- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden had a deal in place yesterday morning to trade disgruntled pitcher Zach Day, but the trade fell through when an MRI revealed a hairline fracture in Day’s right arm.

‘We had a deal in place today that we thought made us a better club,’ Bowden said. ‘I called [Day] this morning to check in with him and then got word that he had a slight fracture and is out four to six weeks. So that ended … his opportunity to go somewhere else.’

Bowden wouldn’t identify the other team involved, but it’s believed the Nationals had been talking to the Colorado Rockies about outfielder Preston Wilson and the Florida Marlins about outfielder Juan Encarnacion.

Day was drilled by Ken Griffey Jr.’s line drive in the sixth inning of a 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on May 23. X-rays after the game showed no break.

Day pitched two days later and allowed five runs in two innings of mop-up duty in the series finale. The Nationals optioned him to Class AAA New Orleans the next day, but after reporting he complained of a sore arm. He returned to Cincinnati yesterday to be re-evaluated by Dr. Timothy Kremchek, the Nationals’ senior medical consultant.

A second series of X-rays yesterday also came back normal, but the MRI showed the fracture. Because of the injury, Day’s option to the Zephyrs was canceled and he was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 26.

Day and Nationals manager Frank Robinson have had their problems this season. Day, who went 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 12 games, said Robinson was not letting him pitch out of jams.

When Robinson yanked Day after 3-2/3 innings in a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 3, Day didn’t even acknowledge the manager’s presence when Robinson went to the mound.

A pair of shoulders

Right-handed reliever Jon Rauch may be able to pitch again this season after all. Rauch underwent shoulder surgery at Washington Hospital Center, and the procedure revealed he had a partial rotator cuff tear rather than a torn labrum.

A torn labrum would have meant Rauch, who is 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA, was lost for the season. Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the Nationals’ orthopedic surgeon, said Rauch could start throwing in six weeks and could be back on the mound in three months. That means he could return in September.

‘It is not the kind of tear that keeps you out for the season,’ Douoguih said.

Meanwhile, injured outfielder Terrmel Sledge will undergo right shoulder surgery tomorrow to repair what Douoguih described as a ‘slap tear’ in his non-throwing shoulder.

Sledge tore his hamstring May 2 in Los Angeles and had surgery to repair it two weeks ago. Since he already was out, it made sense to fix his shoulder, too.

‘With Sledge being gone for the year, you might as well get him as healthy as possible so next season he can become the comeback player of the year, which I’m planning on him being, by the way,’ Bowden said. ‘It needed to be repaired, and this is the time to do it.’

Extra bases

Former Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul attended last night’s game. Paul, who declared for this month’s NBA Draft, signed a contract with McLean-based Octagon Sports in April and is working out for a few days at National Cathedral School. …

Reliever C.J. Nitkowski, the only left-hander on the team, struggled for a third straight appearance, surrendering two runs on one hit in two-thirds of an inning. He has allowed three runs on three hits in one inning of work since the Nationals signed him Thursday after he was released from the Pittsburgh organization.

‘I would like to see him get some lefties out, and he still hasn’t got them out yet,’ Bowden said. ‘… If he wants to stay here, that’s what he’s got to do.’

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