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Bergmann To 'Pen, And Other Notes

After Jason Bergmann finished his off-the-mound throwing program today, he asked Manager Manny Acta a question fundamental to his season: "What am I?"

A starter, or a reliever?

Bergmann had a right to be uncertain. In 2008, he began as a starter, ended as a reliever. In the minors, he worked mostly as a reliever, but not as an absolute rule. This year, he had hoped to contend for a starting rotation spot, but the Nationals entered camp with a deep group of preferred candidates.

So, Acta gave Bergmann a straight-forward answer.

Said Acta: "I told him that he's looking to get a job as a middle-reliever."

(Bergmann's thoughts on the latest transition... "As long as it's positive for the team, I'm all about that," he said. "There are 30 pitchers here. Everybody is going for a role on the team, and I'd like to be one of them.)

Some additional notes.

* It's looking more and more like Washington will head to an arbitration hearing with outfielder Josh Willingham. I'm hearing that the two sides are still far apart on an agreement, and are now planning to meet at the scheduled Wednesday arbitration hearing in Arizona. Willingham is seeking $3.5 million for 2009. Washington is offering $2.55 million.

* It's not just P Jorge Sosa who has yet to arrive in camp (visa issues). Odalis Perez is also a no-show, and Washington is trying to get in touch with its newly-signed pitcher to figure out the problem, Acta said. That said, the absolute, final mandated report date doesn't come until February 22. Until then, Acta said, "we won't make a big deal of it."

* Daniel Cabrera has temporarily left camp as well. He departed yesterday afternoon for the Dominican Republic, where his wife is due to give birth via C-section today. Cabrera might be back in Viera by as early as tomorrow.

* Oh, and here's your second-hand account of the quick team meeting from this morning. Acta fills us in.

"Jim [Bowden] spoke to the guys and pretty much let them know what is going on here the last couple of years, where we had guys make our club all the way from Class A ball or six-year free agents coming here and doing what [Mike] Hinckley and [Steven] Shell did for us last year. ... Basically [I said] that last year is history, and the future is unknown and we have to get better right now in the present. Also I went over what Jim said, too, and that we do have some openings here. Baseball, or the Nationals, don't owe anybody here. Whatever they did last year has already been paid for. They need to come over here, work hard, and lock up a job."

The Nats brass intentionally kept the talk short. After all, the more formal team meeting comes later this week, when the clubhouse has its full roster.

Said Acta: "We didn't want to go on our full-blown John Wooden speech here."

By Chico Harlan  |  February 16, 2009; 3:29 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The First Workout? Yes, It Went Well
Next: Chatter Up! [Update]


I'm surprised they didn't have this talk with Bergmann a lot sooner. There is a world of difference in prepartation for starting vs the bullpen, if he knew he was pen or AAA he might have adjusted his off-season workout. WTG Jimbo...

Posted by: estuartj | February 16, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

----After discussing the need to improve fielding and base running, Acta said: "We have to compensate with those type of things with the lack of, I guess, amount of superstars or talent here. I'm trying to get these guys to do a lot of the stuff that some teams that are loaded with talent might not do."---

Injuries happen, but the Nats looked really bad at times by lacking some Little League fundamentals that Manny was criticized for. Lets hope that these fundamentals are addressed.

Sure some of it was horrific baserunning as a whole and some was being too aggressive, but here is the worst I saw which was Milledge on 2nd with less than 2 outs and nobody on first and the ball hit in front of him to the SS and Milledge ran and was easily thrown out at 3rd. This happened not once in 2008, but twice! Unacceptable.

Nats pitchers were pathetic bunters last year which is a fundamental all NL pitchers must be able to do. Unacceptable.

Outfielders missing their cutoffs. Unacceptable.

Nationals pitchers walking opposing pitchers. Unacceptable.

The opposing pitcher appears to be having control problems and walks a Nat. The next Nats player into the batter's swings at the 1st pitch to help the pitcher. Unacceptable.

It is Spring Training so please tell me these Little League fundamentals will be worked on. Chico, please give us an update. Thanks!

[Repost- With the Little League spelling mistakes corrected, I wanted to repost and say that I am glad you did like the content of the message!]

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 16, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I just want to say, "Amen," to frustration with Milledge's misguided efforts to get to 3rd base. I sit on the 3rd base side and there were definitely times when I was ready to jump to my feet, run toward the field, and kill him.

Posted by: dcbatgirl | February 16, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

And now Odalis wants to restructure his contract or else will stay home?

What's up with this Chico?? If he's going to be disgruntled, let him stay home. It's not like he had other offers, and we have kids that should be given the opportunity to pitch.

Posted by: osodani | February 16, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

"Nats pitchers were pathetic bunters last year which is a fundamental all NL pitchers must be able to do. Unacceptable."

Just you wait for Daniel Cabrera's first bunt. You ain't seen nothing yet.

Posted by: Bazz | February 16, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

@ osodani,
Good scoop on the Perez situation. Perez needs to understand the economics of the game have changed over the last 12 months. True, he came out of nowhere & put in a solid season in '08, but with the guys this team has in camp competing for a job for a team that is not looking to contend in '09, he better have some backup options else, he will be playing catchup when & if he finds a deal to his liking...

Posted by: -CN- | February 16, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow, on MLBtraderumors, there is a link to this article from when Odalis was a Dodger (6/9/06). I don't know if I want him back!

Odalis No Idealist

Odalis Perez, roughed up by the Mets on Wednesday in his first start in more than a month, said he did not think he pitched poorly and that he was upset at the suggestion that mechanical issues led to his demotion.

Though Little said after Wednesday's game Perez would make his next scheduled start, he would not commit to either Perez or Jae Seo starting the next time the fifth spot in the rotation comes up. Little said he would skip the spot because of Monday's off day.

It doesn't appear that Perez's discontent would be mollified by remaining in the rotation.

He stopped his O's 45's program, in which he bought 45 tickets for inner-city school children to attend his starts, after losing his starting job. He said he would not reinstate the program now that he is starting again because he felt he never got enough credit from the club or the public for his charitable contributions.

"When you spend your own money you want to be recognized for that," Perez said. "I don't want to be a hero, but just pay more attention to what I'm doing. People don't want to give me the recognition for it."

Posted by: goexpos2 | February 16, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the others. Don't try to enforce the contract, just let Perez stay home. The Nats need to have players who want to be here.

Posted by: AshburnVA | February 16, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I think Perez chance of making the rotation is less than 3-1 against. If Hill is healthy he takes the 5th slot (i'm betting Olsen/Lanna/Cabrera/Balester) and even if Hill is injured I think Perez chances of beating out Zimmermann are less than 50/50.

Long story short, piss off Odalis.

Posted by: estuartj | February 16, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Man, the minor league aspect of the deal was the best part, too - at least for the Nats. It gives them a safeguard in case the FO feel like Balester and/or Zimmermann could use some more seasoning. But you could also send Odalis packing if it looks like either absolutely needs to be in the bigs.

I really like an Olsen/Hill/Perez/Lannan/Cabrera rotation, but I'm more than willing to let one of the youngsters jump in. Opening Day was a great moment, but it was Zimmerman who minted it, not Odalis.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 16, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree. Let Odalis stay home. During this tough economy there are pro teams laying off support staff, and maybe guys like Odalis don't realize we are in a serious recession.

I feel far worse for the $50,000 per year administrative assistant that got laid off then Odalis Perez.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 16, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

If Odalis thinks he agreed to a bad deal, fine, let him walk. No need for a sour attitude possibly tainting the clubhouse, and no need to re-negotiate; the team has 15 other possible starters in camp & ready to go.

Posted by: BinM | February 16, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I am disappointed mainly because I enjoyed reading the analyses which compared Odalis Perez as practically equivalent to Randy Wolf, but for very much less money.

Beyond that, I imagine that Perez does not rate highly when it comes to "replacement value" for pitchers. nobody who played on a 102-loss team has a right to be a prima donna.

Posted by: kevincostello | February 16, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Semi-off topic, but I don't see any way short of a total collapse that Balester doesn't make the rotation. If we send him to AAA he'd have to stay almost the whole summer there to avoid hitting arbitration after '11 so the team is better off to play him in the majors and see what he can do than to ship him to SYR.

If he plays himself out of a starting job that's one thing, but there isn't much advantage to demoting him for "seasoning".

Posted by: estuartj | February 16, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse


Whoa, big fella - I don't think anyone has said Balester should go down to SYR. The #4 & #5 slots in the rotation are there for the taking, and with Odalis possibly out of the picture, the competition just got a little tighter.
Olsen, Lannan & Cabrera are near-locks for #1-#3, but #4-#5 are open for Hill, Martis, Clippard, or Detwiler, with Atilano, Bergmann, Estrada & JZimm (non-roster) as long-shots; the SP-STI's will either get re-assigned to the minors (JZimm, maybe others) or released. FWIW, Bergmann & Estrada will probably make the 2009 staff as relief pitchers, and Atilano will get a fairly quick ticket to either PAT or HAR.

Posted by: BinM | February 16, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse


What's going on with R.Zimmerman?
Find out will ya?!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | February 16, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

@estuartj (cont'd):

Unless, as you say, Balester 'tanks' in Viera, he will be either the #4 or #5 SP in the 2009 Nationals' rotation.

Posted by: BinM | February 16, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

BinM, I disagree - if Balester doens't completely suck eggs he'll be in the rotation. Spot #5 is open for Hill if healthy or any one of the guys you mentioned, with my money on Zimmermann.

BTW Bergmann is a reliever now (see title of this post) and no matter how well Detwiler is doing (see previous post) he would have to have the mother of all spring trainings to make the big league club.

Posted by: estuartj | February 16, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

BinM, are we disagreeing or not? I'm so confused...

Posted by: estuartj | February 16, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

OK, recap;

"I really like an Olsen/Hill/Perez/Lannan/Cabrera rotation," johninmpls

"I don't see any way short of a total collapse that Balester doesn't make the rotation." estuartj

"I don't think anyone has said Balester should go down to SYR." BinM

BinM - we agree, now johninmpls, your turn!

Posted by: estuartj | February 16, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse


No disagreement, per se - Balester is in the rotation (as a #4 or #5), Bergmann is (most likely) in the bullpen, and the rest scrap it out for one slot in the rotation to start the season.

Posted by: BinM | February 16, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering how much Hill's throwing session today would influence their decision on O.Perez? If he looks like he can be effective and pain free, why give Perez guaranteed money? Also I assume that if we gave him what he wants he would have to be added to the (now full) 40 man, so who would you risk to waivers to amek room for Perez? WMP would be my bet, but I doubt they give in to Perez at all.

Posted by: estuartj | February 16, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

As others have noted, they shouldn't give in to O. Perez. If he doesn't want to be here, who needs the drama?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 16, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow. just "wow."

"When you spend your own money you want to be recognized for that," Perez said. "I don't want to be a hero, but just pay more attention to what I'm doing. People don't want to give me the recognition for it."

Posted by: goexpos2 | February 16, 2009 5:06 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 16, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: estuartj | February 16, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

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