deserve an exclamation point? Wasn't sure.)

Final thing. Here's the story I wrote for today's paper. I tried to capture the essence of this team's clubhouse dynamics, which are interesting if only because 1.) the Nats have lost so many vets because of injury; 2.) they are losing, and losing breeds misery. Paul Lo Duca might be the best uninjured leader this team has right now.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 27, 2008; 9:18 AM ET
 
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