- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2008

PHILADELPHIA | For a team mired in last place, the Washington Nationals have few roster decisions to make this winter.

Aaron Boone and left-hander Odalis Perez are the only two pending free agents on the roster.

Neither fits into the club’s long-term plan, though Washington may consider re-signing either if the situation were right.

Also, the Nationals have only six players who will be eligible for arbitration: third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, infielder Pete Orr, outfielders Ryan Langerhans and Willie Harris and pitchers Tim Redding and Jesus Colome.

Zimmerman, entering his first season of arbitration, will return along with Harris, who has proved valuable as a utilityman this season. The Nationals likely will retain Redding to provide a veteran influence in the rotation. The others face uncertain futures and could be candidates to be nontendered during the winter.

Regardless, the Nationals have far less to sort out this offseason than most other major league teams. The Florida Marlins, for example, have 17 arbitration-eligible players.

“I’m not an expert on those subjects, but it has got to be better if you don’t have that many guys going to arbitration,” manager Manny Acta said. “Obviously you can take some of that money and maybe bring back a veteran guy like [Perez] or find somebody like him.”

Zimmerman still sick

Zimmerman, who’s still suffering the effects of a flu bug he caught from teammate Cristian Guzman, was out of the Nationals’ lineup for the third straight day Friday.

The third baseman, who could barely talk Thursday, said he felt much better Friday and might be available if the need arose.

Guzman, who missed three straight games with the same ailment, returned to the lineup Friday.

No hits for Bergmann

Collin Balester’s early exit Friday night opened the door for Jason Bergmann to get perhaps one last shot at the plate this season.

Bergmann, who was removed from the rotation two weeks ago and had not had a chance to hit since, led off the top of the third inning seeking his first base hit of the year.

He entered 0-for-39 with zero walks, among the most futile offensive seasons in major league history. Although Phillies starter Joe Blanton fell behind him 2-0, Bergmann grounded out meekly to second.

Thus, he in all likelihood will end the season 0-for-40 with 20 strikeouts and two sacrifice bunts. Only five players in big league history have finished a season with more at-bats and not hit safely. All of those players, though, drew at least one walk.

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