Dukes, Kearns still out

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The Nats’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Pirates has already been posted, and it’s notable once again for two guys who aren’t in it…

SS Cristian Guzman

1B Nick Johnson

3B Ryan Zimmerman

RF Adam Dunn

LF Josh Willingham

CF Willie Harris

2B Anderson Hernandez

C Wil Nieves

P Shairon Martis

So where are Elijah Dukes and/or Austin Kearns? Well, both are still battling nagging injuries. Dukes has a strained left hamstring, Kearns has a bruised left hand. Each has received only one at-bat over the last four games — Dukes re-tweaked his hamstring running out a double on Sunday, Kearns pinch-hit late in last night’s game.

Why hasn’t either been placed on the DL? Well, the belief is that neither injury is serious enough to do that, even though it leaves the Nats with only three healthy outfielders (and forces Harris to play center field).

As I type this, though, Dukes is working out in right field with strength and conditioning coach John Philbin. Head trainer Lee Kuntz, manager Manny Acta and acting GM Mike Rizzo are all out there watching closely. Perhaps it’s now decision day on Dukes. Either he’s good to go, or he’s DL-bound.

No roster moves to speak of yet today, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some at some point. After last night’s debacle, Acta spoke of pending “changes” when it comes to the Nats bullpen.

The club also needs to make a decision about Ross Detwiler. Does he stay up here and start Saturday night against the Orioles, or does he now go down to Class AAA Syracuse to resume his regularly paced progression through the farm system? Though Detwiler clearly pitched well enough last night to earn another shot, there could be one good reason to send him down now.

The Nats need bullpen help, immediately. If Detwiler stays, he wastes a roster spot for the next four games. If he were sent down today, the club could add an extra reliever for the next four days, then make another move before Saturday’s game, calling up Craig Stammen from Syracuse to make the start.

Not saying that’s what will happen, just saying it’s a possibility. I’ll let you know if and when any officialy moves are made.

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Mark Zuckerman

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