Nationals Notebook

Lastings Milledge Out 6 to 8 Weeks After Surgery on Broken Finger

By Steve Fainaru
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, May 12 -- A Baltimore hand specialist inserted a screw into outfielder Lastings Milledge's broken right ring finger Tuesday. The surgery is the latest setback for the Nationals prospect, who will miss six to eight weeks, according to Manager Manny Acta.

Milledge, the Nationals' leadoff hitter and starting center fielder on Opening Day, had been demoted to Class AAA Syracuse and was struggling there when he turned to bunt in a Monday morning game and took a pitch off his hand.

The decision to have Milledge undergo surgery significantly lessens his hopes of getting back to the majors this season. Milledge, 24, acquired in the 2007 deal that sent Ryan Church and Brian Schneider to the Mets, made it onto the cover of the media guide this year. He had just four hits and struck out 10 times before the Nationals sent him down, then batted .253 in 22 games at Syracuse.

Acta said the Nationals were "still very high on the guy. We think he's going to be a really good player up here; he's going to be a big part of this franchise. . . . There's still five months to go. Our plan was not to just send him down there and forget about him."

Adjustments for Cabrera

Acta held a meeting with right-hander Daniel Cabrera to discuss the pitcher's total meltdown during Monday night's loss to the Giants. But he said that Cabrera (0-4) will take his next turn in the rotation, over the weekend against Philadelphia.

The Nationals are 0-7 when Cabrera starts this year. Acta said the Nationals will now focus on tinkering with the 6-foot-9 inch Cabrera's delivery along with the development of his head.

Acta laughed off the notion of sending Cabrera to a sports psychologist, saying that only "a minor adjustment" was needed. That adjustment, he said, meant maintaining his composure even when the Nationals' defense falters behind him, as it did Monday. Cabrera walked four straight batters after left fielder Josh Willingham overran a two-out fly ball.

Cabrera has allowed 32 runs in 34 1/3 innings this year, but only 19 of those runs were earned. He has walked 28 batters.

"To me, it's about self-control," Acta said. "I feel it's like the Bible says: 'The way fools deal with conflict is by getting angry.' That's contrary to the way I live, and the way I am."

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