- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | With their bullpen still desperate for proven arms, the Washington Nationals dealt for right-hander Logan Kensing, acquiring the 26-year-old reliever from the Florida Marlins for right-hander Kyle Gunderson, their 48th-round pick in 2007.

Kensing had been designated for assignment last week after giving up six runs in 3 1/3 innings in a pair of Marlins losses. He has struggled as much as most of the Nationals’ relievers this season but had a 4.23 ERA in 48 appearances for Florida last season.

“We like him. He’s a guy who has a pretty good arm,” Acta said. “We’ve seen him for a couple years in our division, and we’re trying to stack up with some power arms and do whatever we can to get this bullpen going.”

Kensing, who found out about the trade at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, caught a flight to Philadelphia from Miami on Wednesday morning and arrived in the visitors clubhouse in time for Wednesday’s game against the Phillies. Acta said Kensing won’t have a specific role to start out in the bullpen.

“We’re going to try to get a feel for him first, get him in the middle of the games and see what he can do,” Acta said.

And Kensing wasn’t expecting one. Mostly, he was excited to have another shot in the major leagues.

“It’s always good to still have a job,” he said. “Things didn’t happen the way I wanted to really in Florida, but they gave me another chance to be over here. It’s a real good lineup to pitch for.”

He had a front-row seat to watch the Nationals’ bullpen blow three ninth-inning leads against the Marlins earlier this month but didn’t think the meltdown was unique to one club.

“I think it happens to most bullpens,” he said. “You have your ups and your downs. You have to fight through it and stay consistent.”

To make room for Kensing, the Nationals optioned Jason Bergmann back to Class AAA Syracuse, where he had come from just 10 days before when Washington sent three relievers to the minors after the blown leads against the Marlins.

Bergmann had been called up when Saul Rivera was optioned to the minors, but Rivera beat him out for a spot this time. Neither pitcher had distinguished himself in the last 10 days, but Acta said Rivera’s track record “has to count for something.

“We’re anticipating that Saul was having a rough time and that we can get him back on track,” Acta said. “Despite giving up a home run on a pitch way up in the zone [Tuesday] night, we felt he was throwing the ball good.”

Guzman back

The Nationals activated shortstop Cristian Guzman from the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, bringing their leadoff hitter back from a strained left hamstring that had kept him out the last two weeks. Guzman hit .515 in seven games before the injury, but Acta said the defensive stability he brings to the lineup is just as important.

Alberto Gonzalez, who was optioned to Syracuse, had made six errors in Guzman’s absence. While Guzman will never be mistaken for Omar Vizquel, he’s solid enough defensively to give Acta some relief.

“He’s been a bright spot for us the last three years,” Acta said. “He was swinging the bat well before he got hurt. It will be nice to have some stability on the field.”

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