Plans for Strasburg; Garcia to be called up by Nats; Bourn mum on free agency

NEW YORK — The Nationals are expected to have right-hander Stephen Strasburg miss two or three regular-season starts, according to a baseball source.

Strasburg, who is on an innings limit after having Tommy John surgery in late 2010, more than likely will pitch no more than 180 innings this season. There was talk of Strasburg pitching 160 innings this year, but the source said those amount of innings are not set in stone.

The same source went so far as to say Strasburg will not pitch in the postseason once he is shut down.

Strasburg, who is expected to pitch against the Giants on Wednesday, is the ace of the Nationals’ pitching staff, going 13-5 with a 2.90 ERA and is tied for National League lead in strikeouts with 166. He also has a 2.12 ERA during day games, which is third in the National League. He already has pitched 133 1/3 innings.

If Strasburg doesn’t pitch in the postseason, the Nationals could go with four starters in a short series. That fifth starter could work out of the bullpen.

Garcia to be called up soon
NEW YORK — The Nationals are expected to call up reliever Christian Garcia to the big leagues during September call ups, according to a baseball source.

Garcia, a former Yankees prospect, is a combined 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA and 16 saves in 38 games for Double A Harrisburg and Triple A Syracuse.

“He deserves to be the big leagues,” the source said. “He would be a big help to the bullpen.”

Nats looking for a center fielder
NEW YORK — Once the offseason starts, the Nationals are expected to look for a center fielder/leadoff hitter, and Braves outfielder Michael Bourn is person who is always mentioned as a possible target for Washington. He is a free agent after this season and represented by agent Scott Boras.

Asked on Sunday if he thought about playing for the Nationals one day, Bourn said, “Not really. As far as the free agency goes, I just wait until the end of the season and we’ll see what happens. I know my name has come up on different occasions with different teams. But, right now, I play with the Atlanta Braves and I enjoy where I’m at right now. I’m having fun. I’m on a good team, thankfully. It’s a blessing to be over here, I’m just going to ride all this all out for right now and see what happens at the end of the season.”

The Nationals are currently using Bryce Harper, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth in center field. Werth is normally a right fielder, while most believe Harper and Bernadina are corner outfielders.

— Bill Ladson


If the Nationals acquire a center fielder in the off-season, then Werth moves to right field, and Harper/Bernadina are left to play left field. Does this mean Morse is going back to 1st base and the Nats don’t plan to pick up Adam LaRoche’s contract option?

That’s a great question. That would be the case.

It would be crazy to not sign LaRoche. He leads the team in HR’s and RBI’s. He is also a leader on the team.

I agree. Also the option price to acquire his services for one more year is reasonable.

I’d pass and use the money to extend guys like Morse and JZ, and offer to pick up LaRoche’s option. As-is you have Bernadina and Moore as back-ups in the OF, plus several promising guys in the minors.

That’s right. Guys like Corey Brown, who looks as if he can hit Major League pitching already, but the Nats are having a hard time finding room for him on the big club. The Nats also already have options at the lead-off position.

Bill — Don’t discount the possibility of giving Brian Goodwin a shot.

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