Acta Is Going To Face a High Pitcher Count

By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 30, 2007

NEW YORK, July 29 -- For all the problems Manager Manny Acta has faced this season, he finally has found a good one to confront. Although a rash of injuries has depleted his starting pitching rotation, it also uncovered several capable, young hurlers.

Acta's challenge will be choosing whom to throw while managing the development of young starters. Two, Joel Hanrahan and John Lannan, made their big league debuts this past week. The Nationals want to see them continue to pitch in the majors, but with Shawn Hill and others preparing to return, Acta will face difficult decisions.

"It's exciting to see the young guys, obviously, go out there and throw the ball well," Acta said. "We knew that eventually we were going to get to see these guys pitch this year. I guess we're going to have to see about the next outing."

Some of the starters are closer to returning than others. Hill will make his first rehab start Monday at Class A Potomac. Micah Bowie threw a simulated game Friday and experienced soreness afterward. Jason Simontacchi remains behind both, having not even played catch because of right elbow tendinitis.

Bowie will likely rejoin the bullpen when he returns, Acta said. He'll still have more starting pitchers than spots in the rotation, though.

"That's what Sept. 1 is for," Acta said, referring to the date when rosters expand to 40 men. "It'll be more than welcome. Be able to expand it, and keep these guys a chance to keep starting and give us a chance to see them."

Playing in the Rain

Though rain fell from the first pitch Sunday, worsening as the afternoon wore on, umpires waited to make sure the game became official before stopping play at 2:41 p.m. "It's not a good scenario out there," Acta said. "They did a good job. That's pretty standard nowadays. It wasn't like it was an unplayable type of rain. They did a good job handling the situation."

Nationals players praised the Mets' ground crew for keeping the field playable. Ryan Church said the batter's box was affected, but not enough to influence play. Reliever Chris Schroder slipped on the mound when he threw his final pitch.

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