O'Connor Gets the Start Over Traber

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 6, 2006

This much we know: Left-hander Mike O'Connor was recalled from Class AAA New Orleans yesterday by the Washington Nationals, and he will start today's homestand-ending game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

That's the simple part of the equation. But for lefty Billy Traber -- who is being skipped so O'Connor can start -- the news is a bit more complex. Head athletic trainer Tim Abraham said Traber has an inflamed bursa in his left shoulder, and both he and pitching coach Randy St. Claire said it didn't make sense to bring Traber back on three days' rest. (His last start was Saturday.) Asked if Traber could have pitched had he had his normal rest, Abraham said, "Absolutely."

Traber wouldn't acknowledge any health problems.

"I'm fine," he said. Asked if he could pitch if the team wanted him to, he said: "It doesn't matter. I'm not going to."

Traber, who has been healthy throughout this season after overcoming reconstructive elbow surgery in late 2003, said he planned on pitching at some point over the final four weeks.

St. Claire said no decision on who fills the spot in the rotation over the remainder of the season will be determined until the spot comes up again, Monday in Arizona.

O'Connor, meantime, originally was sent down on July 30 -- but he later told the team he had an elbow problem, and though the club originally said he would be placed on the major league disabled list, he never was. He threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings in a rehabilitation appearance for New Orleans on Saturday.

Waiting on Black

Sean Black, a right-hander from New Jersey whom the Nationals took in the second round of the June draft, didn't enroll in classes yesterday at Seton Hall, meaning there still might be a chance Washington could sign him. Black is the only one of the Nationals' first eight draft choices not to sign, and should he enroll at Seton Hall -- where he has a scholarship -- the club would lose his rights. General Manager Jim Bowden would not comment on the negotiations, and Black did not return messages left on his cellphone.

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