The Washington Times - May 29, 2009, 03:31PM

Good afternoon from Citizens Bank Park, where one of the workers who shared the elevator with me up to the press box a little while ago was complaining about how bad the Phillies have been playing. “They’ve lost two out of three like four times already this season.” I just kind of looked at him with a blank stare. Apparently he didn’t realize I cover the Nationals, who would kill to only lose two out of three a little more often.

But today’s a new day, and perhaps the Nats can get back to some semblance of respectability this weekend against a Phillies club that legitimately is not playing as well as a defending World Series champ should.


Washington will have another new arm in the bullpen starting tonight. Right-hander Mike MacDougal had his contract purchased from Class AAA Syracuse. I’ll be interested to see what MacDougal has. He’s a former All-Star closer with the Royals with a great arm, but he kind of fell off the face of the earth and was terrible early this season with the White Sox, who then released him.

MacDougal did pitch well at Syracuse, with a 1.23 ERA and two saves in his first seven outings. (He wound up giving up two runs in one inning Wednesday, apparently having settled the whole “out clause” thing, and that raised his final ERA to 3.42.) He’s still prone to walk a few too many batters, which is something the Nats really can’t afford. But at this point, you might as well take a look at him and see if he can’t help you out. Quietly, the Nats’ bullpen has been respectable for the last week to 10 days, with Joel Hanrahan and Joe Beimel settling down and Ron Villone pitching quite well.

The other roster move I expected today was the activation of Jesus Flores off the 15-day DL. Flores played three rehab games with Harrisburg and went 4-for-11. The club’s plan was to activate him in time for tonight’s game, but there’s been no official word about that yet.

Whenever Flores comes back, the Nats do have another roster decision to make. Do they get rid of either Wil Nieves or Josh Bard (who I believe should be back tonight after going home to be with his wife while she gave birth) or do they go with three catchers and drop a reliever? The way things have been going, an eight-man bullpen doesn’t really seem necessary at the moment. Jesus Colome would be a natural candidate to be dropped, but we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store.