Bray Makes A Solid First Impression

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 12, 2006

Bill Bray's home town of Toano, Va., is less than three hours from RFK Stadium, so when the rookie left-hander made his first appearance for the Washington Nationals at home on Friday night, he had a smattering of fans on hand. Yesterday, that continued when Bray worked a scoreless eighth inning in the Nationals' 6-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, a weekend in which the 23-year-old established himself as an important part of the bullpen.

"It was a wonderful experience," Bray said.

Yesterday's performance was a bit more shaky than the nine-up, nine-down, three-inning outing that was a key to Friday night's 12-inning victory. After a two-out single to Bobby Abreu and a walk to Pat Burrell, Bray got Phillies slugger Ryan Howard to chase a nasty breaking pitch out of the strike zone, his second strikeout of Howard in two at-bats against him.

"He's a stud," catcher Robert Fick said. "He's got a great arm and a pretty tight little slider."

Manager Frank Robinson said he would now feel comfortable throwing Bray, called up when left-hander Joey Eischen went on the disabled list with a rotator cuff injury, into difficult situations. Bray -- who has now allowed two hits and no runs in 6 1/3 innings of work, striking out five -- was asked if he felt he has proved himself.

"I definitely feel like I can pitch up here," Bray said. "I know I can pitch up here."

Guillen on Trade Alert

Jose Guillen, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since coming off the disabled list and went 2 for 3 with two RBI and two doubles, said he is aware that he could be traded before the July 31 deadline.

"If I get traded, it's not going to be the first time," said Guillen, who has played for seven major league teams. His preference, though, is to remain in Washington, and he said "maybe I made a mistake" when he turned down a four-year offer from the Nationals earlier in the season.

"I really love this team," he said. "I can't say anything bad about the organization." . . .

Fick was Friday night's hero, driving in his first run as a National with a game-winning single in the bottom of the 12th. Fick followed with his second start as a catcher yesterday, and he went 2 for 4 with his first homer, a solo shot in the eighth.

"I feel like I'm part of this team now," Fick said. . . .

The Nationals collected 5,800 pounds of food during their three-day food drive to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.

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