- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2008

How freakish has the Washington Nationals’ injury plague become? Consider the latest calamity — Aaron Boone hurting himself trotting from the dugout to first base for a pinch-running appearance.

The Nationals placed Boone on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a strained left calf four days after the veteran infielder felt something cramp in his leg while taking the field in Cincinnati.

“It’s a little embarrassing,” he said. “But what are you going to do?”

Boone was summoned from the bench in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Reds to pinch-run for Dmitri Young, who experienced back tightness. Boone participated in one play, running from first to second base while being thrown out, but he hadn’t played since.

In a way, he might have been fortunate the inning wasn’t prolonged and he was forced to remain on the bases.

“It would have just added to the embarrassment,” he said. “I would have needed a pinch runner for the pinch runner.”

Boone becomes the 17th Washington player to land on the DL this season. His move was retroactive to July 7, so he’ll be eligible to return July 22.

The Nationals recalled infielder Pete Orr from Class AAA Columbus to take Boone’s roster spot. Orr went 2-for-11 during a brief stint with Washington last month.

Casto gets his shot

Kory Casto was in the Nationals’ lineup Thursday for the second straight game, at his second different position. After he played left field Wednesday, he moved to third base for the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Casto, who was recalled from Columbus after outfielder Elijah Dukes injured his right knee over the weekend, has taken advantage of his latest big league opportunity. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI in his first two games, a nice improvement from his .180 average during an earlier stint in Washington this season.

“He has looked more confident the second time around up here,” manager Manny Acta said. “I think he’s starting to realize that if he does the right things and relaxes, he can be valuable up here.”

That said, Acta doesn’t plan for now to use Casto as an everyday player, instead picking and choosing his spots.

Extra bases

Ryan Zimmerman enjoyed another strong round of batting practice Thursday and is ready to take the next step. The injured third baseman, trying to avoid surgery for a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder, will start hitting breaking balls this weekend. …

If Cristian Guzman continues to lead the National League in hits at the end of the week, he’ll become the first Washington player to lead his league in that category at the All-Star break since the Senators’ Heinie Manush in 1934.

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