ATLANTA -- The Nationals expanded their roster on Thursday by activating reliever Doug Slaten from the 15-day disabled list.
Slaten missed the last 77 games because of left elbow ulnar neuritis. Before the injury, Slaten, 31, was 0-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 23 games, but he had problems throwing breaking pitches.
Slaten rested the elbow, had treatment on it and began a throwing program. Once the elbow was healthy, Slaten had four rehab starts, posting a combined 1.74 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings for the Gulf Coast Nationals, Class A Hagerstown, Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.
Now that he is back in the fold, Slaten most likely will be a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.
"It's always good to be back," Slaten said. "As far as how long it took, I really didn't know how long it would take. I just go where I go."
Johnson: Pudge to be back next homestand
ATLANTA -- Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list during the next homestand, according to manager Davey Johnson. The skipper needs to talk to the trainers before such a move is made.
Rodriguez, who is on the DL because of a right oblique strain, is currently on a rehab assignment for Double-A Harrisburg. Entering Thursday's action, Rodriguez was a combined 1-for-5 for Harrisburg and Class A Potomac.
Once Rodriguez returns to action, there isn't a guarantee that he will behind the plate when right-hander Stephen Strasburg makes his season debut against the Dodgers on Tuesday. Rodriguez was behind the plate for Strasburg's rehab assignment on Thursday, but there is a good chance that Wilson Ramos will be behind the plate when Strasburg returns to the Majors.
"He is not in top playing condition," Johnson said about Rodriguez. "Pudge doesn't have to prove anything to me or anybody else in baseball. He is a quality player. Even if he is only 70 percent in playing shape, he would do one heck of a job out there."
Johnson looking for offensive improvement
ATLANTA -- With the Nationals in their final month of the season, manager Davey Johnson would like to see improvement on offense. Entering Thursday's action, the Nationals ranked 27th in offense and second in strikeouts among all big league clubs.
"Swing the bats better. We have showed signs of it, but I want us to stay aggressive, attack, go after guys," Johnson said. "I see signs of it. I have some young guys who are in their first full year in the big leagues, so I have patience on that.
"They should be feeling good enough now to start expressing their talent. I'm not talking about hitting home runs. I'm talking about hitting line drives, not striking out. We strike out too much."
Slowes, Carpenter on initial Frick ballot
ATLANTA -- Fans will be able to vote online for the ballot of the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award -- a prestigious honor given to broadcasters -- by logging on to http://www.facebook.com/baseballhall.
Voting on the Hall of Fame's Facebook site will conclude at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 30. Nationals broadcasters Charlie Slowes and Bob Carpenter are two of 75 candidates.
The top three fan selections will appear on the final 10-name ballot for the award, from which the winner is selected by a 20-member electorate. The winner will be announced at baseball's Winter Meetings in Dallas in December.
The Ford C. Frick Award has been presented annually since 1978 for excellence in baseball broadcasting, and is given to an active or retired broadcaster with a minimum of 10 years of continuous Major League broadcast service with a ballclub, network or a combination of the two.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.