The Washington Nationals' rotation, which comprised five starters with 95 career starts heading into Thursday, has sailed along through June. But the group is likely about to get a shakeup.
Left-hander Scott Olsen, who has been out since May 17 with left shoulder tendinitis, threw 58 of his 75 pitches for strikes in six scoreless innings for Class AAA Syracuse on Wednesday. He is expected to be called up in time to make his next scheduled start Monday.
Olsen's velocity, which had dipped into the mid- to high 80s before he went on the DL, was apparently back in the low 90s during his latest rehab start. That's the best the Nationals have seen it all year.
The team has made a decision about who will head back to the minors when Olsen returns.
Craig Stammen would be the logical choice to return to the minors. He was the most recent addition to the Nationals' rotation after Olsen went on the disabled list. Left-hander Ross Detwiler is thought to be the other possibility, though acting general manager Mike Rizzo said last week the choice was "not necessarily" limited to Stammen and Detwiler.
In seven starts this season, Stammen is 1-3 with a 5.49 ERA. Detwiler is 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA, also in seven starts.
Kasten backs Acta
Nearly two weeks after a set of media reports surfaced that manager Manny Acta was about to be fired, team president Stan Kasten gave a strong statement in support of the manager while speaking at a National Press Club luncheon.
"I think he has the demeanor to be a long-term solution as a manager, the demeanor of a Bobby Cox and others who have been successful," Kasten said. "I have always been and continue to support Manny. I can't predict whether it's going to work here, but I think it will and I think he's going to - he certainly has the potential to be a long-term manager here, and that's my hope."
Johnson leaves early
First baseman Nick Johnson left Thursday's game in the second inning with a left shin contusion after getting hit in the leg by a pitch in the first. Adam Dunn moved from left field to first base to replace him.
Johnson has been on the disabled list every year of his career and missed all of 2007.
Shortstop Daniel Espinosa, who is hitting .264 with nine homers and 33 RBI at Class A Potomac, was selected to the U.S. team in the XM Futures Game, scheduled for July 12 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Espinosa, the Nationals' third-round pick in 2008, was the only member of the organization selected to the game. He has a .375 on-base percentage and 12 stolen bases this season.