- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2005

Starting next week, Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson will go to a four-man rotation designed to maximize the talents of his Big Three — Livan Hernandez, Esteban Loaiza and John Patterson — to keep the team in the National League wild-card race.

According to Robinson, the other start will be handled by various members of the bullpen.

“As long as we’re in the race for the wild card, we’ll [go to a four-man rotation], but if we fall out of it there’s no sense doing it,” said Robinson, who added that Hernandez approached him last week in Atlanta and asked why the four-man rotation was not in effect.

The upcoming schedule will help. Monday’s off day, for instance, means Patterson, who pitches tonight against Florida, won’t have to go on three days’ rest until a week from Saturday in San Diego.

“You’re running the risk of getting hurt, sure, but that’s not really what you’re thinking about,” said Patterson, who is 8-4 with a 2.44 ERA this season. “You’re thinking about giving your team the best chance to win. If this is something I can do to help this team get to the playoffs, I’ll do it.”

Pitching coach Randy St. Claire voiced a few concerns. Less rest means more starts, and more starts means more innings for Patterson, who has a history of arm troubles.

“If he gets five more starts, that would get him close to 200 innings. He’s never been close to that,” St. Claire said. “I don’t think we have the guys right now to do it.”

Of course, the Nationals don’t have the guys not to do it either. With right-handers Ryan Drese and Tony Armas Jr. plagued with shoulder problems, there’s no reliable fourth starter, let alone a fifth. Drese is expected to undergo season-ending surgery soon to repair a torn labrum. Armas is resting for 10 days before the Nationals decide on his status. And no one from the minors appears ready to pitch in a pennant race.

“At this time, it’s good for the team,” Hernandez said. “It’s now or never. You go and pitch and see if something different happens. I like to win. I’ll do anything possible to win. So I’ll go do it even if my knee isn’t 100 percent. Like I said to Frank, there is no more September, and the other September is next year.”

Carroll nominated

Utility infielder Jamey Carroll was named the Nationals’ nominee for the 2005 Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who combines outstanding skills on the field with devoted work in the community. Carroll, whose T.W.O. (Together We’ll Overcome) Foundation received a check for $2,500 from John Hancock Financial Services, will find out whether he was picked from the 30 nominated players at a press conference before Game 3 of the 2005 World Series.

Donate at RFK

All of Washington’s professional sports teams will be represented in RFK Stadium’s parking Lot 8 tomorrow to accept donations on behalf of the American Red Cross to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Players from the Nationals, Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, Mystics and D.C. United will be on hand throughout the day to accept money in a special “Drive-Thru” donation program. The public can donate any time between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. and can enter Lot 8 off Independence Avenue.

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