- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2007

When Mike Bacsik took the mound last night for the Washington Nationals, he became the club’s eighth different starting pitcher this season. When Micah Bowie toes the rubber today, he will become the ninth.

A rash of injuries has befallen the Nationals’ starting rotation through the season’s first two months, yet somehow manager Manny Acta’s team has been able to withstand the massive turnover and remain competitive thanks to the organization’s depth of pitching.

“That’s a lot [of injuries] to be able to still go out there and compete,” general manager Jim Bowden said. “But we’ve been able to do it because the organization’s scouting department worked very hard in developing people. Everybody contributed with different arms. … Just a great team effort of stockpiling arms, so we were able to at least be representative every night.”

With starters John Patterson, Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann and Jerome Williams all on the disabled list, the Nationals have been forced to dig into their farm system for healthy arms. Even that, though, was no easy task, because two of the top starters at Class AAA Columbus (Joel Hanrahan and Emiliano Fruto) are injured. Hanrahan, out with a strained hamstring, pitched in extended spring training yesterday and could be close to returning. Fruto, out with a sore elbow, is further behind in his rehabilitation.

Two other injured pitchers with major league experience are progressing in their recovery. Bowden said both left-handers Mike O’Connor (elbow surgery) and Brandon Claussen (shoulder surgery) could be ready to pitch five innings by mid-June.

“I think we’ve got help on the way,” Bowden said.

That said, Bowden reiterated the club won’t rush top pitching prospect Collin Balester (1-2 with a 2.38 ERA at Class AA Harrisburg) to the majors before he is ready.

“We’re not going to be forced to do the wrong thing in developing our players,” he said.

Reds file grievance

Bowden wouldn’t comment on the grievance filed by Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky over last July’s trade that brought Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to Washington and sent now-injured reliever Gary Majewski to Cincinnati.

In a formal complaint submitted to the commissioner’s office, the Reds claim the Nationals did not properly inform them about the state of Majewski’s shoulder before the trade. The right-hander had experienced shoulder problems earlier in the year and received a cortisone shot shortly before the trade was finalized.

Majewski went on the DL three weeks later and still is battling shoulder problems. He’s 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in 13 appearances at Class AAA Louisville.

There’s no timetable for Major League Baseball to make a ruling on the case.

Extra bases

One top minor leaguer is getting a promotion. Left-hander John Lannan will start for Harrisburg tomorrow after going 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA for Class A Potomac.

“He’s dominated,” Bowden said. “He’s done his thing. It’s time to go to the next level.” …

Chris Marrero, last year’s first-round pick, continues to thrive. The 18-year-old is hitting .314 with 10 homers at low Class A Hagerstown.

“Only A-Rod has put up those type of numbers,” Bowden said.

Marrero, though is still developing as a left fielder, so there’s little chance of an imminent promotion.

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