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Chico moves up; Speigner still in limbo

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Levale Speigner won't make his regularly scheduled start Friday night for the Washington Nationals. Whether the rookie right-hander remains in the rotation or is sent back to the bullpen is up to the team.

Speigner, the lone member of Washington's makeshift rotation who has struggled since taking over, will be replaced Friday by Matt Chico, who will be bumped up a day to face the San Diego Padres.

The Nationals originally had planned to give Chico an extra day of rest after the team had Monday off, but the rookie left-hander now will come back on regular rest to start.

The team still has to name a starter for Saturday's game, and manager Manny Acta said Speigner remains in the running. Another possibility, though, is right-hander Joel Hanrahan, who has a 1.48 ERA at Class AAA Columbus and returned from the disabled list to pitch three innings Monday. His next turn happens to fall on Saturday.

Asked whether he knew who would start, Acta said, "Not yet. We're still waiting our options and working on it."

Speigner, who has allowed 17 runs in three abbreviated starts, said he's fine with the demotion and understands why it's happening.

"They told me Chico was going to start," he said. "I mean, you know, whatever. I'm not going to let that affect me. I still have to come to work every day and get my work in and do what's best for this team to win. That's the most frustrating thing for me: When I've started, I haven't given our team a chance to win."

Under normal circumstances, Speigner (whose overall ERA is 8.39) would be a logical candidate to be sent down to the minors. But because he was selected by the Nationals in the Rule 5 draft, the 26-year-old can't be sent down without first being offered back to his old team (the Minnesota Twins) and exposed to waivers.

Patterson throws

Injured right-hander John Patterson threw off a mound yesterday for the first time since going on the disabled list with an irritated nerve in his throwing arm and pronounced himself in good health.

"It felt good to be back up on the mound," said Patterson, who threw 25 fastballs in the bullpen. "I was happy with the way it went. My arm's not hurting at all, which is good. We're making a lot of progress towards getting some velocity and my delivery where it needs to be."

Out since May 6, Patterson likely will throw in the bullpen one more time later this week before advancing to a simulated game, after which he can go on a minor league rehab assignment.

"There's still a little ways to go," he said, pointing out he still hasn't thrown any breaking balls.

Patterson is a few days behind fellow right-hander Shawn Hill, who will make his second bullpen throwing session this week.

Young sits

Dmitri Young was out of the lineup last night, still feeling the effects of his collision at first base with St. Louis Cardinals' third baseman Scott Rolen on Sunday.

Young, who originally complained of a sore lower back, was more concerned yesterday with his hip.

"The back's fine. It's just the hip," he said. "I can go play tomorrow."

Young was available to pinch-hit last night and should be in the lineup tonight. Ronnie Belliard replaced him at first base against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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