After Record, Bacsik Returns To the Bullpen

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 13, 2007

PHOENIX, Aug. 12 -- From the day he arrived to the hoopla that surrounded his surrendering of Barry Bonds's 756th home run to what could have been his last moments as a starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals, Mike Bacsik talked bad about only one person: Mike Bacsik.

"Today, it's about a whole bunch of other people and not about me," he said after the Nationals' 7-6 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. "Because today, I was the negative and 24 other guys were the positive."

Bacsik's four-inning, five-run outing against Arizona -- the worst of his 16 starts -- was further fodder for a move the Nationals had essentially decided before Sunday's game. With right-hander Shawn Hill returning from the disabled list to start Tuesday against Philadelphia, Bacsik (5-6, 4.76 ERA) was put in the bullpen, and left-hander Billy Traber was optioned to Class AAA Columbus.

"It's not a big adjustment for me," Bacsik said. "I've done it before. It'll be a new challenge. I'm excited to join those guys. Everybody down there is throwing the ball great, and hopefully it will rub off on me."

Traber was 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 28 appearances, including two starts, but he had been used almost exclusively in mop-up situations. Thirteen of his last 14 appearances came in losses.

"The main thing is just to stay healthy and be able to be versatile," he said. "That's probably the only thing I've got going for me, the versatility."

A Virginia Reunion at the Hot Corner

When Ryan Zimmerman arrived at the University of Virginia as a shortstop in fall 2002, the Cavaliers already had a shortstop, Mark Reynolds. The pair had played together on a fall travel team back in high school, growing up in Virginia Beach.

"They asked me if I'd play third," Zimmerman said. "I said, 'I've never tried it before, but sure.' And I've been there ever since."

Zimmerman's counterpart for the Diamondbacks this weekend was none other than Reynolds. The 24-year-old is in the big leagues for the first time this year and played all three games against Washington, subbing for regular third baseman Chad Tracy, who is dealing with a balky right knee.

"I guess if you want to make the big leagues and you're from Virginia Beach," Reynolds said, "you play third base."

Throw in David Wright of the New York Mets, who grew up in nearby Chesapeake, and that might not be too far from the truth. Reynolds, though, watched Zimmerman transform from their high school days.

"I remember in high school, he was 6-foot, 120 pounds soaking wet," Reynolds said. "He got to U-Va., and it seemed like he grew a foot and put on 100 pounds. He changed. And he's just an unbelievable talent."

Reynolds homered Sunday, while Zimmerman went 1 for 5 with a triple in the Nationals' comeback and started the ninth inning with a beautiful diving stop that took a hit away from Chris Young.

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