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Nationals release six

Nats release six players

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals released pitchers Pedro Astacio, Zach Day, Ryan Drese, Brian Lawrence, Joey Eischen and Felix Rodriguez on Tuesday. All six were hampered by injuries during the 2006 season.

Lawrence, acquired from the Padres in the Vinny Castilla deal in November, never threw a pitch because of a torn rotator cuff and labrum in his right shoulder. The Nationals already told him they were not going to pick up his option, which was worth $5.7 million. The buyout was $125,000.

Astacio, Day, Drese, Eischen and Rodriguez combined to play in 77 games. Astacio signed for $700,000 plus incentives in late February because of the injury to Lawrence. But he would miss most of the first half because of a right forearm strain. He would eventually play in 17 games and go 5-5 with a 5.98 ERA. In his last game against the Phillies, on Sept. 27, Astacio suffered right forearm tightness.

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Day was reacquired off waivers from Colorado on April 26, but he pitched in only five games before right shoulder problems put him out for the season.

Drese didn't start the season on time because of shoulder surgery from the previous season. He appeared in only two games and needed elbow reconstruction later in the season. He is not expected to be ready to pitch in a game again until August 2007.

Eischen and Rodriguez were two guys the Nationals wanted to release back in May, but then-president Tony Tavares prevented it from happening. By the time the Lerner Group took over, Eischen and Rodriguez were already on the disabled list with shoulder problems. Rodriguez would return to action in September.

Rodriguez appeared in 31 games and gave up 25 runs in 29 1/3 innings, while Eischen had an 8.59 ERA in 22 games.

Both Day and Lawrence said they haven't ruled out returning to the Nationals.

In other news: Alfonso Soriano made a trip to the Nationals' locker room and team store on Tuesday. He declined to talk about baseball. Soriano and agent Diego Bentz are scheduled to meet the Nationals front office on Wednesday discuss the possibility of Soriano re-signing with the club.

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

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