Olsen Placed on DL; Nationals Lose Pair to Phillies

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 17, 2009

Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera, two Washington Nationals starting pitchers whose seasons have been marked by premature exits, entered yesterday's day-night doubleheader with the charge to pitch deep into their starts. After Manager Manny Acta used his entire bullpen during Friday's 12-inning loss, the Nationals needed quality outings to survive two games.

Neither Olsen nor Cabrera pitched with discernable quality yesterday at Nationals Park, although both lasted longer than they would in a typical situation. Acta stuck with his starters through five hard-to-watch innings in both games -- an 8-5 loss in the afternoon followed by a 7-5 rain-shortened nightcap. The second game was called during the sixth inning after a 90-minute delay.

Adding to the carnage, the Nationals will lose Olsen for at least two weeks. Olsen's left shoulder bothered him during the start, and an MRI exam later revealed tendinitis. He received a shot and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday, retroactive to yesterday. Ross Detwiler, Washington's 2007 first-round pick, will be promoted from Class AA Harrisburg to start tomorrow's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Olsen will not throw for five days before testing his shoulder again.

Josh Bard caught Olsen's pitches and could tell almost immediately that Olsen was not himself. Josh Willingham, who has long known Olsen from their days in the Florida Marlins' organization, occasionally glanced toward the scoreboard from his spot in left field for further explanation.

The line score on the giant video board displayed the details of the loss, but the small number displaying pitch velocity explained the result.

The first two of three home runs Olsen allowed came on 85-mph fastballs. The third came on an 88-mph fastball. Normally, Olsen's fastball is in the high 80s. He was consistently stuck in the mid-80s yesterday.

"I went out there to check if he was okay, because his velocity wasn't where we wanted it to be," said Manager Manny Acta, who visited the pitcher's mound in the second inning. "He told me he was okay."

Despite what Olsen said, the results, the radar gun -- and later the MRI exam -- proved otherwise.

"Actually, he wasn't okay," Acta said. "But he did gain a lot of respect from me. His shoulder was a little tight, and he kind of did something that probably wouldn't help him, but he was thinking about his teammates. He wanted to go out there and give us as many innings as he could."

Acta said Olsen kept his shoulder pain a secret during the game because he wanted to help the bullpen. Olsen allowed nine hits, six runs (five earned) and struck out three in five innings.

Despite his shoulder problems, he finished with better statistics than Cabrera. The struggling right-handed pitcher was again beset by walks. He allowed seven earned runs, one of which came on a bases-loaded walk. His four walks marked his sixth consecutive start with at least four walks.

Acta was actually encouraged by Cabrera's first four innings before a problematic four-run fifth inning. Cabrera's problems often came when he pitched out of the stretch with runners on base.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company