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NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

Three Up, Three Down In the Lineup

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By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 22, 2008

When General Manager Jim Bowden spoke with Ryan Zimmerman before last night's game, he told the injured Washington Nationals third baseman how impressed he has been of late with the production of Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge and Jesús Flores.

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Then he mused about how the lineup would look if those three young batters had some protection from another trio -- Zimmerman, Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns, all on the disabled list.

Bowden told reporters there was a chance that Kearns, who was placed on the disabled list May 22 in anticipation of right elbow surgery, could begin a rehabilitation assignment on Thursday. Kearns was batting .187 with three home runs and 16 RBI before the injury. Bowden said it is possible that Kearns could return to the big league club for the series at Cincinnati that begins July 3 or, more likely, after the all-star break in mid-July.

Meantime, Zimmerman will not swing a bat for another week, according to Bowden. He has been on the disabled list since June 3 with a small labral tear in his left shoulder. Zimmerman was hitting .257 with eight home runs and 27 RBI.

Johnson will visit the Mayo Clinic tomorrow for a second opinion on the torn tendon sheath in his right wrist. He was batting .220 with five home runs and 20 RBI when he went on the DL on May 15.

"It's discouraging that it's not feeling better after all this time," Bowden said.

The trio of Dukes, Milledge and Flores went 8 for 17 in Friday night's 4-3, 14-inning win over the Rangers. They combined to contribute all four RBI, three runs, two walks and a home run.

Extra Bases

Bowden confirmed that outfielder Ryan Langerhans accepted his outright assignment and will report to Class AAA Columbus. . . . Right-hander Ryan Wagner, on the DL while recovering from shoulder surgery, revealed that a blister has formed on his right ring finger. He said he first noticed it after throwing his second simulated game in Washington about two weeks ago. Wagner said he has to cover the blister while he pitches so that he can throw his sinker, but he did not consider it a setback in his recovery.


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