- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 9, 2008

MILWAUKEE | Right-hander Garrett Mock, whom the Washington Nationals called up Thursday to add depth to their bullpen, looks like he’ll take a break from that role in the next few days.

Manager Manny Acta said Friday that Mock will start for the Nationals on Monday in place of Odalis Perez, whose scheduled start was pushed back a day because of Wednesday’s rainout against the Rockies.

Mock was available out of the bullpen Friday and was scheduled to throw on the side Saturday if he didn’t pitch Friday.

”We didn’t want to have Odalis or [Jason Bergmann] throw on three days’ rest after they both had 100 pitches yesterday,” Acta said.

Both Perez and Bergmann earned victories in the Nationals’ doubleheader sweep of Colorado on Thursday. Perez will start Tuesday against the Mets, followed by Bergmann, Collin Balester, Tim Redding and John Lannan the rest of the week.

Mock has made two starts for the Nationals this year, both of them in June. He took a shutout into the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants on June 8 before tiring in triple-digit temperatures and giving up four runs. He also pitched six innings against the Texas Rangers on June 21, allowing four runs and striking out eight.

Acta said Redding, who suffered a right thigh bruise after a fly ball struck him during batting practice Thursday, will make his scheduled start Saturday. Redding wore a bandage above his right knee Friday.

Lo Duca signs with Marlins

Former Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the team last December but was released July 31, signed a minor league contract with the Florida Marlins on Friday. He will report to Class AAA Albuquerque in hopes of reaching the majors for the Marlins’ stretch drive.

The 36-year-old hit .230 in 46 games with the Nationals, his trade value diminished by a series of injuries and his reduced playing time after Jesus Flores established himself as the team’s everyday catcher. Lo Duca had become a utility player before his release, playing first base and left field, and questioned whether his lack of appearances as a catcher scared away potential trade partners.

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded him to the Marlins in 2004, and he reached the 2005 All-Star Game with them before signing with the New York Mets.

Bullpen in good shape

If Mock’s spot start leaves the Nationals’ relief corps short-handed for a day, at least it comes at the end of a week when the bullpen has had time to rest.

Washington’s relievers have worked just four innings in the past three games, the product of three straight quality starts by Lannan, Bergmann and Perez.

The team’s run — six wins in seven games — has allowed new closer Joel Hanrahan a chance to get used to the job without encountering a harrowing save situation.

He needed 21 pitches to earn two saves in Thursday’s doubleheader, coming in with a three-run lead in both games. He also entered with a three-run lead last Sunday, earning his first save in a 4-2 win over the Reds.

“There’s definitely a comfort zone having the three runs to work with,” Hanrahan said. “But it’s still early, so I’m guessing I’m not adjusted to it quite yet.”

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