- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Rookie left-hander Mike O’Connor will start today’s series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals at RFK Stadium.

The Washington Nationals activated O’Connor and right-handed reliever Felix Rodriguez off the disabled list yesterday, paving the way for O’Connor’s 17th start of the season. To make room for Rodriguez on the club’s 40-man roster, the Nationals transferred injured outfielder Jose Guillen from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

Because of Saturday’s unexpected doubleheader — caused by Friday’s rainout — the Nationals didn’t have a starting pitcher available on a normal five-day cycle. However, O’Connor (3-7, 5.12 ERA) was available after pitching 22/3 scoreless innings Friday in a rehab assignment with the Class AAA New Orleans Zephyrs.

“I know they want to see me pitch like I did earlier in the season, but I’m just trying to focus on staying healthy and just focus on each start,” O’Connor said.

The Nationals placed O’Connor on the 15-day DL July30 with a strained left elbow. O’Connor said he shut himself down immediately for two weeks once he went on the DL and then took it slowly in his comeback. Friday’s outing against the Memphis Cardinals was O’Connor’s lone rehab assignment.

“There’s no games left. If there were more games, they probably would have had me throw again, but the season ended yesterday [in New Orleans],” O’Connor said. “So there’s nowhere for me to go and throw besides here.”

With a little less than four weeks left in the season, manager Frank Robinson wants to see some consistency out of O’Connor. As for today, O’Connor will be on a tight pitch count, somewhere around 65.

“He’s been effective earlier, but he’s been ineffective here lately,” Robinson said. “We need to see him be effective and be consistent with it. This isn’t what we’ve had a lot of this year, consistency out of the starting rotation.”

Rodriguez struggled in nine rehab outings between Class A Potomac and New Orleans. The veteran reliever allowed nine earned runs in 101/3 innings and finished with an inflated 7.84 ERA. Rodriguez hasn’t pitched since May19 because of right shoulder tendinitis. Rodriguez is 0-1 with a 6.85 ERA in 24 appearances for the Nationals.

Extra bases

The Nationals are skipping left-hander Billy Traber this time around in the rotation. Traber was supposed to start today’s game, but he would have been pitching on just three days’ rest.

Before yesterday’s game, Robinson said Traber (3-3, 7.36) has been bothered by tendinitis in his left shoulder. The club’s training staff confirmed Traber has experienced some inflammation, but that was not the reason why he’s missing his turn.

“I can start,” Traber said. “It doesn’t matter. I’m not going to [pitch], and they’ve got someone else. That’s how it works. I’ll wait for my turn.” …

Robinson is unsure whether injured reliever Micah Bowie (back) will pitch again this season. Bowie can’t guarantee anything either. However, in the next few days, Bowie said he’ll know whether he can resume throwing off a mound. Bowie has been on the DL since Aug.17 and is the only left-hander the Nationals have in their bullpen.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

submit a question, go to the Sports Page



Click to Read More

Click to Hide