- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2005

Washington Nationals rookie right-hander Jason Bergmann will start today’s series finale against the Atlanta Braves at RFK Stadium.

Manager Frank Robinson remained undecided on a starter for today all week, waiting to see how his bullpen would be used leading up to the game. Bergmann’s recent history against the National League East leaders also played a factor.

In 92/3 innings of relief since being called up Aug.28, Bergmann is 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA. The victory came against the Braves, against whom he has not allowed a run in 51/3 innings.

“I think [Bergmann] is the right man to start the game and hopefully give us some quality innings, and then we can go to the next two guys,” Robinson said. “He has pitched very well since he’s been up here and hopefully [we’ll] get the same tomorrow from him.”

The Nationals brought up Bergmann, who posted a 5-2 mark with seven saves and a 2.19 ERA between Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA New Orleans, to add depth to their bullpen. Now, however, he has been thrust into a starting role as Washington tries to remain in the wild-card race.

“I’m not going to think about starting. I’m just going to think about going out there with the frame of mind that the other day I went there and faced the top of the order,” Bergmann said. “Tomorrow, I’m going to go out there 1-2-3 and work from there.

“[Robinson] opted to go with me just to start the game, and he’s already claimed it to be a bullpen day. We have an offday on Monday, and it gives everybody a chance to get back up on their feet.”

Johnson still sitting

Robinson will keep the ailing Nick Johnson out of the lineup until Tuesday when the Nationals open a six-game road trip against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium even though the first baseman insists he’s ready to return.

Robinson figured tomorrow’s offday meant more time to rest Johnson’s bruised right heel, which has caused him to miss the last seven games. He originally injured the heel June26 when he stepped awkwardly on home plate and missed 24 games, then aggravated it Sept.3.

“It’s good that he’s ready, and I talked to him and said, ‘What were you the last time you came back? What percentage?’ And he said about 75 percent. I said, ‘What are you now?’ He said about 65. I just don’t feel like that’s quite enough right now,” Robinson said.

Bonds on the way?

San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds will be activated from the disabled list tomorrow, and that means he should be with the Giants when they roll into RFK for a three-game series beginning Sept.20.

The 41-year-old hasn’t played at all this season while recovering from three operations on his right knee.

“We can play the Giants without him or we can play them with him,” Robinson said. “A lot of clubs caught the Giants without him, and we have to be the unfortunate one, maybe one of the few teams, that are going to catch them probably with him.”

With 703 career home runs, Bonds is 52 home runs shy of tying Hank Aaron’s all-time home run mark and needs just 12 to pass Babe Ruth for second place.

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