- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2005

MIAMI — Joey Eischen has been a member of 11 organizations during a 16-year professional career. Now he’s finally eligible to become a free agent for the first time.

And the left-hander’s future with the Washington Nationals is just as uncertain as the name of the club’s new owner.

“I’m not afraid to change uniforms,” Eischen said before last night’s game against the Florida Marlins. “But I’m a loyalty guy first. These are my teammates, and this is where I’d like to stay.”

Manager Frank Robinson, long one of Eischen’s biggest supporters, would like to bring him back as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. However, Robinson has expressed his desire to acquire a power left-hander to serve as a full-inning set-up man.

“I think Joey has a place on this team,” the manager said. “Joey, as far as I’m concerned, is valuable to this team in [a specialist] role. … If I’m here, I’d certainly like to have him on this team as one of the left-handers out there.”

Eischen’s 2005 season has been full of contradictions. He fought hard to come back from elbow injuries, then broke his right arm diving for a ball May 1 and missed two months. Since returning, he has posted a solid 3.24 ERA over 331/3 innings but has walked 17 batters, hit six more and uncorked five wild pitches.

If Eischen, who is making $1.04 million in his final year of arbitration, doesn’t re-sign with Washington, he said he’d prefer to join a team in the National League West. His mother, a Los Angeles resident, is battling diabetes, and he’d like to be close to her.

Injury update

Pitcher Livan Hernandez will have his right knee examined today by Miami doctor John Uribe. Hernandez has been pitching in pain most of the season and has been forced to adjust his delivery to compensate. There’s a chance he could need offseason surgery.

Catcher Brian Schneider, out with tendinitis in his right shoulder, has been making progress and could play once or twice more before the season’s over.

Pitcher Tony Armas Jr. will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder today in Cincinnati.

Loaiza pushed back

Esteban Loaiza, who had been announced as tonight’s starter, won’t pitch until tomorrow so he’ll be on full four days’ rest. Robinson said he’ll go with a bullpen-only game tonight against the Marlins, but he hadn’t decided on a starter as of last night.

The change means each of Washington’s starters will only make one more appearance this season. Livan Hernandez will now start Friday against the Phillies, with John Patterson on Saturday and Hector Carrasco pitching Sunday’s season finale.

Game-time change

Saturday’s game against the still-contending Philadelphia Phillies at RFK Stadium has been moved from 7:05 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. after Fox picked it up for national broadcast. Parking lots will now open at 2 p.m.

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