- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Joe Beimel tried to get in one more rehab appearance before coming off the disabled list. The weather, though, refused to cooperate, so the left-hander will have to take his chances returning from a left hip injury without much rehearsal time.

Beimel, on the 15-day DL since April 20, pitched one inning for Class A Potomac on Friday and was roughed up for five runs on seven hits. He was looking forward to making amends for that outing with another inning for Potomac on Sunday, but that game was washed out.

Plan B had Beimel pitching Monday for Class AA Harrisburg, but rain postponed that game, too. So the Nationals reverted to Plan C: Beimel threw 25 pitches in the bullpen at Nationals Park to a hitter standing in the box with a bat but not swinging.

“It was a tough decision we had to make, but you can’t control the weather,” manager Manny Acta said. “Life is about adjusting and improvising. We had to do what we had to do. … So today he had a very good bullpen session. We were there. We watched him. He feels good, and he’s going to join us in L.A.”

Beimel, who will be activated for Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, isn’t too worried about the lack of game action.

“If it was something that happened with my arm, I would need to pitch in a game,” he said. “But I’ve been throwing the whole time. I haven’t missed a considerable amount of time of throwing. And everything feels good. It’s like riding a bike. I’m back out there feeling comfortable, and that’s all that matters.”

Relievers bouncing back

The Nationals’ beleaguered bullpen has quietly enjoyed a nice bounce back over the last few days.

Since blowing its seventh save of the season Thursday against the Cardinals, the relief corps has tossed 6 1/3 strong innings, allowing just one harmless run on two hits.

“Anytime they go out there and get guys out and throw strikes, it’s encouraging,” Acta said. “Because that’s what we’re asking: Go after guys, be aggressive, let them hit you, let our defense work and don’t get in trouble walking guys. That’s what those guys did. It was very encouraging.”

The key to the renaissance has been Joel Hanrahan, who has retired all six batters he has faced since losing his closer’s job, including a 1-2-3 seventh inning Monday night when the Nationals were clinging to a three-run lead against the Houston Astros.

Extra bases

Reliever Steven Shell, who was designated for assignment by the Nationals on April 20, signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners and will report to Class AAA. Shell had the option to remain in the Washington organization after clearing waivers but elected to become a free agent. …

Washington Wizards swingman Caron Butler will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday’s game. It’s the second time Butler has performed the duty.

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