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Call-Ups Find Clubhouse Has a Quite Familiar Feel

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Five September call-ups, promoted en masse from Class AAA Syracuse at the end of the minor league season, arrived on Tuesday at Nationals Park. Each unpacked his belongings, looked around. None saw the same thing. Each, indeed, will encounter a distinctly different opportunity.

The group of call-ups included four pitchers and one position player, four with major league experience and one making his debut.

Ross Detwiler is a 23-year-old former No. 1 draft pick who's already spent two months with the Nationals this year, and will now pitch out of the bullpen. Marco Estrada is a 26-year-old who spent September 2008 as a Washington reliever, and will now start. Zack Segovia is a 26-year-old reliever who washed out of the Philadelphia organization and is now getting his first shot with the Nationals. Logan Kensing is a 27-year-old reliever, hard hit in two prior stints with the Nationals, who's back for a third and perhaps final chance. Ian Desmond is a 23-year-old, a third-round pick in 2004, whose playing time this month will largely depend on the health of starter Cristian Guzmán.

If nothing else, the group shared a sense of familiarity. With their arrival, Washington's active roster swelled to 31. Twenty of those players, not counting those on rehab assignments, spent time this year with Class AAA Syracuse.

"I know absolutely everybody. There's maybe two guys I've never seen before," Estrada said. "That makes it a little easier. You feel more at home, I guess."

Among the call-ups, Estrada inherits the greatest opportunity. Because of Craig Stammen's elbow surgery, Washington needs a starter. The Nationals chose Estrada not just because of his performance with the Chiefs (9-5, 3.63 ERA), but also because Detwiler is nearing his season limit for innings pitched.

Desmond is the lone position player promoted from a minor league system notably thin on them. Promoted to Syracuse from Class AA Harrisburg in mid-July, Desmond hit .354 (63-for-178) in 55 games.

"I love to see young players play," Riggleman said, "but I don't ever want to take away the opportunity from the veterans who have been here all year and disregard their efforts all year by planting them on the bench. Like I said, the at-bats might be inconsistent."

Top Minor Leaguers Named

Washington on Tuesday named catcher Derek Norris as its minor league player of the year and pitcher Brad Meyers as its minor league pitcher of the year. Norris, 20, a 2007 fourth-round pick, hit .286 with 23 homers and 84 RBI in a full season with Class A Hagerstown. Meyers, 24, went a combined 11-3 (1.72 ERA) with Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg.

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