- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

PHOENIX — Nook Logan was brought in by the Washington Nationals two weeks ago in a last-resort move by a club that has been searching for a reliable center fielder seemingly since the day it relocated to the District.

It’s still way too early to tell, but Logan in glimpses has shown he might be the Nationals’ long-lost answer.

A speedy defensive specialist, Logan has lived up to that reputation, making several highlight-reel catches in his 13 games with Washington.

“What I like about him is we have someone who can really go get the ball,” manager Frank Robinson said this week. “You feel comfortable with him out there that he’s going to make some plays for you and help your pitching staff.”

The Nationals had no expectation of Logan’s ability with the bat — a career .268 hitter, he barely cracked the .200-mark this season in his combined time with the Detroit Tigers’ Class AA and AAA teams — but he has had his moments there, too.

Entering tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, the 26-year-old is hitting .310 (13-for-42) with a homer, five RBI and six runs scored, mostly out of the eighth spot in the lineup. He produced the game-winning hit Tuesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, singling up the middle in the eighth inning to give Washington a 5-4 victory.

“It feels kind of good to be coming through the last couple days,” he said.

The Nationals still look at Logan as a long-term project. A switch-hitter, he’s always had trouble swinging from the left side of the plate, and despite his recent success, Robinson sees some flaws.

“He has no foundation from the left side,” Robinson said. “He drifts, gets out on his front foot. No bat speed.”

Logan knows the disparity between his two swings — he’s a career .321 hitter against left-handers but bats only .247 against right-handers — but he also knows a permanent job is waiting for him in Washington if he can sustain this level of play.

“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I’ve got a job to do, and at the end of the year, coming into next year, I want to have a spot to play.”

Ohka returns

The Nationals will be facing a familiar foe tonight when right-hander Tomo Ohka pitches for the Brewers against Ramon Ortiz.

Ohka spent parts of five seasons with the Nationals franchise and went 4-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 10 appearances last year before getting dealt to Milwaukee for second baseman Junior Spivey.

Bowie progressing

Reliever Micah Bowie, out since Aug. 10 with a strained lateral muscle in his upper left back, has been throwing in the bullpen recently with no pain and could be close to returning to the mound.

Bowie, a surprisingly effective left-hander who posted a 1.37 ERA in 15 appearances for Washington before getting hurt, plans to throw a simulated game at RFK this week and hopes to be activated off the 15-day disabled list by the weekend.



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