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Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES – The Washington Nationals announced four roster moves on Friday.
One move may have a historic impact on major league baseball. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will go on the disabled list Saturday, and the Nationals will call up Bryce Harper and start him against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Saturday's game.
The other roster move may have a more immediate impact on the pitching staff. Brad Lidge, who has an abdominal strain, was put on the disabled list retroactive to April 22. To replace the veteran relief pitcher, Ryan Perry was called up from Triple-A Syracuse.
Zimmermann has not played since Sunday because of a shoulder injury, and he had been day-to-day since the start of the West Coast road trip. The action will be retroactive to April 21, and he is eligible to return to the active roster on May 6.
"I want to play, but at least I get some closure," said Zimmerman, who had an MRI and saw Dr. Neil ElAttrache before Friday's game. "The MRI showed everything was OK. I should be able to throw starting on Tuesday and should be able to hit the next day."
Manager Davey Johnson said Harper was called up because the team wanted a left-handed bat in the lineup. Johnson said he expects to have Harper in the starting lineup on this weekend.
"[Harper] is a good ball player who has earned the right for the opportunity," Johnson said before Friday's game against the Dodgers. "Harp had a great spring and we have a need for a left-handed bat. He fits the role."
Harper, 19, was the first selection in the 2010 draft after playing junior college ball at the University of Southern Nevada. He signed a $9.9-million contract, the largest ever given to a position player. He won't tun 20 until October 10 of this year.
Harper was hitting .250 with a home run and three RBI at Triple-A Syracuse. In his last 10 games, he hit .290 with a .420 on-base percentage.
Lidge, a right-handed pitcher who has two saves, has an abdominal strain which has bothered him for in the bullpen before the Wednesday afternoon game against San Diego. Lidge said he will get the problem examined in Philadelphia on Monday.
"I want to know exactly what we are dealing with," Lidge said. "I had to say something on Wednesday because I didn't want to get in there and not be able to pitch."
Lidge was optimistic about a quick return to the mound. He said the doctor he will see took care of a similar problem with Zimmerman last year.
Perry, a right-handed pitcher from nearby Pomona, Calif., had a 1-0 record with two saves for Syracuse, striking out 11 batters in nine innings. The former University of Arizona pitcher made 149 relief appearances for the Detroit Tigers from 2009-11.
The promotion of Harper reminded Zimmerman of when he was a highly-regarded prospect.
"I recall when someone said I was the next Mike Schmidt," Zimmermann said, pointing his finger to something going in one ear and out the other. He said his parents raised him to not take that sort of talk to seriously.
"The best advice is that baseball is still baseball," said Zimmerman, who recalls facing John Smoltz when he first came up. "The game is a little bit faster, but you have to get past the fact that you are facing somebody who was on a baseball card. It's the same game."
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