- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

When Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden saw reliever Luis Ayala pinch hit in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, he knew it was time to get another bat.

So Bowden bolstered his club’s available hitters at the expense of the pitching staff yesterday by waiving right-handed reliever Sun-Woo Kim and activating infielder Tony Blanco from the 15-day disabled list.

In other moves, the Nationals reinstated infielder Henry Mateo off the 15-day DL and outrighted him to Class AA Harrisburg, and signed veteran left-hander John Halama to a free-agent contract and sent him to Class AAA New Orleans.

With the waiving of Kim, who went 1-2 with a 6.14 ERA in 291/3 innings, the Nationals pitching staff was reduced to 11. Kim, 27, served as a long reliever and emergency starter. Without him, the bullpen has nobody who is considered a long reliever.

“It concerns me quite a bit, but there is nothing I can do about it,” manager Frank Robinson said. “If I need a long man, we go right into our short group and there is nobody out there that can save the bullpen. [Kim] did a good job here.”

In two starts, Kim allowed three runs in 92/3 innings with no record. The Colorado Rockies claimed him off waivers yesterday.

Though they didn’t want to waive Kim, the Nationals were forced to make a roster move because Blanco’s stint on the 15-day DL was over. Blanco, who had been out since July 13 with vertigo associated with a sinus infection, was on a rehab assignment at New Orleans. The Nationals had to reinstate him or put him on waivers.

In 16 rehab games at New Orleans, the 23-year-old Blanco batted .281 with 14 RBI.

The Nationals selected Blanco from Cincinnati in the Rule V Draft last Dec. 13. Before going on the DL, he batted .250 (11-for-44) with one home run and seven RBI in 39 games.

“Anytime a team has any thoughts of contending for a championship and you carry a Rule V guy that you’re not going to play a lot, it’s a problem,” Robinson said.

Meanwhile, Halama, a seven-year veteran, adds pitching depth. The 6-foot-5 lefty has a 52-43 record in 205 major league games. Halama’s best year was in 2000, when he went 14-9 with a 4.58 ERA for Seattle. The Nationals claimed Halama off waivers from Boston.

Armas pushed back

With a day off Monday, the Nationals will give right-hander Tony Armas Jr. extra rest and push back his next scheduled start. Armas left Wednesday’s win over the Dodgers after five innings and was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right shoulder.

Armas, who missed most of two seasons after rotator cuff surgery in 2003, will pitch Thursday in Houston or Saturday in Colorado. Right-hander John Patterson will start Tuesday’s series opener against the Astros on what would be Armas’ (6-5) normal turn.

“It allows us to give him a couple extra days’ rest,” pitching coach Randy St. Claire said. “I’m not putting a day on it, he could either go the third day, which would be the last day in Houston, or it could be the second game in Colorado because we’re afforded that luxury with the day off to just go by how he feels.”

Extra bases

Nationals fans have an opportunity to add input on what the proposed stadium in Southeast should look like and what features it should have. The Washington Sports and Entertainment Commission announced a new interactive section to its revised Web site, www.WashDCSports.com, called “Your DC Ball Park” that allows fans to have their say. … The Nationals will hold a blood drive today at RFK Stadium. All donors will receive two free tickets for a game.

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