Heading north--some more than others

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The Nationals fell 6-2 this afternoon to the Orioles in Norfolk, Va., site of the Orioles’ Class AAA affiliate.The two teams will do it again on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

This one basically boiled down to Japanese right-hander Koji Uehara controlling the Nats for six innings, during which he needed just 72 pitches and threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of the 20 batters he faced.

Pretty safe to say we won’t see those kinds of numbers from Daniel Cabrera too often. In five innings (and 88 pitches) the right-hander gave up five runs on four hits against his former team, also walking four, throwing a wild pitch and hitting a batter. His control had been better throughout the spring (only three walks in 7 2/3 innings before today), but as Orioles fans know, Cabrera, even at his best, is never too far from a rough outing.

The biggest news out of here today was the Nats’ three roster moves — outrighting Kory Casto and Mike O’Connor and putting Terrell Young on the DL. Casto, in particular, took the news hard; he’s been trying to resuscitate his career after breaking the hamate bone in his right wrist last spring. The 2004 and 2005 organizational player of the year, Casto was now reduced to hoping another team picked him up off waivers and put him on their major-league roster.

But it didn’t happen, so Casto will head to the District, pick up his car, and drive to Syracuse. The only silver lining is that the trip to the Nationals’ new Class AAA affiliate is two hours shorter than the one he made so many times to Columbus.

“I know that I’m a better player than this,” Casto said. “I’ve had good springs and I’ve gotten sent down, and I’ve had a bad spring and I’m getting sent down. I don’t know what to say. I guess it really doesn’t matter what you do in the spring. I mean, it does matter, but there are times when I’ve hit over .300 in spring training and gotten sent down. This year, I didn’t do too well, and same thing.”

Casto’s hit just .149 this spring, and was a long shot to make the team because of infielders like Ronnie Belliard, Alberto Gonzalez, Willie Harris and Anderson Hernandez. He doesn’t have any more options, which means he’s done playing a game that’s sometimes worked against him in the past. But now, he’s stuck behind players that have options the Nationals don’t want to use yet.

“It works both ways. Years I’ve done well, it’s been that guys are out of options, so I’m the one going down. Then I get to that point, and it works the other way. Call it a tough break, but it is what it is,” Casto said.

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