- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2009

NEW YORK | When Luke Montz was summoned into Class AA Harrisburg manager John Stearns’ office after Tuesday night’s game, the young catcher figured he might be getting called up to Class AAA Syracuse.

When Stearns informed him he was being promoted - not to Syracuse but to the Washington Nationals - Montz broke out in a huge smile.

“To me, it’s a great feeling,” he said Wednesday afternoon inside the visiting clubhouse at Citi Field. “Of course you want to stay… but the feeling’s great. It’s great to be here and see the guys, even if it is for one game.”

Montz was optioned back to Harrisburg after Wednesday’s game. A strange confluence of events led to his brief stay. Veteran Josh Bard had to leave the team Tuesday night to go to Colorado and join his wife, who was due to have labor induced. And since starter Jesus Flores likely won’t be ready to come off the disabled list until Friday, the Nationals needed a backup catcher Wednesday night.

Montz’s numbers at Harrisburg (a .152 average in 21 games) certainly weren’t worthy of a promotion, but he was nearby and he was already on Washington’s 40-man roster. So he got the call.

The 25-year-old, who had a 10-game stint with the Nationals in September, was supposed to fly from Harrisburg to New York (through Philadelphia), but his flight got canceled, so he just hopped in his truck and made the 183-mile drive himself.

Flores, who is finishing a rehab appearance with Harrisburg after bruising his right shoulder, should rejoin the Nationals this weekend in Philadelphia. At that point, the club will have to decide whether to remove either of its backup veterans (Bard or Wil Nieves) from its roster or keep three catchers.

Regardless, the backup or backups won’t see much playing time.

“We need Flores back,” manager Manny Acta said. “We need our No. 1 guy out there. Because when he’s out there, whoever stays is just going to play once a week anyways. So that’s the guy we want back.”

MacDougal called up

The Nationals purchased the contract of reliever Mike MacDougal for this weekend’s series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

MacDougal, who signed a minor league deal May 3, exercised an “out” clause in his contract on Tuesday, but the club had 48 hours to decide to promote him to the majors and keep his services.

The right-hander had a 1.23 ERA and two saves in seven appearances with Syracuse.

A former All-Star closer with the Kansas City Royals, MacDougal was released by the Chicago White Sox last month after posting a 12.46 ERA in five games.

Extra bases

Ryan Zimmerman drew a walk in his first plate appearance Wednesday, but it was too late to extend his streak of consecutive games reaching base. It ended at 43 games Tuesday with an 0-for-4 night. …

Elijah Dukes continues to rehab his strained hamstring in Viera, Fla., but the outfielder is expected to join Harrisburg this weekend and could be back in Washington’s lineup by the start of next week.

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