- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 8, 2009

Trio of players still sidelined

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The flow of injured veterans returning to the Washington Nationals‘ lineup could start as early as Sunday with Austin Kearns hoping he’s fully recovered from a blister on his left hand. But for a pair of other injured players, the chance to get back on the field and earn a roster spot is still a few days away.

Dmitri Young’s lower back tightness is still preventing him from doing any on-field activities, while Wily Mo Pena hopes to return from a strained right shoulder by the middle of the week. At some point, however, their absences could start to be just as big a concern as their health.

All three players have something to prove this spring, whether it’s Kearns fighting a handful of corner outfielders for a starting spot, Pena trying to keep those same corner outfielders from bumping him off the roster and Young hoping to claw his way back onto the team after injuries and concerns about his diabetes got him removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason.

“The more games you miss, you have a lesser opportunity to make an impression on our coaching staff. That’s not a secret,” manager Manny Acta said. “I thought the opportunity was there when Adam [Dunn] went to the World Baseball Classic for us to get those guys more at-bats. But the fact is, because of their injuries, they haven’t been able to do that.”

In other roster news, Acta said the first round of cuts is coming early next week, with “10 players, give or take” probably being sent down to minor league camp.

NATIONALS 7, METS 5

Scott Olsen wasn’t exactly sharp in his three innings of work, struggling to locate his fastball and getting hit on pitches up in the zone. He gave up two runs on six hits in three innings but left with the lead.

Despite another rough afternoon from Washington’s bullpen, the Nationals won thanks to insurance runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Joel Guzman and Leonard Davis each hit a solo home run for the Nationals.

- Ben Goessling

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Jose Castillo [DOWN]

Strained left shoulder diving for a ball at third base; will miss several days

Anderson Hernandez [UP]

1-for-2 with walk, run, RBI; he continues to be the second-base favorite

Garrett Mock [DOWN]

Gave up two more runs (one earned) in two innings; spring ERA is now 7.20

QUOTABLE

“That’s the biggest upset since the U.S. beat Russia in 1980.”

- Nationals manager Manny Acta, marveling at his native Dominican Republic’s loss to the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic on Saturday

SUNDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Cloudy, 73 degrees

Viera: Mostly sunny, 80 degrees

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Sunday: vs. Mets in Viera, 1 p.m.

Monday: vs. Astros in Viera, 7 p.m.

Tuesday: vs. Mets in Viera, 1 p.m.


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