- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PHILADELPHIA — Washington Nationals left-hander Ray King appears ready to come off the 15-day disabled list Friday without going on a minor league rehab assignment.

King threw 20 pitches in a simulated game before last night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, and he said he felt good.

“By throwing to hitters today, I don’t think it will be any different than going down to a minor league game and seeing hitters,” King said.

King was placed on the DL on April 12 with tendinitis in his left shoulder. His activation depends on how he feels this morning.

Should King be activated, the Nationals would be forced to make a roster move.

Right-hander Saul Rivera was called up from Class AAA Columbus when King was placed on the DL. He had not allowed a run in 61/3 innings until Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand homered to open the seventh in last night’s 6-3 loss.

General manager Jim Bowden would prefer to keep 13 pitchers, but manager Manny Acta wants 12 so that he can have more late-game pinch-hitting options.

“We’re going to have to consider every angle and make the best decision possible,” Acta said of King’s possible activation. “I’m taking a look at [13 pitchers], but it really just ties my hands a lot when it comes down to pinch-hitting and stuff.”

Simontacchi heads north

Jason Simontacchi is creeping closer to the Nationals’ starting rotation. The right hander is scheduled to pitch Friday for the Columbus Clippers against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Simontacchi injured the abductor muscle in his right leg in a Grapefruit League game against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 14. Considered a lock to make the roster because of a strong spring, Simontacchi was reassigned to the team’s extended spring training camp five days before Opening Day to rehab his leg.

“If he throws well, and I think one more start or maybe right after this start, he’ll be ready to be called back up here,” Bowden said. “So it’s going to be one or two starts down there, and we’ll see how Friday’s goes.”

With right-hander Jerome Williams (0-4, 7.77 ERA) pitching poorly, the Nationals need better production at the back end of the rotation.

Simontacchi has pitched in four extended spring games, but four innings was his longest outing.

“We’ve had him on strict pitch counts,” Bowden said. “He’s ready for five innings Friday, and then he’ll be ready to go six or seven the next time. So he’s ready.”

Ayala pitches

Injured setup man Luis Ayala pitched a scoreless inning Monday in an extended spring game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had one strikeout.

Ayala, who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, opened the season on the 15-day DL. The Nationals have no timetable on his return.

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