- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Manager Frank Robinson won’t be asking much of Darrell Rasner when the right-hander makes his major league debut tonight for the Washington Nationals. He just wants five innings out of the rookie starter against the Florida Marlins.

“Hopefully, he can reach five innings, and we’re in the ballgame,” Robinson said about the 24-year-old Rasner, who was called up from Class AA Harrisburg yesterday. “I don’t want to be out of the ballgame in five innings, but if he can gives us a good, solid five innings. …”

Rasner, who went 6-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 27 games for Harrisburg, was just one of a series of moves made by the Nationals yesterday. They recalled right-handed reliever Travis Hughes and purchased the contract of veteran catcher Keith Osik from Class AAA New Orleans. To clear room on the 40-man roster, the Nationals transferred right-hander Ryan Drese (shoulder) from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.

This will be Hughes’ third stint this season with the Nationals. Hughes (1-0) has appeared in five games and has not allowed a run in 42/3 innings.

Meanwhile, Osik, 36, is a .231 career hitter in 10 major league seasons. He was a spring training invitee but was cut in late March before the Nationals broke camp. The moves bring the Nationals’ roster to 33 players.

In other news, reliever Luis Ayala underwent a saline-induced MRI yesterday on his ailing right elbow that revealed a bone spur, but no ligament damage. The plan is to rest Ayala for a week and hope he can return to the mound.

Also, right-hander Tony Armas Jr. will be examined in Dallas today by Dr. John Conway. Armas is seeking other medical opinions on what is causing tightness in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Armas, who has been banished to the Nationals’ bullpen, allowed 11 runs on 13 hits in seven innings over his last two starts.

Surgery for Vidro?

Second baseman Jose Vidro said he would not rule out knee surgery depending on what an MRI reveals today.

Vidro, who was forced from Thursday’s game in Atlanta with right knee inflammation, had surgery on the same knee during the offseason to remove an inflamed portion of his patellar tendon.

“I haven’t had an MRI yet, so I don’t know what the situation is,” Vidro said.

This has been a disappointing, injury-plagued season for the three-time All-Star. He missed 54 games with a torn left ankle tendon, and since coming off the 15-day disabled list July5, he has battled problems in both quadriceps while compensating for his bum ankle.

Team physicians believe Vidro is suffering from patellar tendinitis. Vidro received a cortisone shot following Thursday’s game and said yesterday his knee feels much better.

“I don’t know if he needs knee surgery. I think this is just a reaction from the surgery he had,” Robinson said. “I don’t think he needs surgery. He probably needs time with this thing and to recoup and rehab not only the knee but his quads. I think it’s just a matter of him having the winter off and rehabbing this stuff now. I don’t think an operation for this is necessary for his problem.”

Zimmerman’s role

Rookie third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played sparingly since being called up from Harrisburg on Thursday but is making the most of his opportunities. Zimmerman singled to left in his only at-bat yesterday after entering the game as a defensive sub for Vinny Castilla in the seventh inning.

In three games, Zimmerman is 2-for-5 and has shown exceptional defensive skills.

“There’s no certain plan to use him in a certain way,” Robinson said. “He’ll be used where I feel like he will have a chance to help us win a ballgame. That’s the reason why those guys are call-ups, and that’s the reason why they’re here, to be used where we feel like they can be used.”

Zimmerman, the Nationals’ first-round pick this year out of Virginia, has a realistic approach to his first stint in the majors.

“I’m just happy to be here, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I don’t expect anything. I just do whatever they tell me to do.”

Extra bases

Placido Domingo, general director of the Washington National Opera and one of the famed Three Tenors, performed the national anthem. …

Injured outfielder Ryan Church is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Thursday. When asked whether he’s ready to return, Church replied, “Believe it.”

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