- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2008

The Washington Nationals‘ September call-ups should look pretty familiar to fans who have been paying close attention to this team.

Four of Washington’s six roster additions previously have played for the club: Kory Casto, Alberto Gonzalez and Roger Bernadina (who all were up earlier this season) and pitcher Levale Speigner (who spent three months with the Nationals in 2007).

Only pitchers Mike Hinckley and Shairon Martis will be making their big league debuts when they have their contracts purchased from Class AAA Columbus on Monday when rosters are allowed to expand to 40.

Each of the three pitchers has an interesting story that brought him to the District for the final month of the season.

Hinckley, 25, was once considered the organization’s top pitching prospect and was given an outside shot of making the Opening Day rotation in 2005. But the left-hander was overmatched during his first big league spring training and battled injuries and inconsistencies the next three years. He finally resurfaced this season as a reliever at Columbus, posting a 3.16 ERA and earning his first major league promotion.

Martis, 21, has been highly thought-of within the organization since his acquisition from the Giants for veteran reliever Mike Stanton in 2006. The right-hander already has made a name for himself on the international stage, pitching a no-hitter for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic and returning to play for his native country in this summer’s Olympics. Though he started at both Class AA and Class AAA this year, he will be looked at as a reliever in Washington.

Speigner, 27, looked lost last season as the Nationals’ other Rule 5 pick alongside catcher Jesus Flores. The right-hander was roughed up by big league hitters and posted an 8.78 ERA in 19 games but has resurfaced this year with a 4-0 record and 1.82 ERA at Columbus.

The addition of those three arms to the bullpen will allow the Nationals not to push young starters John Lannan and Collin Balester too much down the stretch.

“We’re going to have a little bit of a short leash on some of those younger guys,” manager Manny Acta said. “That will give us a chance to see the guys coming in … and put guys in situations to see if they can handle it.”

A pair of surprises

Garrett Mock always figured his first big league win would result from a six- or seven-inning start, not a one-inning relief appearance.

So when the moment came Sunday and Mock earned career victory No. 1 thanks to a scoreless eighth inning against the Braves, it kind of caught the young right-hander off guard.

“I never really imagined getting a win this way,” he said.

Still, Mock (who earned his first win one day after teammate Steven Shell earned his) has proved quite adept at pitching in relief for the first time. After going 0-3 as a starter, he has posted a 3.00 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen.

“I’m very glad to have the opportunity just to play here,” he said. “Throwing out of the bullpen, I’m getting a little more used to it.”

Sunday’s victory was all the more meaningful for Mock because his parents were in attendance at Nationals Park. They had seen him pitch professionally only once before, in the minors in 2004, and surprised him by flying in from Houston over the weekend.

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