CINCINNATI — The goatee was gone, the long hair had been trimmed and the happy-go-lucky mood people in the District became accustomed to in 2005 and 2006 was replaced by a more contemplative, serious tone.
Things have changed a bit for Gary Majewski since the Nationals traded him to the Cincinnati Reds 10 months ago. The right-handed reliever has battled a controversial shoulder injury, spent time on the disabled list, spent the last two months in the minor leagues and a few weeks ago lost his half-sister to an all-terrain vehicle accident.
But he was able to crack a smile yesterday because he was back in the big leagues, recalled by the Reds for the final game of their series against the Nationals.
“We all know this is a mental game, and you get into your own head,” Majewski said in the Great American Ball Park clubhouse before batting practice. “You just have to accept the fact that that’s what happened. It was unfortunate, but you can’t look back on that. And now I’m back in the big leagues. You just got to do what you can.”
Majewski was one of the top setup men in baseball when Washington general manager Jim Bowden traded him, lefty Bill Bray and three others last July to Cincinnati for Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez. Life hasn’t been the same for the 27-year-old since.
His shoulder, which already was causing him problems before the trade, got worse and landed him on the disabled list, ultimately prompting the Reds to file a grievance with Major League Baseball over the deal.
Majewski insisted he hasn’t followed the story.
“No idea,” he said. “I don’t read the papers. I don’t look at the Internet. If it’s not about hunting or fishing, I don’t know it.”
He did say he finally started feeling 100 percent healthy again about 11/2 months ago, and his performance at Class AAA Louisville (no runs allowed his last eight appearances) seems to confirm that.
“It’s been a lot better,” he said.
But Majewski’s return to the majors was sidetracked earlier this month when his 19-year-old half-sister, Cortney Carraway, died from an ATV accident. He left baseball for four days to attend her funeral and recollect his thoughts. He said the respite did him good.
“You try not to think about it, but of course it will be in the back of your mind every now and then,” he said. “I have a job to do, and I decided to come back and do what I could to come back here.”
Majewski remains close with several Nationals players, especially closer Chad Cordero. The two speak several times a week, and Cordero attended his former roommate’s wedding in Texas over the winter.
Majewski admitted it would be strange to make his return against the Nationals, but he looked forward to the opportunity.
“It’s going to be good to hopefully get in the game tonight,” he said.
Injured starters Shawn Hill and John Patterson will throw off a mound this weekend for the first time since going on the DL. Hill will throw tomorrow at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, with Patterson following him Sunday. Depending on how those sessions go, both pitchers could be sent on minor league rehab assignments in another week. …
Fellow injured right-hander Jason Bergmann had his elbow examined by Cincinnati orthopedist Tim Kremchek last night and was given a cortisone shot. Bergmann is expected to resume throwing Sunday.
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