- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

ATLANTA — Washington Nationals third baseman Vinny Castilla was out of the lineup last night and will miss today’s final game of the Atlanta Braves series with soreness in his right shoulder. However, he expects to be healthy for tomorrow night’s home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks at RFK Stadium.

Castilla, 37, said he injured himself during batting practice before Monday’s 11-2 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. Castilla said he feels a pinching sensation in his shoulder muscle when he tries to throw overhand but said it doesn’t affect his swing.

?I feel a little tight, a little sore in my shoulder,? Castilla said yesterday. ?I feel like I pulled something and I tried to play through it and I did, but [Nationals manager Frank Robinson] wants me to rest it today and tomorrow and get better for Opening Day in Washington. It doesn’t hurt when I swing; it’s just my throwing. There is nothing wrong with my swing; it’s just when I throw over the top.?

Castilla is listed as day-to-day and will be re-evaluated today. Meanwhile, Nationals utility infielder Jamey Carroll made his first start of the season last night at third base. Robinson inserted Carroll into the second slot in the batting order. Carroll prepares daily to play any of three positions.

?I don’t know where it’s going to be — second, short, or third — so I go out every day in [batting practice] and make sure I get ground balls and get work in at each position and make sure I throw from the spots,? he said. ?Whether it’s [any] of the positions, I feel like I’m mentally prepared to play the game.?

After spring training, Robinson was looking for a way to get Carroll a start early this season to keep him fine-tuned. Carroll, who was Robinson’s top bench player last season in Montreal, is a natural second baseman and says that’s where he feels most comfortable.

?But it doesn’t matter as long as I’m in there doing something,? said Carroll, who has two hits in three pinch-hit appearances.

Robinson said sitting Castilla is a preventative measure. Castilla is 8-for-24 (.333) with two doubles, one home run and three RBI.

?I figured I would give him a day or two off and try to get him straightened out,? Robinson said. ?We have to look at the long-range thing and the big picture. I’m a believer if you take care of these little things now, they don’t develop into something serious.?

Where are the starters?

Before last night, the Nationals’ bullpen was 3-0 while none of the starters had picked up a win. Closer Chad Cordero (2-0) was tied for the major league lead in wins.

Robinson would rather see his starters winning games and Cordero saving them.

?A win is a win, but when you have your starters go out there and not getting a win and the relief pitchers are saving the ballgame for them [by getting wins], it’s not good,? Robinson said. ?Even though you get the win, it’s a good feeling, but you still don’t feel good about it. And from your own mental state, the psyche of the starters, they are the ones that are supposed to get the wins, not the bullpen.?

In the National’ three wins, the bullpen has posted a 0.93 ERA in 92/3 innings. In the club’s four losses, the bullpen ERA is 15.30 in 10 innings.

Sponsorship lined up

PNC Financial Services Corp., which recently acquired Riggs National Corp., today will announce a sponsorship deal with the Washington Nationals.

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