Columbus To Supply A Starter

By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Washington Nationals' temporary replacement for injured starting pitcher Odalis Pérez will come from Class AAA Columbus, Manager Manny Acta said yesterday. Pérez, the Opening Day starter, left Tuesday's game with tendinitis in his left shoulder and will not make his scheduled start Sunday.

Acta will decide on Sunday's starter "in a day or so," he said. "We're just looking at some of the possibilities."

Acta limited those possibilities to the staff at Columbus. "That narrows it to what, like 11 guys?" he said. But, really, it means the Nationals will likely choose from a pool of four: Tyler Clippard, Mike O'Connor, Garrett Mock and Collin Balester.

The Nationals may have showed their hand last night. Clippard pitched only two innings in his start at Syracuse, allowing no runs and no hits with a walk and two strikeouts, possibly resting for a start Sunday.

When asked if anything could be read into the condensed outing, Acta shrugged. "I'm not up to speed why," he said. "It's a good guess, though."

"Whoever comes out of here is only going to be here for one or two starts," Acta said.

It will not be Matt Chico, who underwent an MRI exam for tightness on his left forearm yesterday.

Changing the Battery

Acta separated catcher Wil Nieves from starter John Lannan for the first time since April 17, putting Jesús Flores behind the plate instead. Nieves had forged a fruitful battery with Lannan, catching him for Lannan's previous nine starts. Lannan went 4-3 with a 2.87 ERA during the span.

With the Nationals' offense having scored one run in the previous 27 innings, Acta believed the lineup could not be without the bat of Flores, whose .333 batting average is the highest of any regular. . . .

Closer Jon Rauch had retired 18 consecutive batters entering last night, the longest current streak in the majors -- and one he viewed with ambivalence. "That's a stat," he said. "That's it."

Rauch offered little else in the way of self-analysis. "I'm not a me-me-me guy," he said. So his manager spoke for him.

"His confidence over the last two years, it's been unbelievable," Acta said. "He knows he can get anybody out."

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