- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2005

DENVER — When Colorado Rockies pitcher Jose Acevedo surrendered back-to-back home runs to the Washington Nationals yesterday, then drilled the next batter, Preston Wilson, with an up-and-in fastball, he immediately received a warning from plate umpire Jerry Layne.

Nationals manager Frank Robinson, though, wanted Layne to dish out a more severe punishment.

“The rules say if the umpire feels like it was intentional, he doesn’t have to give out a warning. Just throw the guy out,” Robinson said following his team’s 9-2 win at Coors Field. “I haven’t seen a much more obvious situation than that one today.”

It didn’t help matters when Layne issued a warning to the Nationals’ dugout at the same time, thus quashing any possibility of retaliation from Washington starter John Patterson.

Wilson, who was traded from the Rockies to the Nationals last month, played down the incident. He said he has known Acevedo for a while and had no reason to believe he was plunked on purpose.

“It didn’t hurt, so I don’t really care,” Wilson said. “If he meant to hit me on purpose, I think that’s kind of weak. But if he didn’t and it just got away, then things happen. I know him, so until I hear different, I’m going to say he was just trying to go in and missed it.”

Wilson did appear to retaliate by trying to steal second with his team ahead seven runs (usually a no-no in baseball circles). He was thrown out by Rockies catcher J.D. Closser and later said it was not a reaction to getting hit by the pitch.

“No, no. I want to start running a little bit, so I’ve got to get used to going,” he said. “It’s a 7-0 game, so it’s a good chance for me to get used to running again. When I was here, I didn’t really run that much. Now it’s something I need to put back into my game. … I’d rather take a chance there in a 7-0 game and start getting the confidence in running again.”

Without talking to Wilson, Robinson assumed he was stealing to retaliate. The manager also said if that was the case, he would have liked to see Wilson slide feet first and take out the Rockies’ infielder.

Interchangeable lefties

When the Nationals signed Mike Stanton during the All-Star break, Robinson planned to use the veteran reliever as his top left-handed setup man, ahead of Joey Eischen.

But while Stanton has posted a 1.35 ERA in 12 appearances, he has not proved that effective against lefties, who are hitting .313 (5-for-16) against him.

Eischen, too, has struggled against left-handers, giving up 13 hits in 41 at-bats (.317).

So Robinson has elected not to designate either man as his top choice for late-inning situations. Instead, he’s using the two based on a feel for that particular situation.

“When I saw Stanton [in the past], he was at the top of his game,” Robinson said. “With the Yankees when they were putting championship clubs together, he was outstanding against left-handers. Right now, he just doesn’t look head and shoulders above Eischen. So they’re kind of interchangeable.”

Extra bases

Brad Wilkerson returned to the Nationals’ lineup yesterday in left field, not his usual spot in center field. Preston Wilson started his third straight game in center, and there are indications the defensive alignment could remain that way. A source close to Wilson said he recently went to Robinson and said he feels more comfortable in center field than in the corner outfield positions. …

Sun-Woo Kim got a chance to stick it to the Nationals, at least as much as possible in a blowout loss. Kim, whom the Rockies claimed off waivers from Washington on Aug. 5, pitched a scoreless inning of relief yesterday. In three Colorado appearances, including one start, Kim has posted a 3.12 ERA.

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