- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2009

When Garrett Mock left the Washington Nationals for Class AAA Syracuse in May, he was a struggling reliever who went back to the starting rotation primarily to catch up on innings he had missed while working sparingly in relief.

Mock has become something of a “tweener” for the Nationals in the past 15 months, making a handful of spot starts last season before resurfacing in the bullpen and starting this year in relief. He even had been mentioned by acting general manager Mike Rizzo as a possible future closer. Mock, though, returned to the Nationals on Thursday not as a reliever but as perhaps the hottest starting prospect in the organization.

After a dominant stretch as a starter for the Chiefs, Mock was recalled to the majors to take the spot in the rotation vacated by Ross Detwiler.

He went 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA as a starter at Syracuse, with his four-pitch arsenal getting more effective as he learned to be more aggressive. Now he has a chance to make his stay in the District - his seventh trip to Nationals Park, by his estimation, counting a couple of exhibition games - a longer one.

“I’ve come up here and done well; I’ve come up here and not performed like I want to,” Mock said. “Failure’s a great teacher. For this time, I think the only difference is I’m a little more comfortable in my own skin, trusting what I have and just letting it go.”

Rizzo said former pitching coach Randy St. Claire liked Mock as a reliever, so the Nationals tried Mock in that role. But St. Claire was fired less than two weeks after Mock was sent to Syracuse to be a starter, and the Nationals proceeded with the path Rizzo said the front office felt was best for Mock all along.

“All of us in the front office felt his niche was as a starter,” Rizzo said. “He’s pitched remarkably. He was the logical guy.”

Olsen scratched

Left-hander Scott Olsen was scratched from Friday’s start with tightness in his left latissimus dorsi muscle. Right-hander Craig Stammen, who was scheduled to pitch Monday, will be moved up to take Olsen’s place.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman said Olsen reported soreness during the team’s workout Wednesday. His start will be bumped back to Monday provided the injury isn’t more serious.

Olsen missed five weeks earlier this season with left shoulder tendinitis and had the same issue last season with the Marlins. His velocity has improved since he returned from the disabled list on June 29, and he has a 3.74 ERA in three starts since.

Corrales back on bench

Pat Corrales is back in his familiar No. 39.

Corrales, along with four other assistant coaches, was told he wouldn’t be brought back after the 2008 season. He was given a job as a special consultant, traveling for seven to 10 days at a time to the team’s minor league affiliates to work with players and evaluate talent.

Corrales was enjoying his new role working with minor leaguers but never gave up on the idea he would be back on a major league staff. That changed when manager Manny Acta was fired and the Nationals needed a new bench coach.

“He and I are good friends,” Corrales said. “We know - he knows - that this is part of the game we have chosen. It’s going to have its bitterness, and it’s going to have its sweetness.

“He’s going to get a job somewhere. He’s a good baseball man.”

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