So much for a nice, easy stretch of right-handers to help the lineup get on track. Nationals manager Manny Acta told the Washington Post he plans on skipping Shawn Hill's turn in the rotation Wednesday.
Left-hander Matt Chico, who was moved to the bullpen since the Phillies faced him opening day, is likely to replace Hill, who’s experiencing lingering elbow soreness. The prospect of facing the Phillies’ left-handed thunder probably made the decision an easy one for Acta, whose club avoided a three-game sweep with a 2-1 win in Baltimore yesterday. Chico is a nobody, so it’s more annoying than anything, especially for someone like Geoff Jenkins, who needs to get on track. Also on the injury front, Nats right fielder Austin Kearns is considered day-to-day with elbow soreness.
Minor transactions: Perhaps the thinnest position in the chain, first base has been overhauled at the Double-A level, where 28-year-old Mike Eylward, who was signed out of the Mexican League in April, replaces Juan Tejeda, who has been released. Eylward spent most the last two seasons in Triple-A Salt Lake (Angels) where he hit for high average (.313 in ’06; .305 in ’07), but marginal power. In eight minor league seasons, he’s a .289/.358/.435 hitter with 68 home runs. Tejeda, 26, hit .248 with 10 homers last season for the R-Phils, but was hitting just .211 this season and was “erratic” at first, as Reading beat writer Mike Drago reports.
The R-Phils have been without a true first baseman since Ryan Howard, basically, and the highest-rated 1B in the system is Lakewood’s Michael Durant, 21, who has an .856 OPS and 9 home runs, but also 56 punch outs and is not rated among the top 30 prospects in the system, according to Baseball America. The situation is dire enough to give pause to Ryan Howard’s staunchest critics, who'd like to see the slumping slugger shipped out of town.
Tale of two pinch hitters: Greg Dobbs is hitting .450 (9-20), 2B, HR, 8 RBI as a pinch-hitter. Meanwhile, So Taguchi is off to a 0-and-7 start as a PH. Both players represented two of the finest pinch hitters in baseball last season.
Good opportunity for Myers: Obviously a big start for Brett Myers tonight. The team needs Brett to eat some innings, but it’s also a good opportunity to get on track, away from home, against a weak Nats lineup, one that’s barely managing four runs a game and averaging .235/.315/.353, the second-worst production outside of San Diego.