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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.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 24, 2010; 11:47 PM ET
 | Tags: Collin Balester, J.D. Martin, Livan Hernandez, Nats 2010, Nats-Brewers, bullpen  
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Riggleman mismanaged his bullpen again ... he needed to keep Batista fresh for Sunday. Instead he used him when Bally faltered and double-switched his way to another loss. Now he says he is a little strapped?

Bally doesn't look good at all. They need to get Zimmermann up and into the rotation by next week, not "Ballystar", and definitely NOT Marquis.

Posted by: periculum | July 25, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Oh Lord, please help my Nats. I know from the Angels in the Outfield remake that you can't help them win the title, but please keep them in game tomorrow. Then again, if they're gonna just tie and lose... Never mind. 10-1, what's the difference?

Posted by: nats24 | July 25, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Given the events of last night and the decision to keep Balester, would the Nats reasonably rethink starting Detwiler, and giving Chico a quick call? I hope it's already happened. The Nats need a starter who isn't locked in to going just 5 innings

Posted by: nats24 | July 25, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Chico went seven innings on Friday, you can rule him out (Detwiler went seven on Wednesday)

Posted by: Brian_ | July 25, 2010 6:31 AM | Report abuse

um, I don't recall Balester walking a batter but I do recall him beaning one (kind of hard to forget that one - hope that Weeks is okay).

nats24, I seem to recall from the movie that the angels won't come if the players say bad words. I'm not the best lip reader, but I wouldn't count on those angels showing up... ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 25, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

If Detwiler lasts 5 innings, it's not a dire situation. Monday is an off day.

Posted by: zadok1 | July 25, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Riggleman mismanaged his bullpen again ... he needed to keep Batista fresh for Sunday. Instead he used him when Bally faltered and double-switched his way to another loss. Now he says he is a little strapped? Posted by: periculum | July 25, 2010 12:33 AM |

The constant complaints about Riggs from many posters are unfair, as they only look at one side of the equation--the baseball side. What about the financial side? Where (other than Riggs) are you going to find a guy with that experience who is willing to work for so little? You have to look at what is most important to the Nats, and not just at the baseball implications.

Posted by: EdDC | July 25, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Can someone please provide any explanation as to why Collin Ballester is in the major leagues, even for a day? Is there no one better in the whole organization than a guy who has an ERA over 7 runs a game in triple A?

Posted by: raymitten | July 25, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

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