The slew of injuries suffered by the Washington Nationals' pitching staff will affect the arrival of infield prospect Ryan Zimmerman, General Manager Jim Bowden said yesterday.

"Absolutely," Bowden said. "If we didn't have the injuries, he'd probably be here today. But you got to be Tom Brady at the line of scrimmage and be able to adjust."

How the Nationals will adjust after injuries to starters Tony Armas Jr. and Ryan Drese is a "day-by-day" matter, Bowden said. Drese was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 19. Team orthopedist Wiemi Douoguih said yesterday that an MRI exam revealed a small tear of Drese's labrum. Drese, Douoguih said, won't throw for five days, but the club hopes he will be back pitching in 10 to 15 days.

Armas came out of Tuesday's 6-2 loss to Cincinnati after three innings with shoulder soreness. An MRI revealed no apparent tear of his labrum, Douoguih said. He received an injection in his shoulder, and won't throw for two to three days, and doctors don't know whether he'll be able to make his next start.

That, in turn, is hindering Bowden's ability to call up Zimmerman, the team's top draft pick who is playing at Class AA Harrisburg. Left-hander John Halama is the most likely candidate to start Saturday. But Manager Frank Robinson said he may use Halama in relief before then, so Bowden might make moves over the weekend in order to have starters for Saturday and Sunday.

Reliever Luis Ayala has tendinitis in his right elbow, and an MRI confirmed that there was no further damage. He is listed as day-to-day.

Bowden said 28-year-old lefty Matt White is the most likely candidate to be called up if the team needs an emergency starter. White is 8-5 with a 3.23 ERA in 34 appearances for AAA New Orleans.

Church Hurt

Outfielder Ryan Church may have suffered a broken toe when he was hit by a pitch in the second inning of last night's 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Church remained in the game, but was limping badly. He had the toe drained, but said doctors told them the amount of blood that came out likely indicated a break. He is scheduled to have X-rays today.

"It feels terrible," Church said. . . .

Robinson reiterated yesterday that he feels any player caught using steroids should have his records removed from baseball's history, including Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, who was suspended last month.

"He was found to be using steroids," Robinson said. "He served a 10-day suspension, so he must be guilty. Wipe out the records." . . .

Outfielder Brad Wilkerson was back at the ballpark yesterday, still feeling the effects of sinusitis, but generally better. He was available off the bench last night.