Simontacchi, Logan likely to go on DL
Pitcher, center fielder expected to miss early part of season
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Both right-hander Jason Simontacchi and center fielder Nook Logan are expected to miss the start of the season because of right groin injuries.
Simontacchi said on Sunday morning that he expects to be out two to three weeks. He will remain in Minor League camp and rehab in Florida. He most likely will pitch a couple of games for Triple-A Columbus before rejoining the Major League club.
Simontacchi said he tried to throw on Friday, but he still felt pain in the groin. He suffered the injury on his last pitch against the Cardinals on March 14, and has missed his last two starts because of it.
The injury proved a disappointing setback for a player who had made the rotation. Simontacchi showed before the injury that his shoulder, which had been bothering him for more than two years, was 100 percent.
"We tried to move forward," Simontacchi said. "I started throwing and it didn't feel too good, so we just shut it down. Obviously, we didn't want to move backwards. We figured the best-case scenario would be just to stay in Florida. The doctor came in and said the best thing to do would be to keep it real light. It could be two to three weeks."
Since Simontacchi signed a Minor League deal, he could be placed on the seven-day disabled list or placed on the Triple-A roster.
"We can add him whenever he is ready to pitch," general manager Jim Bowden said. "If that's Game 5, Game 10 or Game 15, we don't know yet."
With Simontacchi out of action, Jerome Williams will be in the rotation. After a slow start this spring, Williams has gone nine innings without giving up an earned run.
"I think it's safe to say that Jerome Williams has made the rotation right now," manager Manny Acta said. "The thing is, at the end of Spring Training, so many things happen. I really don't want to be giving you guys information and then we have a three-player deal, and then we are not going to look right."
The Simontacchi injury also means that the Nationals are looking for a fifth starter. Jason Bergmann and Levale Speigner are the leading candidates to take the job. Bergman, who is scheduled to pitch on Monday against the Tigers, has given up six runs in 11 innings; opponents are hitting .311 against him.
Speigner, a Rule 5 Draft pick, has been outstanding this spring. He hasn't given up a run in 11 2/3 innings. There is a debate on which role he is better suited for. Bowden likes him strictly as a setup man, while Acta likes him as a swing man.
"Bergmann has started more than Speigner," Bowden said. "But, still, we are going to make the best decision for the Nationals at the end of the day."
Logan said his right groin is much better and doesn't need an MRI. This comes a day after he strained it running the bases against the Cardinals. However, Acta indicated that Logan will most likely start the season on the disabled list.
"It wasn't as bad as we thought," Acta said. "He was moving around OK when he came in this morning, but it's going to be two weeks."
While the skipper has said Ryan Church will be the guy to play center field, the Nationals are bringing in Rogearvin Bernadina for a look. Some in the organization believe that Bernadina, 22, is Logan's equal in center, but, like Logan, he has had problems hitting the baseball.
Bernadina, a left-handed hitter, had a .270 batting average for Class A Potomac last year, and he strikes out often. However, he has been great this spring swinging the bat in Minor League camp.
"We want to look at him," Bowden said. "He has had a great spring. He swung the bat well. This guy can really go get the ball in center field."
Bowden also didn't rule out making a trade to get a center fielder.
"We are going to do the best job we can," Bowden said. "We are going to have the best 25 men on Opening Day. There could be a trade between now and Opening Day, of which we have to have other things in place. So we are going to be flexible. We are going to be Tom Brady at the line of scrimmage between now and Opening Day."
The injury to Logan most likely means that Kory Casto will make the team as a backup outfielder. The team likes the way Casto has delivered off the bench in clutch situations. Before Sunday, Acta had said that Casto would play every day either in the Major or Minor Leagues and was not being considered for a bench role.
Before the Logan injury, it was considered likely that Casto, who has options remaining, would be sent down. Both Church and Snelling are out of options, and it was doubtful they would have been placed on waivers to make room for Casto.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.