- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

MILWAUKEE — The Washington Nationals placed Chad Cordero on baseball’s bereavement list yesterday, giving the 25-year-old closer an opportunity to fly to Southern California and see his grandmother, who is dying of brain cancer.

The condition of Josie Cordero, 76, has been deteriorating for the last few weeks, and it clearly affected Chad Cordero. He admitted he wasn’t entirely focused during Sunday’s game in Chicago, when he blew his fourth save in eight chances, and on Monday he asked manager Manny Acta whether he could have a couple of days off to regroup.

The club decided to place him on the bereavement list, which allows a player to miss anywhere from three to seven days and promote a minor leaguer to take his place. Right-hander Winston Abreu, who had a 0.50 ERA in 10 games with Class AAA Columbus, had his contract purchased and was available to pitch last night against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Acta said he expects Cordero to miss a full week and rejoin the club Monday in Washington. He felt the move was appropriate given his closer’s mental state.

“You put two and two together, and it’s not a tough decision to make,” the manager said.

Acta said right-hander Jon Rauch will take over closing duties as long as Cordero is away. The 28-year-old setup man recorded the only two saves of his career last season and said he’s up to the challenge.

“It’s pitching,” he said. “It’s still my job to go out there and get outs. Regardless of what inning it is, it’s still the same job.”

Wagner to DL

The Nationals lost another member of their bullpen yesterday for what could be an extended period of time. Right-hander Ryan Wagner was placed on the 15-day disabled list with rotator cuff inflammation in his throwing shoulder, retroactive to Monday.

Wagner, 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA in 14 appearances, acknowledged he had been pitching in pain for more than a week before informing club officials.

“I was just trying to play hero and battle through it,” he said. “Sometimes that works. But probably more times than others it’s not what you should do.”

This isn’t the first time Wagner has dealt with this type of injury. He missed more than half of the 2005 season with the Cincinnati Reds with a similar ailment, and he described the pain he’s currently in as “worse.”

Wagner will have an MRI tomorrow in the District, after which team doctors will determine the extent of the injury.

“We hope it’s not anything worse,” he said. “Could it be? Maybe. But you hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

Roster reshuffling

The Nationals wound up making a flurry of roster moves before last night’s game. Along with Cordero and Wagner, infielder Josh Wilson was removed from the roster. Wilson was designated for assignment after going 1-for-19 with five errors in limited playing time.

Aside from Abreu, two more players were added to the 25-man roster: right-hander Jason Simontacchi, who started the game against the Brewers, and veteran infielder Tony Batista, who had his contract purchased from Class AAA Columbus.

Batista, a 10-year veteran and two-time All-Star with the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, was hitting .290 with six homers and 22 RBI in 30 games with the Clippers.

“He was playing very well over there, as he should,” Acta said. “He’s a big league guy playing in Triple-A. Same old Tony.”

The 33-year-old Batista is a career .251 hitter with 219 home runs and 702 RBI. He arrived at Miller Park last night during batting practice and was available to come off the bench.

Acta said Batista could see action in the field at third base and first base but not at either middle infield position.

With Wilson gone, second baseman Felipe Lopez becomes Washington’s backup shortstop. Acta also said he would be willing to play Ronnie Belliard there if starter Cristian Guzman needed a day off.

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