Nationals to give Lannan a shot

Nationals to give Lannan a shot

PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals left-hander John Lannan will be called up from the Minor Leagues and make his Major League debut against the Phillies on Thursday afternoon.

Lannan arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon and will stay at the team's hotel the rest of the day. He was scheduled to pitch against Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday, but the Nationals need a pitcher for Thursday because right-hander Jason Simontacchi is on the disabled list because of an elbow injury. Lannan said he will not be nervous during his first big league game.

"I feel really good about it. I kept working hard and that's what I've been doing all year. It paid off ," Lannan said by phone. "I'm excited. Being nervous is a different thing. If you are nervous, it means you are not sure what you are doing. This is something I've always dreamed of. I'm pretty sure that I'll have some adrenalin pumping. I'm ready to take on the challenge."

Lannan, 22, has done everything to earn the promotion to the big leagues. While pitching prospects Collin Balester, Glen Gibson and Colton Willems received all the preseason publicity, Lannan is clearly the organization's top prospect because of the season he is having. Lannan is a combined 12-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 122 2/3 innings. He did it while playing for Class A Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Columbus.

In his most recent outing, Lannan pitched seven innings and gave up two runs on seven hits against Triple-A Norfolk. He didn't walk a batter in the game.

"The kid has taken every challenge that we have thrown at him, so far. He has pitched well at every level. Our baseball people down there feel that he is ready to come up," manager Manny Acta said. "It's exciting. [He is] one of the guys that is going to be part of the future. You want to see what he can do. I know he is only 22 years old, but, according to everything we heard, and the way he has pitched this year, he is going to be part of the plan."

By bringing up Lannan, some members of Washington's pitching staff will be pushed back by a day in the rotation. Left-hander Mike Bacsik will pitch on Friday against the Mets. Right-hander Tim Redding and left-hander Bill Traber will pitch in the day/night doubleheader on Saturday and Jason Bergmann is scheduled to go on Sunday.

There still is a possibility that the Nationals will have to make changes this weekend because Bergmann has left hamstring tightness. He suffered the injury running the bases against the Phillies on Tuesday.

If Bergmann can't go, the Nationals will have another pitcher throw in the second game of the doubleheader and Traber will pitch Sunday. Right-hander Joel Hanrahan, who is in Columbus, is the leading candidate to pitch in the doubleheader if Bergmann can't go.

Bergmann said the injury didn't get any worse, but there is no guarantee that he will be ready to go on Sunday. He is expected to have a bullpen session on Thursday. If he can't go, Bergmann will try to have the session the next day.

"I'm walking around pretty good. I'm going to keep treating it and see how it responds," Bergmann said. "I'm going to do everything to make that start. It's a part of me, but if I can't make it, I'm not going to do too much to hurt myself further."

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