The Washington Times - May 26, 2009, 10:59PM

The Nationals gave Daniel Cabrera two months, eight starts and one relief appearance to try to turn himself around. In the end, the club decided it couldn’t afford to wait any longer.

Cabrera was designated for assignment following tonight’s loss to the New York Mets, a move that forces the Nationals to eat the remainder of the right-hander’s $2.6 million contract but one acting general manager Mike Rizzo said had to be made.

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“You have to put the best 25 players on the roster to give you a chance to win,” Rizzo said. “I look beyond the contract and to the execution and the performance of the player. It wasn’t up to par, and I was tired watching it.”

Cabrera, who was signed in December by former GM Jim Bowden to be Washington’s No. 3 starter, wound up going 0-5 with a 5.85 ERA in nine appearances. His team was winless in all eight of his starts, so manager Manny Acta demoted the 27-year-old to the bullpen one week ago.

That move didn’t solve the problem. Cabrera made his one and only relief appearance Monday night and issued three walks in only two-thirds of an inning.

The Nationals now have 10 days to either trade Cabrera or pass him through waivers. If he goes unclaimed, he can either report to Class AAA Syracuse or become a free agent. He said tonight he wasn’t sure yet what path he will take, but he did say he “understands the situation.”

Asked why he thought things didn’t work out this season, Cabrera replied: “I think that’s why you see 50,000 people out there. Because this game, you never know what’s going to happen. One day you can be the best, one day you can be the worst. When I came here, I had a good feeling. But nothing was going my way.”

The Nationals will fill Cabrera’s roster spot with catcher Luke Montz, who will be called up from Class AA Harrisburg for probably only one day to serve as a backup catcher. Veteran Josh Bard left the club tonight to be with his wife, who is about to give birth.

Jesus Flores will likely come off the DL on Friday, so Montz’s tenure should be brief.