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Scott Olsen's turn, Ian Desmond's day off, Jason Marquis's struggles

Scott Olsen, as planned, will be called up from Class AAA Syracuse and start tomorrow's game. The Nationals will send down a reliever to make room for him, a decision they will announce after tonight's game. That means tonight will be the final day the Nationals have eight relievers to work with. Olsen, Riggleman believed, made the trip into Philadelphia tonight.

Olsen is effectively replacing Garrett Mock, who lasted only 3 1/3 innings in his first start of the season. Olsen had lost out to Mock at the end of spring training, but with a strong finish and a Class AAA start in which he allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings, Olsen convinced the Nationals he deserved a shot.

* * *
Ian Desmond will receive a day off tonight, with Cristian Guzman replacing him at shortstop. "Just moving guys around, keeping them sharp, keeping them active," Riggleman said. The manager reiterated his goal to give Adam Kennedy, Desmond and Guzman each about 450 at-bats this year. Kennedy might be off tomorrow, but that depends if Ryan Zimmerman plays.

Riggleman has a difficult task in ensuring all three receive ample playing time and stay fresh. The players have been cooperative so far, but Riggleman still must strike a balance.

"At some point, sometimes, these things kind of work themselves out," Riggleman said. "Things kind of play out, a couple players just end up not to be denied. They just force themselves in there, where you've got to put them in there every day. We haven't had that situation yet."

* * *
This afternoon, Riggleman met with starter Jason Marquis, who in his first two starts - both coming against the Phillies - is 0-2 with a 12.96 ERA and a 2.28 WHIP in just 8 1/3 innings. Marquis seemed to correct himself early in Monday's start, when he did not allow a hit in the first three innings. But the Phillies scored four runs in the fourth inning and five in the fifth to ruin his outing.

Riggleman's main message to Marquis was simple. He needs to keep the ball low in the strike zone, especially when pitching out of the stretch.

"After looking at the tape of the game, I really feel that he really made a lot of good pitches," Riggleman said. "He pitched fine. We're up 4-2, he goes out for the fifth. From that point on, the ball was up. When he got into the stretch, the ball was up. That's just not his style of pitching. He's a groundball pitcher."

Marquis said he is fine physically - "No issues there at all," he said - and concurred with Riggleman's assessment. Marquis wants to make a mechanical adjustment to keep the ball lower, and while upset with his start he feels there is time to make up for it.

"I mean, listen, you always hear guys saying, 'Oh it's spring training. Oh, it's early.' I still got 90 percent of my starts left," Marquis said. "Those are gone in the past. They are what they are what. I've got to look forward to these next 30-plus starts. There's still a lot of season left where I can still get positive results. I can't sit here be like, 'I want my ERA to come down.' I'm trying to win ballgames.

"You always want to get off to a good start. We trying to create a winning attitude here. We're trying to win some ballgames. The two times they gave me the ball, I let them down. It's frustrating. But I've been in that position before, and I've been able to bounce back from it."

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 14, 2010; 6:45 PM ET
 
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