Notes: Day likely to stay in bullpen

Notes: Day likely to stay in bullpen

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Right-hander Zach Day most likely will stay in the bullpen after right-hander Tony Armas Jr. gets off the disabled list. Day has struggled in his two starts, giving up 10 runs in 10 innings.

Day was recently demoted to the fifth spot in the rotation and will start against the Braves on April 20. Day said he understood the demotion and realizes that right-hander John Patterson is having a better season thus far.

"As long as the team is winning, I'm just going to try to help them out," Day said.

Both manager Frank Robinson and pitching coach Randy St. Claire feel that Day's sinker would work best out of the bullpen. Day, who prefers to start, said he would have to make adjustments coming out of the bullpen.

"It's going to be a different feeling when I get that first call out of bullpen," Day said. "When you work out of the bullpen, you get more of an adrenaline rush. You get the heartbeat working a little bit more. You have to learn how to channel it and use it to your advantage."

St. Claire said he has tried everything to help Day find consistency as a starter, from extending his bullpen sessions to having him throw more warmup pitches before the sessions to having simulated games.

"His side and warmup sessions are very good, but when he gets into a game, there's that inconsistency," St. Claire said. "With him being in the bullpen, for a little bit anyway, we don't want him to think about anything. When you are in the bullpen, you don't know you are going to pitch."

St. Claire said that the key for Day is to get out of the first two innings without giving up runs. In his last start against the Braves, Day gave up two runs in the first inning.

On the mound: Armas pitched his first rehab game on Friday and allowed two runs in 3 1/3 inning innings. St. Claire said that Armas pitched well, but got tired in the fourth inning.

"He threw 54 pitches and most of his pitches looked good. He had no problems, no soreness," St. Claire said.

Armas, who is on the DL because of a right groin strain, will pitch on Wednesday against Triple-A Memphis. He is expected to have one more start and then be activated shortly thereafter.

The afterglow of Opening Day: A day after they played their first regular season game in Washington, D.C., several of the Nationals went to the basketball game between the Wizards and Cavaliers.

Right-hander Livan Hernandez received a thunderous applause after his face was shown on the big screen. Hernandez is a huge basketball fan and is a season ticket holder at Miami Heat games. He said he plans to be a season ticket holder at Wizards games, as well.

"People were going crazy after they showed me on the screen. I was nervous," Hernandez said. "It's a good feeling that people recognize you."

Injury report: Reliever Antonio Osuna has given up 11 runs in 2 1/3 innings, but the numbers are not what concerns St. Claire. Osuna is currently nursing a sore shoulder, and has not pitched since Sunday against the Marlins.

"We have to try to keep him healthy and not overuse him. We want to keep him a full year," St Claire said.

Here's to you, Jackie: The Nationals became the 31st team in baseball history to retire Jackie Robinson's No. 42. The team placed the number on the right-field wall before Saturday's game between the Nationals and the Diamondbacks.

Robinson was the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Good luck charm: The Nationals will unveil the club's mascot in a pre-game celebration on Sunday. The winner of the "Make-A-Mascot" contest, which asked area students to submit their renditions of what the mascot would look like, was 9-year-old Glenda Gutierrez. Glenda will be honored on the field, and her fourth-grade class from Powell Elementary School will attend Sunday's game to help celebrate the mascot's unveiling.

On deck: The Nationals play the third game of the three-game series against the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. Esteban Loaiza will make his third start of the season for the Nationals.

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