J.D. Martin on disabled list; Collin Balester staying; bullpen in rough shape
The Nationals placed starting pitcher J.D. Martin on the 15-day disabled list with after the bulging discs in his lower back flared up Saturday night, forcing him from his start in the third inning.
In the second inning, Martin felt shooting pain in his right leg after it landed during the follow through of a pitch. Martin remained in the game, partly because he has pitched with some variation of the lower back strain for months. In late April, Martin missed two starts for Class AAA Syracuse but did not go on the disabled list.
"I've been dealing with it kind of all year," Martin said. "This was a little bit different feeling, but pretty much the same thing."
At first, the Nationals were going to further evaluate Martin and see if he could avoid the disabled list. But it was clear Martin would miss at least one start, with an overtaxed bullpen the Nationals could not afford to carry Martin on their roster.
"I'm a little disappointed obviously to hear that, but I wasn't too surprised," Martin said. "I kind of suspected that I'd miss the next start."
Martin's truncated start left the Nationals bullpen, having thrown 9 2/3 innings in two days, in tatters. After initially deciding to option Collin Balester back to Class AAA Syracuse hours after recalling him for Saturday's game only, the Nationals changed course and kept Balester with the club.
On Saturday, Balester made his first relief appearance since the Nationals switched him to the bullpen full-time this spring. Balester allowed two hits, including a solo home run to Jim Edmonds, and a walk in two innings.
"I felt good," Balester. "Obviously, it's a new experience for me coming out of the bullpen. It's an honor to come up and be a part of it. Anytime you don't have to pay to come into the stadium, it's pretty cool."
The Nationals' need for arms in the bullpen Sunday is stark because Ross Detwiler will make his 2010 debut on three days' rest and will be limited to five innings. The Nationals, in a pinch, may resort to using Livan Hernandez for an inning or two even though he threw a complete game Thursday.
Hernandez is planning to throw his customary 100-pitch bullpen session, anyway. "Yeah, I'll do it," Hernandez said. "I'm going to throw 100 pitches, anyway. It could be nice."
Drew Storen, who surrendered the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth Saturday, said he would be able to pitch. Joel Peralta, Sean Burnett and Matt Capps are the only three Nats relievers who did not pitch Saturday. Manager Jim Riggleman said Miguel Batista will be available, too.
"We could be a little a strapped," Riggleman said.
July 24, 2010; 11:47 PM ET
| Tags: Collin Balester, J.D. Martin, Livan Hernandez, Nats 2010, Nats-Brewers, bullpen
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