- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2005

PHILADELPHIA — Tuesday’s rainout disrupted the Nationals’ rotation for this weekend’s series at the New York Mets and forced the team to make a roster move for Sunday.

Right-hander Ryan Drese had been scheduled to pitch that day but instead is pitching the second game of today’s day-night doubleheader.

The Nationals will call up veteran left-hander John Halama today from Class AAA New Orleans, where he is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in eight innings, and have optioned outfielder Brandon Watson back to New Orleans. Halama probably will start Sunday.

The Nationals signed Halama on Aug.6, the same day reliever Sun-Woo Kim was claimed by the Colorado Rockies. Washington waived Kim to create a roster spot for infielder Tony Blanco, who was activated off the 15-day disabled list.

A long reliever and starter throughout his career, Halama went 1-1 with a 6.18 ERA in 30 games before the Boston Red Sox designated him for assignment.

Another option available to Robinson on Sunday is to pitch Esteban Loaiza on just three days’ rest. Loaiza, who started last night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, would be the only starter who would have to go on short rest because Monday is an off-day.

“It’s an option, but I probably won’t do it,” manager Frank Robinson said.

Zimmerman at short

Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals’ 2005 first-round draft pick, played shortstop for the first time as a minor leaguer last night for the Class AA Harrisburg Senators. He had three putouts and two assists in an errorless night.

This move is a strong indication the club is considering replacing slumping shortstop Cristian Guzman when rosters expand to 40 players on Sept.1.

Zimmerman, a third baseman throughout his collegiate career at Virginia, is hitting .310 with seven home runs and 27 RBI for the Senators. The Nationals selected Zimmerman with the fourth pick overall in June’s draft.

Zimmerman started his professional career with the low-Class A Savannah Sand Gnats, hitting .471 (8-for-17) in four games before quickly being promoted. Many within the club believe Zimmerman will skip Class AAA ball and go straight to the majors.

Meanwhile, Guzman went 1-for-2 last night with a double, raising his batting average to .190.

Staying in left field

There is no timetable for Jose Guillen’s return to right field. Robinson moved Guillen to left Monday to save wear and tear on his throwing arm after he had an MRI taken on his right elbow that revealed tendinitis.

Guillen, the Nationals’ leader with 21 home runs and 65 RBI, injured his arm throwing out Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman at the plate last Thursday.

“Don’t worry about J.G. [Jose Guillen] in the outfield. Worry about J.G.’s hitting,” said Guillen, who is batting .303.

Guillen has started 104 games in right field.

Doubleheader blues

Robinson, 69, has played in or managed his share of doubleheaders. Today’s will be the first for the Nationals. Game1 begins at 1:05 p.m. with the nightcap scheduled to start at 7:05.

“I don’t like doubleheaders, period, because it’s too difficult to win a doubleheader,” Robinson said. “They destroy pitching staffs, and it’s just tough to get your guys up for two ballgames.”

Eckstein to coach in Cup

Rick Eckstein, bench coach of the Nationals’ short-season Class A affiliate in the New York-Penn League, the Vermont Expos, was named bench coach of the 2005 U.S. World Cup team yesterday.

Eckstein, the brother of St. Louis Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein, was one of three coaches Team USA manager Davey Johnson selected. This will be Eckstein’s first coaching experience with the U.S. national team, which begins pool play Sept.4 against Colombia in the Netherlands.

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