Notes: Robinson awaits suspension
Reliever Rodriguez will likely sit for three games
HOUSTON -- Nationals manager Frank Robinson said that he and reliever Felix Rodriguez face automatic suspensions after both were ejected by crew chief Rick Reed on Thursday against the Mets.
Warnings were already given out when, in the bottom of the eighth inning with Jose Reyes on third base, Rodriguez hit Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca with a 1-0 offering. Reed then ejected both Rodriguez and Robinson, with Robinson arguing with Reed for several minutes.
Robinson maintains that Rodriguez didn't purposely try to hit LoDuca. In the game, Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen and first baseman Nick Johnson were hit by pitches, but neither Mets starter Pedro Martinez, who hit Guillen twice and Johnson once, nor reliever Duaner Sanchez, who plunked Johnson, were ejected from the game.
Robinson will likely serve a one-game suspension, while Rodriguez could serve three games. Those were the rules that were put in placed by Robinson, himself, when he was Major League Baseball's vice president of rules and on-field operations. Robinson has already spoke to Bob Watson, the current vice president of rules and on-field operations, about the incident. Watson is expected to be at Minute Maid Park sometime this weekend to talk to Robinson even further about the incident.
"A relief pitcher -- if you get three games, that's pretty severe," said Robinson, who may serve the suspension on Monday, when his team plays the Astros.
Rodriguez didn't know about the impending suspension until local reporters told him before Friday's game.
"I'm surprised. When you have a runner on third base, you try to pitch in," Rodriguez said.
It's still unknown whether or not outfielder Jose Guillen will face a suspension. After being hit by a Martinez pitch for the second time in the game, Guillen pointed his bat at Martinez, and both benches and bullpens emptied. No punches were thrown, and home plate umpire Ted Barrett issued warnings to both teams.
The bad blood between Guillen and Martinez goes back to last season, and they are expected to face each other again on Wednesday night.
"I don't like to look at the future and predict. I just go by the situation. I don't know what Guillen will do or the other guy will do," Robinson said.
Guillen didn't want to talk about his next meeting against Martinez. But asked if he thought the incident between Washington and Martinez was over, Rodriguez said, "We'll try to play a clean game. The problem in baseball is, you never know."
Getting ready: Right-hander Ryan Drese returned to the Nationals on Friday and is expected to start against the Astros and be activated from the disabled list two days later. Drese will not be on a strict pitch count, but he will be monitored by the always cautious Robinson.
Drese, who had shoulder surgery last September, spent the offseason doing a lot of weight training and throwing. When he reported to Spring Training, the Nationals purposely started him slowly, and he didn't throw his first Minor League game until late March.
"It's definitely a good feeling to be back. I worked hard this offseaosn and Spring Training to get back to where I am. Now I have to keep building on it, and the arm keeps getting stronger and stronger," Drese said.
With Drese getting ready to be activated, somebody on the Nationals' 25-man roster will have to be sent down to the Minors, and reliever Jason Bergmann is the likely candidate. He was placed on the Opening Day roster because Pedro Astacio was put on the DL last Saturday.
"If they send me down, it's a roster decision. Drese is a starter, and they need a starter. It's up to the Nationals front office," said an understanding Bergmann.
Learning from the master: Some of the Nationals position players took early batting practice on Friday, with Robinson watching closely. However, he said he was most concerned about outfielder Brandon Watson and catcher Brian Schneider.
Entering Friday's action, Schneider was hitless in 11 at-bats, while Watson was 1-for-12. Robinson said both players are using their bodies too much. He wants them to stay back and use their hands.
Being honored: St. Pius X High School in Houston retired Gary Majewski's number on Friday. The right-hander graduated from the school in 1998 and was the Houston Player of the Year that season, going 14-3 with a 1.64 ERA.
Stat of the day: Entering Friday's action, Robinson has a 42-44 record against the Astros as a manager.
Did you know? Livan Hernandez in the only non-Astro to win his first four starts at Minute Maid Park.
Coming up: The Nationals return to Minute Maid Park on Saturday evening to play the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Right-hander Hernandez will get the start for Washington, while right-hander Roy Oswalt will get the nod for Houston.
Hernandez will face the Astros for the 13th time in his career. He is 7-4 with a 3.64 ERA against them and 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA at Minute Maid Park. In his last start, Hernandez ended up pitching six innings and giving up three runs on eight hits against the Mets. He gave up an RBI single to Paul Lo Duca in the third inning, an RBI double to Xavier Nady an inning later and a home run to David Wright in the seventh.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.