The Washington Nationals' revolving door of center fielders again has stopped on Nook Logan, though it may crank up again within the week.
Logan, who had been starting only against left-handed pitchers as part of a platoon with Ryan Langerhans, was in the lineup for the third straight game last night even though right-hander Chris Sampson was on the mound for the Houston Astros.
The reason? Logan has shown a glimmer of hope in the last two weeks, going 5-for-15 with four walks, six runs and two stolen bases over his last six games before last night.
"I kind of like what he's been doing lately for us at the plate, getting on base and taking some pitches and stuff," manager Manny Acta said. "We're going to give him a [chance] to go out there."
Logan, who gave up switch hitting last month and now is batting exclusively from the right side of the plate, has adjusted to the difference. He no longer fears head-to-head confrontations with right-handed pitchers like he did when he first made the switch, and the results seem to confirm that (though he did strike out in his first two at-bats last night and finished 0-for-4).
"I'm feeling confident and more and more comfortable," Logan said. "I've been taking a lot of pitches and try to see release points and pick up spin on the ball and haven't been doing a lot of swinging and missing. So I guess it's working out."
Acta was careful not to declare Logan his everyday center fielder. Langerhans will start today because he has had success against Astros right-hander Jason Jennings. And ultimately, the Nationals still plan to play Alex Escobar daily in left field (with Ryan Church moving to center) once he comes off the disabled list.
That move likely will happen in time for next week's road trip to Philadelphia and New York, once Escobar has had a chance to get his timing down on his rehab assignment with Class AAA Columbus. (He's currently 2-for-19 in five games).
"He's making progress," general manager Jim Bowden said. "He's not quite ready yet. ... We think he's healthy enough to play, but we want him to come up here and have a chance to succeed. Let him get the 0-for-16 out of the way."
Reliever Jesus Colome was back in the Nationals' clubhouse yesterday, about three weeks removed from surgery to repair an infection on his right buttock.
Colome, who was one of the stalwarts of Washington's bullpen with a 4-0 record and 2.76 ERA in 40 appearances, said he was surprised by how serious his ailment was. Doctors found an extensive amount of bacteria in a wound that had grown to the size of a small pancake, all of which had to be removed.
"I could play with that," he said. "But the doctor said maybe I could be in trouble later."
Yesterday, the wound was closed up completely for the first time, and after a successful visit to the doctor today Colome expects to be told he can resume throwing Monday. There's no timetable for his return, but the right-hander doesn't think it will be a drawn-out process.
"The good thing for me is my arm is good," he said. "Maybe it won't take too long."
Shawn Hill threw 40 fastballs and change-ups off a mound yesterday and pronounced his injured right elbow and left shoulder healthy. Hill, on the DL since May 12, is scheduled to throw all his pitches during another bullpen session Friday, after which he could be ready for a simulated game against live hitters. ...
Catcher Brian Schneider had to leave last night's game in the ninth inning after getting hit by a pitch just above his right elbow. The injury was described as nothing more than a bruise, but Schneider won't play today. He said he hopes to be back in the lineup tomorrow.