WASHINGTON -- Nationals starter Ramon Ortiz wasn't shy about saying he didn't like the decision to skip his turn in the rotation Saturday when Washington's game against the Atlanta Braves was postponed because of rain.
Instead of pushing back Ortiz one day to appear Sunday night -- as the Braves did with their scheduled starter, right-hander John Thomson -- Nationals manager Frank Robinson will send Ortiz to the bullpen until his spot comes up again.
"I'm not happy about that. I know it's Frank's decision, but I'm not happy," Ortiz said. "I don't like that, because I'm not a rookie."
Ortiz has struggled early this season after joining the Nationals on a $2.5 million, one-year deal. He's 0-2 with a 7.31 ERA in three starts.
Robinson said those numbers weren't the reason he wanted to skip Ortiz. Instead, the manager said he was concerned about throwing off the routine of Tony Armas Jr., who's coming off right shoulder surgery.
Armas (1-2, 3.71 ERA) will make his scheduled start Sunday against Thomson (0-0, 1.23).
"I just felt like it's better for him to stay in his regular turn, and that way everybody else stays in their regular turn," Robinson said. "Ramon can go down to the bullpen and help us out there if needed until his turn comes up again."
That would be Thursday at the St. Louis Cardinals.
Asked how the wait between starts -- his last appearance was April 16 -- would affect him, Ortiz answered: "A lot. A lot. It won't affect my concentration in the game, but it's no good. ... It's unbelievable. Unbelievable, man."
The right-hander, 9-11 with a 5.36 ERA for the Reds last season, has started 170 of the 190 games in which he's appeared since breaking into the majors in 1999. All 20 of his relief outings came in 2004 for the Angels.
"I'd like to be able to use him" in relief up until two days before Ortiz's next start, pitching coach Randy St. Claire said. "I don't expect him to be happy about it. No starter's happy about being pushed back or skipped."
Thomson wasn't all that upset about pitching Sunday instead of Saturday: Now his start will be televised on ESPN -- "I like it," he said, "because my mom and dad can see it back home."
The extra day's rest -- he shut out San Diego on one hit over six innings April 16 in his last outing -- should make his arm feel better. Which, Thomson said, is not necessarily a good thing.
"It depends on how you look at it. Sometimes if you go out there and you feel really good and you overthrow, it could be a problem," he said. "Over the years for me, having the extra days like I do, I think I know I am probably going to feel stronger, so what I need to do is go out there and stay under control and not try and overthrow."
- Saturday's game will be made up Sept. 18 at 7:05 p.m. That was a scheduled off-day for both teams, right before the Nationals host the Braves for games on Sept. 19-20.
- Nationals LF Alfonso Soriano's three homers in Washington's 7-3 win Friday made him the first leadoff batter to go deep that many times in one game since the Cubs' Brant Brown did it June 18, 1998, against the Phillies.
- Braves SS Edgar Renteria (rib cage injury) wants to return to the lineup Sunday. "I'm debating whether to do that or not," manager Bobby Cox said.
- The Braves will keep their rotation lined up the same way, with everyone getting an extra day's rest.