Notes: Nats in need of offense

Notes: Nats in need of offense

WASHINGTON -- The offense is the main reason the Nationals are 4-14 during the second half of the season. Entering Wednesday's action, the Nationals are 29th of 30 teams in the Major Leagues in batting average and last in home runs and RBIs.

Interim general manager Jim Bowden said he is going to give the Nationals a few more days to improve the offense. If they don't, he is prepared to promote players from the Minor Leagues to see if they can get the job done. In fact, Bowden plans to scout the team's Minor League system next week to look at players who could help.

Bowden said he hasn't ruled out promoting third basemen Ryan Zimmerman, Kory Casto or Tony Blanco.

Zimmerman, who was the Nationals' first-round pick in this season, is hitting a combined .308 with six home runs and 23 RBIs for Class A Savannah and Double-A Harrisburg. He is often compared to Brooks Robinson, Scott Rolen and Mike Schmidt for his impressive defense, and Bowden has not ruled out having Zimmerman replace Vinny Castilla as the everyday third baseman.

Castilla has been bothered by left knee problems all season and has three hits in his last 34 at-bats entering Wednesday's action. Overall, he is hitting .244 with six home runs and 46 RBIs.

"I want Vinny to do it," Bowdon said. "He doesn't have the same power. All you have to do is look at the numbers and know what our guys are doing, and we are not getting it done. In the case of Vinny, he has not been healthy. He said his legs are feeling better. I'm hoping to see it at some point, and if we don't see the production, we have to look at alternatives to get the job done."

When asked if Zimmerman was a candidate to be promoted before the rosters expand at the beginning of September, Bowden said, "Every hour he is a candidate. My preference is to bring him up in 2006. I really don't want to do '05. He is hitting over .300 since we drafted him and he is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball. He is young and has high energy.

"I look at [our Major League team] and a lot of times I don't know where the energy went. It's almost like I want to give the team a Red Bull. We go to Atlanta and [the Braves] have energy. We are not scoring. It's not like it has been a week or two weeks. It's been a month where we haven't scored or haven't won."

Casto is playing for Class A Potomac and is hitting .304 with 20 home runs and 74 RBIs. Last month, Casto was named the Carolina League Player of the week for the week ending July 10, the second time this season he won the award.

Blanco, a Rule 5 pick, started the season with the Nationals and is currently on the disabled list because of vertigo. He was hitting .250 with one home run and seven RBIs for the Nationals. Blanco is currently with Triple-A New Orleans on a rehab assignment. He is hitting .283 with two home runs and 14 RBIs.

Injury report: Catcher Brian Schneider woke up on Wednesday morning and noticed that his right shoulder was very sore. He went to have an MRI at Washington Hospital Center and it was revealed that he has bursitis in his rotator cuff . Schneider is listed as day-to-day. Schneider has had shoulder problems for more than a week.

Schneider was given his second cortisone shot in three days and did not play in Wednesday's game against the Dodgers.

Pitching change: Because of the day off this past Monday, Ryan Drese will skip a turn and pitch against the Padres on Saturday. The last time Drese pitched was July 28 against the Braves.

Did you know: On Tuesday, the Dodgers became the first opponent to hit four home runs in a game against a Washington-based team at RFK Stadium since the Red Sox clubbed four home runs against the Senators on Sept. 27, 1970.

Stat of the day: Reliever Gary Majewski has allowed just one home run in 52 innings this season. He surrendered his only home run to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard on July 10.

On deck: The Nationals play the final game of a three-game series against the Dodgers on Thursday night at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Right-hander John Patterson will get the start for the Nationals. He will face the Dodgers for the first time during his career.

Last Saturday, Patterson had another solid outing, but came away with nothing to show for it against the Marlins. He lasted six innings and gave up two runs on five hits. He struck out six batters and walked three.

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