- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2009

After hemming and hawing over the configuration of their starting rotation for their upcoming series with the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals decided to leave it the way they originally planned it.

Garrett Mock is slated to start Tuesday’s game against the Cubs, followed by J.D. Martin on Wednesday and John Lannan on Thursday. The Nationals had toyed with the idea of moving Lannan, who threw just 43 pitches Saturday, but interim manager Jim Riggleman said they backed away from that idea.

“We’re not going to do that,” Riggleman said. “We were thinking about getting him out of that routine he was in, shaking it up a little bit, maybe even giving him three days’ rest or five or six days’ rest.”

Even if the Nationals aren’t moving Lannan’s start, that they were thinking about it shows how concerned they are about their ace-in-training, who has given up 16 runs in his past 12 innings. Nine of his 10 games from June 6 to July 26 were quality starts, but Lannan has just one since. His ERA has shot from 3.25 to 4.03 in his past five starts, and his 1 2/3-inning start Saturday was the shortest of his career.

He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, so the Nationals explored the idea of bumping up his start because he was already slated for some activity that day. They also could have moved him further back in the rotation if they had a reliever available to make a spot start.

“If [pitching on Thursday] wasn’t needed - if we had somebody else available to go on his day - we could back him off a day or two and let [pitching coach] Steve McCatty get a little extra work with him,” Riggleman said. “But that’s kind of overthinking it a little bit. I think John will be fine, and he’ll be ready to go on his normal day.”

Burnett still out

Reliever Sean Burnett, who took a drive off the end of his left thumb during Sunday’s win over the Brewers, was only available in an emergency role for Monday’s game, Riggleman said.

Burnett had an X-ray on the thumb after Sunday’s game, which came back negative, but Riggleman said the Nationals wanted to give Burnett a day to throw the ball around and test his thumb before bringing him back.

“Hopefully [Tuesday] he can [pitch],” Riggleman said. “The whole thumb area’s a little sore. It’s just kind of hard to grip the ball there. It would be a real emergency if we would use him, but hopefully we can get him in there [Tuesday].”

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