- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2005

VIERA, Fla. — The wet weather in Florida is disrupting the Washington Nationals’ pitching rotation.

Yesterday’s rainout forced Tony Armas Jr. to miss his start against the New York Mets. He will pitch in a minor league game today.

Relievers Chad Cordero, Hector Carrasco and T.J. Tucker also are scheduled to pitch in today’s minor league game.

“You still have to go about your business every day and prepare for your next start,” Armas said. “I don’t mind [the minor league game]. I’ve got to get my work in. I respect major league players and minor league players the same. The main thing right now is preparing myself for the season.”

Armas, who likely will be the Nationals’ No. 2 starter, will start at least three more games — weather permitting — before Opening Day.

The weather has disrupted the Nationals’ spring training schedule. Washington has lost three games — all at home — to the rain.

“Anytime you have a rainout or whatever, it backs up the pitching,” manager Frank Robinson said. “So, it affects your pitching and it affects guys getting at-bats. It affects you going out on the field and working on fundamentals. It affects you in all ways, but especially the pitching and the hitters and getting their at-bats and timing. You can’t recoup that time.”

Robinson and pitching coach Randy St. Claire are keeping the starters on their scheduled pitching days rather than pushing players back a day. Esteban Loaiza will make his scheduled start against the Mets tonight Port St. Lucie, Fla., followed by Joey Eischen, Joe Horgan and Jon Rauch.

Robinson had position players hit in the indoor batting cages yesterday and gave pitchers the day off.

Escobar ailing

Outfielder Alex Escobar is nursing an injured quadriceps, an ailment that jeopardizes his chances of making the club.

Escobar was acquired in a trade from the Chicago White Sox the day before spring training began. He is competing with J.J. Davis, Ryan Church and Jeffrey Hammonds for what likely will be the team’s fifth outfielder spot.

Escobar said he has felt sore since his quad flared up four days ago.

Robinson said he would keep Escobar, once one of baseball’s top prospects, the duration of spring training but that his chances of making the club are not good because of the injury. Escobar is batting .083 in 12 plate appearances this spring.

“If this was the last week coming up, it wouldn’t do him any good if he did get healthy in time because he’s not going to make the club in a week,” Robinson said. “But there are a few days to play with right now, and I think he has time to try and win a spot on this ballclub.”

Injuries have hampered Escobar, 26, throughout his career. He missed the 2002 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“It’s always bad not to be playing, especially in the situation that I’m in right now. … You’re not going to make the team being hurt,” Escobar said. “It’s something that is bothering me and I didn’t want it to get to the point where it was going to be more painful or cost me more time off the field.”

Union dues

Major League Baseball Players Association representatives stopped by Space Coast Stadium for their annual spring training meeting with the Nationals.

Former Baltimore Oriole Bobby Bonilla led the union’s delegation inside the Nationals’ clubhouse.

Catcher Brian Schneider, the Nationals’ player representative, said the steroids issue was discussed, but he declined to provide details.

“It was mentioned in here, but of course I’m not going to go in detail because there was a reason why [media] weren’t at the meeting,” Schneider said. “There’s interest in it. It’s is a delicate situation right now. It’s tough to say anything.”

Roster move

The Nationals reassigned right-hander Sun-Woo Kim to the club’s minor league camp yesterday. Kim made three appearances and allowed two runs and four hits in 51/3 innings. The Nationals’ roster now stands at 38 players.



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