- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2007

Jason Simontacchi, who leads the Washington Nationals’ starting rotation with six wins, will have his injured right elbow examined by orthopedist James Andrews today in Birmingham, Ala.

Simontacchi, on the 15-day disabled list since July 16 with right elbow tendinitis, will seek a second opinion from Andrews, hoping he can avoid season-ending surgery.

“It scares you because I’ve never had a problem with my elbow before,” the 33-year-old said before leaving town last night. “So I don’t know what to expect, what the heck’s going on. I don’t know what’s going on with it. It hasn’t gotten any better; it hasn’t gotten any worse. But it doesn’t make any sense for me to go out there when I’m 75 percent or whatever.”

Simontacchi received a cortisone shot for his ailment shortly after he went on the DL. When the Nationals suggested he receive another one this week, he instead opted to go to Birmingham for a second opinion.

“Get someone else’s say,” he said. “If they’re on the same page, then we’ll go from there.”

Three years removed from shoulder surgery that derailed his career, Simontacchi returned strong to the majors this season, going 6-7 despite a 6.37 ERA. He’s not sure how he hurt his elbow, and there remain no visual signs of injury, such as inflammation or discoloration.

“He didn’t even think himself it was anything serious,” manager Manny Acta said. “But he wants to get a second opinion and he’s entitled to it.”

DCSEC: Pick up the pace

The head of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission yesterday said he would like to increase the pace of work on the Nationals‘ new ballpark to ensure that it is completed in time for Opening Day of next season.

Commission CEO Greg O’Dell said he has asked the stadium construction team, led by Clark Construction of Bethesda, to boost the number of workers at the site from 720 to the maximum of 900.

“We want to get the capacity up there to make sure we’re completing the job on time,” O’Dell said during the commission’s monthly board meeting.

The project is on time and on budget, though the city is expected to enter into arbitration with the Nationals to settle a dispute over the cost of furniture, fixtures and equipment. The two sides will receive a schedule and agenda for the arbitration proceedings this morning.

Also yesterday, officials said the commission will begin exploring possible non-baseball uses for the ballpark once it opens. The city has the rights to use the stadium for 18 events each year and some members suggested that concerts could be held there, noting several recent shows at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Extra bases

Chris Marrero, last year’s top draft pick, has been rated the best hitting prospect in both the Carolina and South Atlantic leagues by Baseball America. The survey, which is voted on by minor league managers, takes into account the fact Marrero started the season at low Class A Hagerstown and was promoted to high Class A Potomac. …

The Nationals‘ rotation for the weekend is set. Tim Redding will start tomorrow night against the St. Louis Cardinals, with Joel Hanrahan making his second career start Saturday and Matt Chico pitching Sunday.

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