Bergmann Is Pressed Into Starting Role

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 12, 2006

When Jason Bergmann last appeared for the Washington Nationals, he allowed two runs in a relief appearance against the Florida Marlins in early July. After the game, he was sent back to Class AAA New Orleans, toting along an ERA of 8.14.

But in the past two weeks, the Nationals converted Bergmann back to a role he was familiar with in high school and in college at Rutgers. Tonight, he'll take the mound as the starter against the New York Mets, the second time he'll start a major league game.

"It's another option for me," Bergmann said. "Anytime you give yourself another option, you improve your chance of staying. . . . I'm ready to start. I'm ready to relieve. I'm ready to do whatever they want me to do."

For now, it'll be starting, because the Nationals traded Livan Hernandez to Arizona, and starters John Patterson, Mike O'Connor and Shawn Hill -- among others -- are on the disabled list. Bergmann, who went 3-1 in four starts for Class AAA New Orleans, said he has thrown between 80 and 95 pitches each time out.

His only major league start came last September against Atlanta, when the Nationals' rotation was similarly decimated by injuries. He lasted only two innings and gave up two runs.

New Minority Internship Program

The Nationals announced yesterday that they will begin a minority internship program next fall, one modeled after a program team president Stan Kasten set up when he was with the Atlanta Braves. Between five and 10 candidates will be selected and begin work at the Nationals' instructional league in Viera, Fla., in October 2007.

"We want to be involved in helping identify and help train quality candidates that will help us specifically, and Major League Baseball as a whole, diversify," Kasten said.

The announcement came on the same day the Nationals played in the uniforms of the Homestead Grays, honoring the Negro leagues. Kasten said the search for candidates will take a year. In Atlanta, Kasten said the program helped develop scouts and other candidates for front office positions.

"It's an important goal for us, and it's important for baseball," he said.

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