Notes: Eischen to miss rest of season

Notes: Eischen to miss rest of season

PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals have placed left-hander Joey Eischen on the 60-day disabled list with a muscle tear in his torn left rotator cuff, and the lefty will miss the rest of the season.

Eischen said he will have surgery on Thursday and the procedure will be performed by Dr. Ben Schaffer, the team's orthopedist.

It marks the third consecutive season in which Eischen has been on the DL. Eischen had been bothered by shoulder soreness since Spring Training. In fact, he didn't play his first exhibition game until late March. During the regular season, Eischen acknowledged that he has soreness, but felt that he could play through the problem.

Eischen pitched in 22 games, giving up 18 runs and issuing 18 walks in 14 2/3 innings. He made his last appearance on Monday against the Phillies and walked left-handed hitters Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu before being taken out of the game.

It was that game in which that Eischen knew that something was not right. He also realized that his velocity was going downhill.

"It didn't make any sense that I couldn't throw strikes. I realized that I was hurting the team," Eischen said in a telephone interview.

Manager Frank Robinson believes the Eischen's shoulder injury is the reason the left-hander was ineffective.

"I figure something like this would take at least a year to a year and a half to come back," Robinson said Wednesday. "I knew it was hurting him pretty good. He has had this since Spring Training. He didn't have to tell me.

"I would tell him to take it easy. Make sure you will go through all the steps and that he's completely healed. If he was able to come back in September, I would suggest to him not to come back this year."

Robinson said there was nothing the team could have done as far as shutting Eischen down earlier in the season.

"That goes to show you what kind of heart this guy has and the warrior that he is," the skipper said. "He goes out there, takes the ball and pitches."

Eischen is a free agent after the season and said he would love to return to Nationals for less money with incentives.

[General manager] Jim Bowden has been good to me," said Eischen, who will rehab in Washington, D.C. "He asked me to return to the team [this season] and be in the locker room with my teammates."

To replace Eischen on the roster, the Nationals are expected to purchase the contract of left-hander Bill Bray from Triple-A New Orleans on Friday. Bray is a player some members of the organization wanted to bring up the last few weeks because of Eischen's ineffectiveness. But the promotion was delayed because current team president Tony Tavares wanted to stick with veteran players.

Bray, who was the organization's first-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, was 4-1 with a 3.98 ERA for New Orleans. He struck out 45 in 31 2/3 innings.

Bray's promotion means that the organization's last three first-round picks are in the big leagues. Closer Chad Cordero was the first-round pick in 2003, and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was selected in the opening round of last year's First-Year Player Draft.

Bray more than likely will be a setup man out of the bullpen.

Injury report: Robinson said after Thursday's game that Jose Vidro's right knee was "barking at him." It 's the same knee that has bothered him for past three years. It was surgically repaired in 2004.

Vidro denied there was a problem, but he was limping to first base as he went 0-for-5 in Wednesday's game against the Phillies to drop his batting average from .328 to .319. On May 23, Vidro was at .350, but he has been in a 4-for-28 (.143) slump since then.

"My knee is fine. I'm just struggling right now [at the plate], and I'm not able to put the ball on the good part of the bat," Vidro said. "[Thursday] is a day off and I will be back on Friday with no problems. It's just a hitter's slump. It's ups and downs, and you have to fight through it."

Reliever Santiago Ramirez had an MRI on his sore right elbow, and it revealed that he has a flexor strain. He is listed as day-to-day. Robinson is hoping that Ramirez can pitch during the three-game series against the Brewers.

More on Vidro: Vidro said he heard about the possibility of being dealt before the trade deadline. He said he wants to stay in Washington, be part of the Lerner group's plans and play in the new stadium in 2008, which is the last year of Vidro's four-year contract.

"I understand this is a business. If it happens, it happens," he said. "Until that day, I'm wearing this uniform. I'm going to be the best player I can be for my ballclub. If they trade me because they want to get good players for me, that's great. The team that wants me, they want me there for a reason. That's good, too."

If he's traded, however, Vidro said he wouldn't mind being traded to the Mets because of his respect for general manager Omar Minaya. It was Minaya, then the Expos' GM, who convinced Vidro to sign an extension in 2004. A baseball source said the Mets would love to have Vidro, but Minaya will not give up top prospects for him.

"He is very honest and has been very respectful to me, and I appreciate that," Vidro said. "If I have a chance to be traded to the Mets, it would be great because I want to play for Omar."

On the bench: Since he was activated from the disabled list on May 13, Robert Fick has received only five at-bats. Robinson acknowledged that it's tough to get Fick playing time. Fick can catch, play first base and right field, but Brian Schneider will catch most of the games, Nick Johnson is the everyday first baseman and, with Jose Guillen on the disabled list, Robinson is relying on Mike Vento, Daryle Ward and Marlon Anderson to play right field.

"When regular guys don't play every day, there are other guys who have been waiting and I have to try to get them some at-bats," Robinson said.

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Coming up: After Wednesday's game, the Nationals travel to Milwaukee to begin a three-game series against the Brewers on Friday night at Miller Park. Last season, Washington and Milwaukee split the eight-game series, with the Nationals taking three of four in Washington and the Brewers winning three of four in Milwaukee.

On Friday at 8:05 p.m. ET, right-hander Ramon Ortiz will get the start for Washington, while left-hander Dana Eveland gets the nod for Milwaukee.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.