Atilano relieved after long road to Majors
Right-hander impressive in big league debut on Friday
WASHINGTON -- A day after making his Major League debut and winning his first game, right-hander Luis Atilano reflected on his struggles after the Braves traded him to the Nationals on Aug. 31, 2006.
He was recovering from right elbow reconstruction at the time and acknowledged that he was angry at the time of the trade. It took Atilano a year and half to recover from surgery, and to Atilano, that was too long. At the same time, he felt that if he stayed healthy, he would get to the big leagues quicker as a member of the Nationals. It finally happened on Friday.
"I was kind of mad at the situation, but then -- after going through rehab and all that -- it was better for me," Atilano said. "I felt I could get a chance [with the Nationals]. I just felt I could make it to the big leagues quicker. Finally, I did it. I'm happy that I did it. I always knew I could make it. That's why I was working hard."
After Friday's game, Atilano went out to dinner with his wife, Ayeshaah, and some of their friends. He said he acted normal with his company, but Ayeshaah is still in disbelief that he is in the big leagues.
"She can't believe it," Atilano said. "She feels like she is in the middle of nowhere. She is fine now. She will get used to it."
Atilano is expected to pitch against the Cubs on Wednesday.
Zimmerman's hamstring starting to feel better
WASHINGTON -- Manager Jim Riggleman said it's doubtful that Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will play Sunday after tweaking his right hamstring Wednesday against the Rockies.
The slugger has now missed three straight games because of the injury. Zimmerman said he is feeling better, but the key is running the bases, which he hasn't done. However, Zimmerman was able to take batting practice in the cage for the second consecutive day. He took hard swings and didn't have any problems with his right leg.
Zimmerman said he and the team will be cautious in terms of when he will be able to play in a game. Riggleman said Zimmerman is available to pinch-hit, but if he hits a groundball or gets a bloop hit, they realize he cannot run hard around the bases.
Bruney coming around after sluggish start
WASHINGTON -- After getting off to a slow start, right-hander Brian Bruney hasn't allowed an earned run in his last four appearances. A productive Bruney means that right-hander Tyler Clippard doesn't have to pitch in the seventh and eighth innings. Manager Jim Riggleman would like to have Bruney pitch in one of those situations.
Although he has pitched well of late, Bruney said all of his pitches aren't working except for his fastball and he acknowledged that can't go on for long.
"My cutter is not where I want it to be. I feel like I have to go out there with one pitch," Bruney said. "My first few outings, I got into a little overthrowing, trying to do a little too much. When you do that, your mechanics go, your breaking ball is gone. Against Colorado, I finally felt like I threw my first good cutter of the year. So we are going to try to build off that."
Pudge may play on Sunday for Nats
WASHINGTON -- Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez said on Saturday that he is still experiencing tightness in his back. However, he is hoping to play Sunday afternoon against the Dodgers.
Rodriguez started Friday's game and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout before leaving after six innings. He was replaced by Wil Nieves. Rodriguez initially told the team trainers about the problem earlier in the game.
Manager Jim Riggleman noticed Rodriguez was struggling while running to first base after the catcher hit into a double play to end the sixth.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.