- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Washington Nationals made two roster moves yesterday in an attempt to address one of the National League’s worst pitching staffs.

The Nationals recalled right-hander Jason Bergmann from Class AAA New Orleans and optioned left-hander Billy Traber to New Orleans. The club also claimed right-hander Zach Day off waivers from the Colorado Rockies and designated catcher Wiki Gonzalez for assignment to make room for Day on the 40-man roster.

Washington is expected to purchase the contract of left-handed rookie Michael O’Connor from New Orleans and have the George Washington product make his major league debut tonight against St. Louis at Busch Stadium on just three days rest.

The Nationals’ pitching staff entered yesterday ranked 12th in the 16-team NL with a 5.08 ERA.

Day rejoins the Nationals after being traded with outfielder J.J. Davis to Colorado for outfielder Preston Wilson on July 13. It’s debatable what Day can bring to the Nationals staff. The Rockies designated Day, who has said he has a tight shoulder, for assignment Friday.

That still didn’t stop the Nationals from claiming him.

“We’ve talked to Dr. [Tim] Kremchek, who said both his shoulder and elbow are sound. It’s just that he has muscle spasms in the back,” Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. “We’ve had some history with him. He’s only 26 years old, so it certainly makes sense for us to take a chance on him and see if we can’t get him back to the effective pitcher he was in the past.”

The sinkerball specialist is scheduled to report to the Nationals tomorrow. Even though he never sought medical treatment with Colorado, Day complained of a tight right shoulder after getting pounded by San Diego for eight runs on 11 hits on April 19. Afterward, Day said tightness forced him to short-arm the ball. He was released after the poor outing.

Day’s agent was prepared to file a grievance against the Rockies because teams can’t release injured players. The Nationals voided the grievance because they claimed Day off waivers. Day went 19-21 with a 4.31 ERA in part of four seasons (2002-05) with the franchise.

If necessary, the Nationals are prepared to place Day on the disabled list. Day will throw on the side, and the club will then decide what to do with him.

Day went 1-2 with a 10.80 ERA in three starts for the Rockies this season.

Meanwhile, right-hander John Patterson doesn’t believe he will to pitch Sunday with his sore right forearm. Patterson was originally scheduled to pitch yesterday, but had the start pushed back because of the injury. The Nationals are undecided on Sunday’s starter.

O’Connor, who led all Nationals minor leaguers in strikeouts last season with 158, opened this season at New Orleans. He had a 2.41 ERA in four starts, and struck out 20 batters in 182/3 innings with the Zephyrs.

Bergmann, who was on Washington’s Opening Day roster, made six appearances with the Zephyrs and went 2-0 with one save and a 2.38 ERA in 111/3 innings.

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