- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NEW ROLE FOR BERGMANN

VIERA, Fla.; Jason Bergmann was a member of the Nationals’ starting rotation each of the past two springs when the club broke camp. If the right-hander manages to head north to Washington this year, he will do so as a member of the bullpen.

Manager Manny Acta said Monday that Bergmann’s only shot at making the Opening Day roster right now is as a middle reliever, a switch the 27-year-old is accepting — but perhaps grudgingly.

After a wildly inconsistent 2008 that featured a few dazzling performances but ended with a 2-11 record and 5.09 ERA, Bergmann reported to spring training hoping to get another shot at the rotation. But the additions of Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera — plus the emergence of young starters Collin Balester and Jordan Zimmermann — leaves little room for another starter.

So following his throwing session Monday, Bergmann asked Acta how the organization is viewing him. The manager said he needed to focus on working out of the bullpen.

“He felt… his preparation, especially his mental preparation, will be better if he knew what he is going for,” Acta said.

Bergmann, who has 45 career appearances as a reliever (50 as a starter), didn’t sound especially pleased to learn of his new role, though he said he would do whatever the team needed.

CABRERA GOES HOME

Daniel Cabrera was a no-show at Monday’s workout, but the right-hander had a valid excuse. His wife was scheduled to give birth via Caesarean section, so he was cleared to fly home to the Dominican Republic to join her.

The former Orioles starter, who signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract with Washington this winter, could rejoin the club as soon as Tuesday.

— Mark Zuckerman

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Odalis Perez [DOWN]

Guys who sign minor league deals one week before camp shouldn’t be holding out

Young guns [UP]

Plenty of eyes on Zimmermann and Detwiler during throwing sessions

Dogs at spring training [UP]

Three pooches in attendance at Monday’s workout

OVERHEARD

“We were very brief today because we don’t want to repeat ourselves in [three] days. We didn’t want to go on our full-blown John Wooden speech here.”

— Manager Manny Acta on Monday’s meeting with pitchers and catchers, a precursor to Thursday’s meeting with the entire club

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Mostly sunny, 44 degrees.

Viera: Sunny, 69 degrees.

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Tuesday: Position players report

Wednesday: Pitchers and catchers work out, 9 a.m.

Thursday: First full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

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