Notes: Speigner to make first ML start

Notes: Speigner to make first ML start

WASHINGTON -- With Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill expected to go on the disabled list due to a sore right elbow, reliever Levale Speigner will make the start against the Braves on Wednesday night at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Speigner has been a long reliever all season, and manager Manny Acta feels that Speigner has been stretched out enough to make a few starts. Originally, the Nationals wanted to bring up right-hander Joel Hanrahan from Triple-A Columbus, but he is on the disabled list because of a groin injury. For now, Acta does not believe Hill's injury is long term, although he is getting an MRI on Monday.

Speigner last pitched on Saturday night against the Marlins and gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings. For the season, he is 1-0 with a 3.77 ERA.

"This is not a permanent move," Acta said. "We are going to give him a shot [and] put him on the rotation right now. It makes sense for now."

Speigner said he is trying not to get too excited about his first Major League start.

"I have to challenge guys, throw strikes and be efficient with my pitches," Speigner said. "I'm trying not to get excited, because I don't want to pitch on emotion. I'll just try to downplay it and focus on being efficient and throw strikes."

The news leaves a clear message that the Nationals don't want to rush their pitching prospects such as left-hander Michael Hinckley and right-hander Collin Ballester.

"We didn't want to put those guys in that type of situation," Acta said. "They are the future. They are doing well down in the Minor Leagues."

Future transaction: With Hill expected to go on the DL on Monday, the Nationals will activate closer Chad Cordero, who has been on the bereavement list since Tuesday because of his grandmother's illness. Joise Cordero, 76, passed away early Friday morning from brain cancer.

Injury report: With Dmitri Young not being able to start the next few days because of a sore left Achilles tendon, the Nationals are planning to platoon Ronnie Belliard and Robert Fick at first base.

Young is still able to pinch-hit. In fact, he collected a pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Marlins on Saturday.

Young said he hurt the Achilles against the Mets on April 27, but continued to play.

"It's one of those injuries that bite you," Young said. "You don't know how it happened. I did a lot of running in that game. I didn't go in for treatment or say anything, like a dummy. It got progressively worse."

The center-field situation: Ryan Langerhans will see the bulk of the playing time against right-handed pitching, leaving Nook Logan on the bench. Langerhans is off to a good start with the Nationals, going 4-for-12 entering Sunday's action, but he must learn to lay off high fastballs. He is known to strike out on those pitches.

"They get me late in the count," Langerhans said. "I might foul off a pitch that would have been a better pitch to hit, and you kind of get into a defensive mode and you end up chasing. I'm going to try to put the ball in play more early in the count, so I want get to that point."

Stat of the day: Entering Sunday's action, Ryan Zimmerman has 14 RBIs this season, including 12 against the Marlins.

Did you know? Zimmerman's three walk-off home runs have occurred on Mother's Day (Saturday night's game, which ended early Sunday morning, against the Marlins), Father's Day (June 18, 2006, against the Yankees) and Independence Day (July 4, 2006, against the Marlins).

Coming up: The Nationals play a four-game series against the Braves, starting on Monday night at 7:05 ET at RFK Stadium. In the opener, Washington right-hander Jason Bergmann will face Atlanta right-hander John Smoltz.

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