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Get Your Catcher's Mitt, Pete Orr

As a major leaguer, Pete Orr has played second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. In the minor leagues, he's also pitched and played center field. But Orr figures that adding one more position to his repertoire -- yes, an eighth -- will help his chances of sticking with the Washington Nationals next season.

When the regular season ends, Orr will be sent to Viera, Fla., to learn how to catch. He will play in Florida Instructional League, perhaps even catching Stephen Strasburg. ("Oh yeah, no problem," Orr said grinning.)

A little more than a week ago, coach Tim Foli suggested the possibility to General Manager Mike Rizzo. Already, Rizzo had been thinking about his organization's catching depth -- or rather, it's lack thereof. He took the idea to Orr, who jumped at the chance.

"Anything to give myself a better chance to be in the big leagues, I'll do it at the drop of a hat," Orr said.

Though Orr will never become a full-time catcher, Washington hopes that the 30-year-old can prevent an emergency. Indeed, the team almost encountered such a problem Thursday night. When Wil Nieves pulled his left hamstring, a gimpy Josh Bard was the last catcher standing on the 40-man roster.

"So what if Bard takes a foul-tip off the finger, let's say, and who catches?" Rizzo said. "That's the role we see [for Orr]."

Even before this development, Orr has had an interesting season, playing exclusively in Class AAA until his promotion on Aug. 28. Though he hit just .245 (412 at-bats) with Syracuse, he is 15 for 44 (.341) with Washington.

"Pete, he's opened our eyes on the big league level," Rizzo said. "He's played well, but he plays that way kind of day-in and day-out, and though his numbers weren't stellar in Class AAA, he gives you that consistent effort every day."

Meantime, the Nationals are trying to get by without Orr behind the plate. With Nieves out for a few days -- Nieves, a self-described quick healer, said that he should be ready to play again by Tuesday -- the Nationals were awaiting the arrival of newly acquired back-up Jamie Burke. Around 5 p.m., Burke landed at John F. Kennedy Airport, hoping to arrive at Citi Field just before game time. Interim manager Jim Riggleman wasn't sure if Burke would start a game in this three-game series.

"I don't know when Wil will be back," Riggleman said. "It should be Tuesday, but if it's Friday, I'd want to make sure that Burke can catch a game or two. Depending on how he feels he may even get in there this weekend."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 18, 2009; 7:05 PM ET
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From Super-Willy to Super-Orr?

Posted by: swang30 | September 18, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

This is an interesting development. IF (and that's a Big IF) it works out reasonably well, then Orr gains a little more value & another chance to extend his career.

Posted by: BinM | September 18, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals' starting pitchers seem to need a little work on working BOTH sides of the plate. Lannan & Livo can do it, but some of the others (Mock, Detwiler, & Martin, in particular) seem to work the outside portion of the plate to excess. An occaisional pitch inside can set up the next pitch or two, if a pitcher works quickly on the mound.

Posted by: BinM | September 18, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Pete Orr the 2010 version of Robert Fick, is that something is worth looking forward to?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 18, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Tippy: In SYR, probably - In WSH, who can tell?

Posted by: BinM | September 18, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

POrr is a smart guy. Any way to get on the 25 man roster!

Posted by: dmacman88 | September 18, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Bergmann continues to give the Nats every reason to non-tender him for next season.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 18, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Yikes - What an ending. MacDougal did his best Cordero imitation, and the Nats' end up with the "curly W in the books".

Posted by: BinM | September 18, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I turned the game on when it was 6-2, one out in the bottom of the ninth, thinking I would just catch the final two outs. Wow. Nearly had a heart attack watching. Nice work with the final out by MacDougal (well, the block, not the pitch itself).

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | September 18, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, my blood pressure must have been through the roof in that last inning. Glad that it worked out in the end, but geez, Mac.

Earlier, I was laughing at Bard trying to roll over after the double play at the plate. He looked like a turtle on its back. Good game, though, Josh(es).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 18, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Every appearance by MacDougle is an exercise in restraint for me in my never ending attempts to keep from tossing the the F-Bomb in front of my 10 year old son. How many games are left? I may need to stop watching.
Then again, having my son watch is borderline child abuse...

Posted by: TimDz | September 18, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

That's funny, TimDz.

On another note, did those giveaway batting helmets look goofy, or what? The kids looked fine but the adults...ummm...

Note to self: Should the Nats ever have a batting helmet giveaway, do not, under any circumstances, don one for public consumption.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 18, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Nats win baseball game ...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 18, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

New post -- that'll be six bits, bub.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 18, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

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