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Maldonado goes on DL; Burke called up

The Nationals placed catcher Carlos Maldonado on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with right thumb fracture. The team called up catcher Jamie Burke from Class AAA Syracuse to fill Maldonado's roster spot.

With a runner on first in the bottom of the fifth inning, Houston left fielder Carlos Lee tipped a pitch that ricocheted off Maldonado's thumb. Maldonado continued to play until he was pinch-hit for in the top of the ninth.

"I was concerned that there might be a little break in there because it seems like anything that happens to people's hands, once they get X-rayed a couple times they usually find something in there," Manager Jim Riggleman said Saturday.

Maldonado said adrenaline dulled the pain in his thumb immediately after the game, but the appendage started to bother him on the flight back to the District. By the time the flight landed, Maldonado's thumb was throbbing. He tried to grip a ball, but couldn't.

X-rays taken Friday revealed a crack on the tip of Maldonado's right thumb. Riggleman said Maldonado can swing a bat, but still can't grip a ball enough to throw.

Burke, 38, began the season on the disabled list, but batted .278 (5 for 18) in six games for Syracuse.

The Nationals also unconditionally released catcher Chris Coste on Saturday. The team had acquired Coste off waivers from the New York Mets on March 29. On April 4, Coste underwent season-ending right elbow surgery and was placed on the disabled list.

Called up on May 25, Maldonado batted .273 (3 for 11) in four games with one home run and three RBI. With Ivan Rodriguez out with a lower back strain, Maldonado marks the second catcher the Nationals have lost due to injury in less than two weeks.

As he headed out to the field Saturday, Maldonado, 31, held the web of an infield glove with his right ring and pinkie fingers. Mostly a minor league player throughout his career, Maldonado expressed frustration that his latest big league stint was interrupted by something out of his control.

"Even though I know the situation and anything could have happened after Pudge came back, I was starting to feel a lot better around the plate and I was getting to know the guys pitching and what they have," Maldonado said. "It kind of sucks that now I've got to be on the DL because of an injury."

By Steve Yanda  |  June 5, 2010; 5:29 PM ET
 
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