- The Washington Times - Monday, August 25, 2008

— No matter how hard he tries to keep the ball down in the strike zone, Jason Bergmann is a fly-ball pitcher.

The Washington Nationals right-hander has recorded 175 fly-ball outs this season to only 89 groundouts, one of the most lopsided ratios in the majors. Sometimes, he’s able to thrive despite that fact, but often he is victimized by his propensity to let hitters loft the ball into the air.

Take Sunday’s 6-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, in which Bergmann was fairly effective … aside from the two home runs he surrendered in the second inning despite the presence of a strong wind blowing in at cozy Wrigley Field.

“It just happens to be that way for me,” he said.

Bergmann said he has been trying to put more emphasis on keeping the ball down, using his sinker more often. But it doesn’t seem to have an effect, and that frustrates him to no end. He has allowed a team-high 22 homers.

“It’s a lot easier to do things when you use all of your fielders,” he said. “I’m only using three of them.”

With Sunday’s loss, Bergmann fell to 2-10 for the season. He’s the third Nationals pitcher to reach double digits in losses this season, joining John Lannan (7-12) and Odalis Perez (5-10).

Hill still not ready

Though right-hander Shawn Hill has been throwing off a mound at the Nationals’ spring training complex in Viera, Fla., he remains several weeks away from returning to the majors.

General manager Jim Bowden said Sunday that Hill, who has been hampered by forearm pain all season, likely won’t be ready to come off the disabled list as soon as originally planned.

“He’s made some good progress,” Bowden said. “He’s not as far along as I would have hoped. I was hoping he’d be able to pitch in a game September 1. That’s not going to happen now.”

The club now has targeted a return for Hill around Sept. 10. Whenever he pitches for Washington, he will do so out of the bullpen, not in his usual capacity as a starter.

Young gets going

Dmitri Young reported to Viera on Saturday evening and has begun baseball activities, the next step toward his return from diabetes.

Bowden said after a month working with doctors to get his blood sugar levels stabilized, the organization is “very comfortable” that Young is in good health.

The 34-year-old still must work himself back into better physical and baseball shape, but the GM remains hopeful he will come off the DL before the season is over.

“We’re getting him into baseball shape right now. Full steam, that’s what we’re going to do,” Bowden said. “And I think you’re going to see him in September.”



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