- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008

DENVER | The reminders will be everywhere the next two weeks for Pete Orr. They will come via satellite TV, wireless Internet, cellular phone and Orr’s own organic sense of pride for the Canadian national baseball team.

They will evoke a variety of emotions, especially if sometime during the Summer Olympics Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta summons Orr to his office and tells him he will spend the rest of the games in Columbus, Ohio.

If that happens, Orr knows it’s because he hung on a major league roster just long enough to eliminate the possibility of playing in the last Olympic baseball tournament until at least 2016. It would be an unfortunate consequence for the 29-year-old infielder, who has scratched his way onto the Nationals’ roster the same way he did for the Atlanta Braves the last three years.

But the fact that Orr is doing what he wants to do means he has to accept everything that goes along with it.

“I thought ‘what if’ a lot,” Orr said. “But I think every baseball player’s ultimate goal is to be in the major leagues. That’s where I am. It wasn’t disappointing. It was something that just didn’t work out.”

The Richmond Hill, Ontario, native was selected to the team for the second time but couldn’t go because he was on the Nationals’ roster July 23.

He said he played with almost a dozen players on this year’s team in 2004 and traded text messages with several of them before the Canadian team’s plane left for Beijing on Tuesday.

He’s planning to receive updates from each game, whether he can find streaming broadcasts online, buy an extra Olympic package on television or get calls from his would-be teammates.

Orr, who has played 291 career major league games in four seasons entering Tuesday night, could return to Class AAA Columbus soon if the Nationals decide to add a seventh pitcher to their bullpen or if Aaron Boone’s rehab assignment for a strained calf muscle goes quickly.

That’s the worst possible twist for Orr, whom the Nationals have called up twice this season.

“Every day in the offseason, every day this whole year has been kind of a battle,” Orr said.

The consolation in the whole thing, though, is that none of it is under his control.

“If I am in Columbus, it’d be hard to watch,” Orr said. “But at the same time, it wasn’t like I can look back and say I wish I’d done something different. It was just the way it worked out.”

Bullpen could expand

Manager Manny Acta said before Tuesday’s game the Nationals will decide in the next several days whether to expand their bullpen back to seven relievers.

Washington has used a six-man bullpen since Aug. 1, when it optioned right-hander Garrett Mock to Columbus to make room for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio.

The Nationals’ next day off isn’t until Aug. 18, so they would call up a reliever if the bullpen is overworked in Colorado.

“It all depends on the next three days,” Acta said. “We weren’t very optimistic with six relievers.”

The Nationals had used a seven-man bullpen most of the season. Mock wouldn’t be eligible to be recalled until Aug. 11 unless the Nationals sustain an injury. Tyler Clippard, who has made spot starts on two occasions, also could be a candidate.

Shortstops still out

Neither Alberto Gonzalez nor Cristian Guzman was ready to play Tuesday, which meant Acta had to get a little creative with his lineup.

Utility infielder Willie Harris stared at short, the third position he has started at in the last four games.

Gonzalez, who strained a gluteal muscle in his left leg while sliding into third Monday, had a precautionary MRI on Tuesday. The results were negative, and he should return later this week.

Guzman, who has battled a left thumb injury, took batting practice Tuesday.

Acta also said left fielder Elijah Dukes has started taking batting practice and shagging fly balls, but the timetable for his return after bruising his right calf on a swing last week is unknown.

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