Fick's Mother Succumbs to Lung Cancer

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Washington Nationals utility man Robert Fick joked with teammates and talked about his recent hot hitting yesterday afternoon before batting practice. He was in a giddy mood, but he knew the news could come at any time.

During batting practice, Fick got word that his mother, Gloria, had died after a long battle with lung cancer. He quickly packed and headed to her home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He will be placed on the bereavement list today -- which means he must miss three days, with a maximum of seven days -- and outfielder Brandon Watson will be called up from Class AAA Columbus.

"We told him to take as much time as possible," General Manager Jim Bowden said. "Family comes first."

Fick spoke extensively about his mother's situation in an interview Monday. "I cry every day," he said, adding that the clubhouse was something of a sanctuary.

Watson, who had an International League-record 43-game hitting streak snapped Monday, will replace the platoon of Ryan Langerhans and Nook Logan in center for the time being.

"We're going to take a look at him," Manager Manny Acta said. "We already gave the platoon we have here a chance, and we've seen the numbers that are there, so we're going to give a chance to Watty."

Watson was the Nationals' Opening Day center fielder in 2006 but was demoted after nine games, in which he hit .179. He was picked up off waivers by Cincinnati, signed by the Detroit Tigers as a minor league free agent, released in April and claimed by the Nationals.

Bergmann Close to Return

Right-hander Jason Bergmann, on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow, will throw his second rehabilitation start tonight for Columbus, and if there are no complications, he will be activated to pitch next Tuesday in Atlanta. Bergmann was 1-3 with a 2.76 ERA when he went on the disabled list May 18.

Bowden said reliever Luis Ayala will be activated Friday. Ayala, coming off reconstructive elbow surgery, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2005.

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