- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 16, 2007

TORONTO — Cell phones and PDAs aren’t allowed in the Washington Nationals’ dugout, which was probably a good thing last night. Otherwise, Manny Acta might have been too occupied to watch his team’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Five injured Nationals pitchers (including starters John Patterson and Jason Bergmann) appeared in minor league games as part of their rehabilitation programs.

“My BlackBerry will be buzzing the whole time after the game,” Acta said.

Nationals officials were particularly interested to get reports on Patterson and Bergmann, both who have been on the disabled list for more than a month with injuries to their throwing arms.

Patterson was a bit rusty in his debut with Class A Potomac. Pitching on the road against Frederick, the right-hander allowed three runs on three hits and three walks over 21/3 innings. His night, which included 45 pitches (25 strikes) ended after surrendering a one-out walk followed by a two-run homer in the third inning.

“I didn’t notice anything popping up in my arm, which is a good sign,” Patterson told reporters afterward. “It’s getting stronger, getting more stamina in it. I didn’t really get tired tonight going three innings and [no more than] 50 pitches. I’m pleased with the way it went, and that’s as much as I could’ve asked for tonight.”

Bergmann, meanwhile, looked sharp pitching for Class AAA Columbus at Ottawa. He tossed three shutout innings, allowing two hits without walking a batter while throwing 22 of his 31 pitches for strikes.

Meanwhile, left-hander Mike O’Connor allowed one run on five hits in a four-inning start for Class AA Harrisburg. O’Connor, recovering from offseason elbow surgery, was followed by right-hander Jerome Williams (sore shoulder), who allowed two unearned runs over three innings.

Finally, reliever Luis Ayala, pitching back-to-back games for Columbus for the first time, threw one scoreless inning.

Acta is hoping Patterson, Bergmann and Williams can all be ready to return to the rotation by the end of the month.

Page update

Mitchell Page, the Nationals hitting coach who was granted a leave of absence last month, remains with the organization and will begin serving as a roving minor league instructor later this summer.

Page, a recovering alcoholic who club sources said had a relapse earlier this season, was told all along he would work with minor leaguers once resolving his personal issues, according to Acta.

In essence, Page and Lenny Harris swapped roles in the organization, with Harris now serving as major league hitting coach. Harris, the all-time major league leader in pinch-hits, will continue to serve on Acta’s staff for the rest of the season.

Extra bases

Ryan Church returned to the Nationals’ lineup after sitting out Thursday’s game with a sore right quadriceps muscle, though he served as designated hitter against the Blue Jays. Acta said Church was healthy enough to play the outfield if needed but would benefit from a night off from the Rogers Centre artificial turf. …

Right fielder Austin Kearns may be used as Washington’s DH tomorrow, a rare day out of the outfield, unless he convinces Acta otherwise. “He fights it,” the manager said. “He wants to play every day.”

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