MILWAUKEE — Zach Day will be in uniform at RFK Stadium tonight. Just not a Washington Nationals uniform.
The right-hander, traded to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday for outfielder Preston Wilson, likely will pitch at RFK Stadium before he even makes his Coors Field debut. By sheer fluke of schedule, the Nationals play host to the Rockies for three games starting tonight.
For Day, this is an opportunity to formally say goodbye to several ex-teammates he never got a chance to see before the trade went down during the All-Star break.
“I talked to a few of them, but yeah, it was weird,” he told Denver reporters. “I am looking forward to going back and wishing them well.”
Day made his Rockies debut Saturday, coming out of the bullpen in the sixth inning in his hometown of Cincinnati. He gave up an unearned run and was charged with a blown save.
It’s ironic Day is beginning his Colorado career pitching out of the bullpen since his downfall in Washington came about in part because of his demotion from the rotation to the pen.
Day expressed frustration at Frank Robinson’s lack of patience, but the Nationals manager said the club couldn’t afford to ride out the 27-year-old’s struggles because it suddenly found itself in a pennant race.
“We couldn’t give him the time that he needed to develop at this level,” Robinson said. “We were always looking for him to produce, to be effective and to win the games this year that he was participating in. I think eventually that had an effect on him mentally, and I think it affected his physical ability to pitch at this level here.”
Day posted a 6.75 ERA before going on the disabled list with a fractured right forearm.
“Each time he went out there, he felt the pressure to be perfect,” Robinson said. “He wasn’t, and no one else is in this game. And I think that affected his ability to get major-league hitters out. So this is why you make decisions like that [to trade him].”
Keep your cool
Cristian Guzman was ejected from Saturday’s game after arguing a called third strike with umpire Paul Schrieber.
Guzman’s frustration at the borderline call was understandable — he was 0-for-10 since returning from a strained hamstring, lowering his batting average to .193 — but that didn’t make it acceptable to Robinson.
The manager has tried to impart to his players the importance of keeping their cool during heated moments.
“What our players really have to understand is we have to be able to endure it and suck it up,” Robinson said. “Because we can’t afford to have guys thrown out of ballgames. We’re short as it is, and it ties my hands as to what I can do later on.”
This week’s series against the Rockies serves as a reunion for Wilson, who will face his old club just five days after getting traded. The 31-year-old center fielder said he’s trying not to pay extra attention to this series, but he did say he already has noticed the difference between playing for a first-place club (Washington) and a last-place club (Colorado).
“You can definitely see it,” Wilson said. “The little things get done a lot more here. It’s definitely more business-like. It’s about baseball. Guys enjoy themselves and enjoy each other, but there’s nothing else besides baseball that’s being talked about.” …
Reliever Joey Eischen’s struggles continue. The left-hander plunked Milwaukee’s Geoff Jenkins on a 1-1 pitch in the eighth inning yesterday and was immediately pulled without facing another batter. Eischen has failed to retire the last six hitters he has faced, spanning five games.