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A battery debuts

OK, I'm putting out a challenge. Anybody with a predilection for trivia, arcana or research has the chance to make my day. If you've got dinner plans soon, don't even try.

I'm trying to figure out when a major league team last had both its starting pitcher and catcher making their major league debuts in tandem. That's what the Nats have tonight, as Luke Montz catches Shairon Martis.

Manny Acta had indicated even yesterday that Montz would catch tonight. Montz made sure that just about his entire family tree made the trip from Louisiana to Atlanta. His parents are here; his girlfriend is here; his brother is here -- 15 people total. That includes two surprise visitors, and Montz is hoping one of those is his grandfather, just diagnosed with lung cancer.

Montz had all the pre-game jitters today in the clubhouse, but he's comforted by his familiarity with Martis, acquired by the Nats on July 2006 in a trade with San Francisco for Mike Stanton.

"Two years ago when he first got traded over from the Giants, he made it over to [Class A] Potomac that year, and we've been together since then," Montz said. "That whole season, and last year in Class AA, and this whole season. He left for Class AAA a little bit before I did, but pretty much this whole season we've been together."

Martis is only 21. Acta today emphasized that the team sees him as a future starter: "We're not auditioning him for our bullpen next year. He's not necessarily here just so we can put him in the 'pen next year. He just earned the promotion, and we're going to see him. We still think of him as a starter."

Martis is from Curacao (or, as Nats Park Clint says, ker-A-ko). He threw seven hitless innings during his one appearance -- representing the Netherlands -- in the World Baseball Classic. In 2007, he led all Nats minor leaguers in wins (14) and innings pitched (151). He represented the Netherlands this summer again in Beijing, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. Hopefully his pitching is more of a finished product than his unofficial Web site.


A few other notes...

* Shawn Hill will have arthroscopic right elbow surgery tomorrow afternoon in Pensacola, Fla., performed by Dr. James Andrews. We'll know more tomorrow about whether ossified build-up around there can be cleaned out.

* Collin Balester, who had been scratched from his start (scheduled for Friday) because of a mild left glut strain, thinks he'll be ready to go by Tuesday, when the team opens its series against the Mets. But nothing is set yet. Balester said he thinks his injury occurred when he was warming up before his recent start. During one delivery in the bullpen, his leg slipped a bit. "It slipped one time," Balester said. "That's the only thing I could think of what it might be."

* Jim Bowden said today that Dmitri Young (currently rehabbing with Class A Vermont) will join the team Sunday night, meaning he'll be in uniform on Tuesday. He'll almost certainly come off the bench. "He may give Manny a switch hitter off the bench," Bowden said. "I think we're all very pleased with what Ronnie Belliard has done and Aaron [Boone] has done, but I'm sure Manny will work him in. I don't know what we're expecting. I don't think we'll know until he gets up here and we see him."


Oh, one more thing...

Revised Nats lineup...

Harris -- 7
Guzman -- 6
Zimmerman -- 5
Milledge -- 8
Belliard -- 3
Dukes -- 9
Hernandez -- 4
Montz -- 2
Martis -- 1

By Chico Harlan  |  September 4, 2008; 6:34 PM ET
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Next: Ronnie Belliard: right groin strain


The Giants had rookies Kurt Ainsworth come in to pitch and Yorvit Torrealba come in to catch in a game on 9/5/2001 in the 9th inning.

Both entered in the 9th inning.

Posted by: Bob Timmermann | September 4, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Why am I not surprised that Clint butchers the pronunciation of Martis' homeland? He doesn't seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer, after all.

Posted by: Shocker | September 4, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Chico, I think there's more competition tonight than dinner plans. This will probably be the least-watched game of the Nats' season given the other options.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 4, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Ben Petrick and Luther Hackman, Rockies, 1999.

I cheated - Bob and Don just mentioned it.

Posted by: sid bluntley | September 4, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

There's something else on TV tonight? Huh.

BTW, Debbie Taylor just answered your question, Chico.
Colorado, 9/1/99 Luther Hackman (sp?)pitching, and Ben Petrick (sp?) catching.

Posted by: Section 138 | September 4, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

"I cheated - Bob and Don just mentioned it."

Oh really? Which one of them dresses in drag and plays the Debbi Taylor character on MASN?

Posted by: wait, don't answer that | September 4, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Meh, I like to think that other Nats fans are football hating Democrats like me. There's nothing else on TV tonight!

Posted by: Thor | September 4, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Why watch the Redskins go to another loss? Follow the Nats, at least they might win...

And I'll be home in time to catch the convention, political junkie that I am.

Posted by: SF Fan | September 4, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I stopped at the bar just to ask what game that was on TV. Stayed for a little schadenfreude as the Giants stomped all over the first quarter, and came home to Charlie y Dave the rest of the story.

Posted by: CE | September 4, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse


Washington Humane Society Launches a New Program Working with Soldiers Recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center

It is my honor to announce the launch of the Washington Humane Society’s (WHS) “Dog Tags”, a very unique and inspiring program which brings together wounded Soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with homeless dogs in the District who are awaiting new homes.

Throughout my career in animal welfare I’ve had a special place in my heart for animal assisted therapy – there is nothing more satisfying than enabling people and animals in need of healing to come together. When I arrived at the WHS last year, I saw that the Soldiers from Walter Reed – located just a few blocks from our Georgia Avenue animal shelter – would magnetically gravitate toward our dogs as they were out daily walks with our staff.

Shortly thereafter I had the privilege of touring the hospital and campus at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I was impressed by the amazing facility, the compassion of the Walter Reed staff and most of all the bravery of the Soldiers in the midst of recovery.

Our Director of Training and Behavior, Kevin Simpson, shared my vision for a program whereby WHS could give back to the Soldiers at Walter Reed. Over the next several weeks, he and I visualized and fine-tuned concepts for our program that would benefit the soldiers in a meaningful way—and equally important, feasible and within the grasps of the new WHS Behavior & Training Department.

We decided to start with a three-tiered program which would teach the Soldiers the basics of dog training, with a certificate based curriculum that would give them an opportunity to pursue a future career in the field of animal training, care, and welfare. The beauty of the program is that in the process of gaining skills for themselves, the Soldiers provide the homeless animals in our care with training and nurturing as well.

After much preparation and extensive work with the fine staff at Walter Reed, we submitted a proposal and ultimately were given the green light to begin our WHS Dog Tags program. We were thrilled to see our ideas come to fruition when we launched the first level of the course just a few months ago.

The first group of Soldiers to volunteer in our program was comprised of both men and women who met at the Behavior & Learning Center twice a week to learn and study animal behavior and training. Each tier of the program is certificate based and lasts for eight weeks, sequentially building upon the prior level. Upon completion of the 3rd level the soldiers will have the tools and skill-sets necessary to pursue a professional career working with animals. We are now thrilled to welcome our second group of Soldiers starting in the program next week – and we are told there is a significant waiting list.

I’ve always believed that in addition to adopting out animals and protecting them from cruelty, it's important to have programs that bring people and animals together in meaningful ways. Please help us to continue to do this important work and make a donation today by visiting

Thank you so much – we are deeply grateful for your support.


Lisa LaFontaine
President and CEO
Washington Humane Society

Posted by: ce | September 4, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

If anybody is out there tonight...

Yes, Debbi got it right. Nats PR man Mike Gazda got an answer from the Elias Sports Bureau and passed it along to us media types.

The last time a starting P and C both made their debuts in the same game was Sept. 1, 1999 for Colorado, when Ben Petrick was the catcher and Luther Hackman was the pitcher.

Posted by: Chico Harlan | September 4, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

"The last time a starting P and C both made their debuts in the same game..."

As opposed to the last time they both made their debuts in different games?

Posted by: We pray for Ronnie Belliard's groin and for his family | September 4, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

"Martis is from Curacao (or, as Nats Park Clint says, ker-A-ko)"

Please tell me you're kidding.

OK, I know -- nobody's born knowing this [stuff]. Still.

I guess we should be pleasantly surprised he didn't pronounce it "shih-KAW-go."

Posted by: c'mon, not even Barry is reading this tonight | September 4, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

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