Notes: Bergmann encouraged to relax
Pitching coach St. Claire says righty's not trusting his stuff
WASHINGTON -- A day after having a less than stellar outing on Thursday against the Diamondbacks, Nationals right-hander Jason Bergmann had a conversation with general manager Jim Bowden behind the batting cage, with Bowden doing most of the talking.
According to Bergmann, Bowden made it known that he didn't like that fact that the righty walked six batters in 3 2/3 innings in the 4-3 loss.
"He just expressed his disapproval. Six walks, that the biggest thing," Bergmann said. "Obviously, it's something I'm not proud of. I agreed with everything he said."
Pitching coach Randy St. Claire said that Bergmann is trying too hard and not trusting his stuff.
"The harder you try, the worst it gets," St. Claire said. "He has to back off and relax. His stuff is plenty good enough. There is no doubt in my mind. He has to relax and trust himself."
With the off-day on Monday, manager Manny Acta decided to make Bergmann the fifth starter in the rotation and right-hander Jerome Williams, who went on Friday, will pitch in the No. 4 spot. Williams will throw against the Braves on Wednesday on five days rest, while Bergmann will pitch on six days rest and face the Braves the following day.
The move is not a reflection of how Bergmann pitched against Arizona. The team has always considered him a fifth starter, but the Spring Training schedule dictated that Williams and Bergmann pitch on certain days.
Injury report: Outfielder Alex Escobar continues to have problems with his right shoulder and has halted his throwing program for now. Escobar hurt the shoulder last August against the Braves.
While his elbow is getting stronger, right-hander Luis Ayala is now experiencing neck problems he suffered toward the end of Spring Training.
"He woke up one day and it was still bothering him," Bowden said. "It's taken him a while to get that [problem solved]."
There is no timetable as to when Ayala will return to the Nationals.
Minor League news: Infielder Bernie Castro was placed on the inactive/suspended list this week for violating the Minor League drug policy in 2005. Castro was with Triple-A Ottawa, then an Orioles affiliate. According to Bowden, Castro didn't serve the 15-game suspension until now because he was signed to a Major League contract with the Nationals after the '05 season. But once he was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus, Castro was allowed to serve his suspension under the Minor League policy.
In need of pitching depth, the Nationals have decided to put reliever Emiliano Fruto in Triple-A Columbus' starting rotation because he has three pitches in his repertoire. The last time Fruto started was during his first two years of professional baseball in 2001 and '02.
"We are short on starting pitching," Bowden said. "We know he can go back to the bullpen, but in the meantime, we need to keep developing young starting pitchers."
Stats of the day: Entering Friday's action, Ryan Church has 15 RBIs in his last 24 contests, dating back to the 2006 season.
Did you know? Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman were the only members of the Nationals to have a hit in the first four games. They were both 6-for 17 (.353) entering Friday's game with Diamondbacks.
Coming up: The Nationals play the third of a four-game series on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET against the Diamondbacks at RFK Stadium. Washington right-hander John Patterson will face Arizona right-hander Brandon Webb.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.