Notes: Robinson confident in bullpen

Notes: Robinson confident in bullpen

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Manager Frank Robinson said that if it weren't for the bullpen, the Nationals would be in bad shape.

Entering Monday's action, the Nationals relievers are a combined 9-7 with a 4.16 ERA and 13 saves. When it comes to the late innings, one could argue that the Nationals have the best relievers in the National League East.

In fact, closer Chad Cordero and setup man Gary Majewski have ERAs under 1.50, while the other setup man, Luis Ayala, has a 2.73 ERA.

"I feel very comfortable when I go to the bullpen," Robinson said. "They don't always do the job, and I know that. But they do it the majority of the time."

Robinson went so far has to say that Cordero should be considered for the All-Star Game, which is being played in Detroit on July 12. Cordero has 11 saves and a 0.78 ERA.

"When you are talking about pitchers. It doesn't always go by your record. It depends on how many players are taken from each team," Robinson said. "It might be tough for him to make it. But he's certainly having the year to be considered."

Robinson said he would not hesitate to use Ayala and Majewski to close games whenever Cordero needs a break. Robinson said Majewski could pitch three innings per game, while Ayala could pitch just two. Ayala has a history of shoulder problems during his career.

Welcome back: Right-hander John Patterson and first baseman Wil Cordero were activated from the disabled list on Tuesday.

Patterson, who was on the DL because of back spasms, is scheduled to start against the Braves on Tuesday. He said he still feels some discomfort, but his back feels better once he loosens up.

Cordero was on a rehab assignment and was 4-for-8 for Double-A Harrisburg. Cordero was on the DL because of a torn medial meniscus in his left knee.

To make room for Patterson and Cordero, the Nationals sent infielder Brendan Harris and outfielder Tyrell Godwin to Triple-A New Orleans.

Harris, who was 3-for-9 with a home run and three RBIs, was very surprised to be demoted. He figured that he would stay with the club because second baseman Jose Vidro is on the disabled list and will not return until the All-Star break.

Harris said the Nationals gave him no reason for the demotion.

"They just said you are going down for Patterson and Cordero," Harris said.

Godwin knew when he was called up last Thursday he would not be with the Nationals very long. He was viewed as a stopgap until one of the position players came off the disabled list. The team wants Godwin to return to the Minor Leagues and learn his craft.

Injury report: Robinson decided to give outfielder Ryan Church another day off because of a sore right calf. Church hurt the calf while fouling off a pitch against the Cardinals last Friday.

Church said he could have started, but he still feels pain whenever he stops running or pushes off the leg.

Jon Rauch will have surgery on his right labrum Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. Drs. Dave Johnson and Wiemi Douoguih will perform the surgery at Washington Hospital Center.

The MRI was inconclusive if Rauch's labrum is torn. If it's not, Rauch could return by the end of the season. Rauch said he started to feel pain in the shoulder two weeks ago.

"It's something you don't want to go through, but it's part of the game. You take it as it is and you move on," Rauch said. "It hard to put a finger on the when [the pain started to come]. It's something I felt in the past. I dealt with it, but it got to the point where I just couldn't do it anymore."

It will be the second time Rauch had labrum surgery. He had the procedure done in 2001 while with the White Sox.

Braves second baseman Brian Giles injured catcher Brian Schneider's left hand on a swing in the third inning on Monday. Schneider eventually left the game in the sixth. The injury is not considered serious, but Robinson, who is cautious when it comes to injuries, said Schneider will be benched on Tuesday in favor of Gary Bennett.

It's the second time Giles hurt Schneider on a swing. Giles hurt the catcher's left elbow last season.

Stat of the day: Entering Monday's action, the Nationals are 21-1 when leading after eight innings, and 2-13 when they score less than three runs.

Did you know? Entering Monday's action, the Nationals are 7-10 in series openers and 8-9 in series finales this season.

On deck: The Nationals play the second game of a four-game series against the Braves on Tuesday night at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Patterson will get the start for the Nationals. He hasn't pitched since May 15 because of lower back spasms. He has a 6.75 ERA during the month of May.

On April 21, Patterson pitched seven shutout innings against Atlanta, but the Nationals went on to lose the game 2-1.

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