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Notes: Nats' bullpen ready for break

Notes: Nats' bullpen ready for break

WASHINGTON -- The bullpen has been the strength of the Nationals in 2007. Entering Sunday's action, the relievers are a combined 13-12 with a 3.99 ERA and 22 saves.

They also have been overworked, pitching in a National League-leading 318 1/3 innings as Washington's starters have averaged just 5 1/3 innings per start. Given the first-half burden, pitching coach Randy St. Claire wants the relievers to rest their arms during the All-Star break.

"They have done a lot of work this year. [They need to have] a little down time and just rest a little bit," St. Claire said. "I would like them to take their gloves home wherever they go and just play a little catch, but that's to keep their arms stretched out. Take the three days off and relax."

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Closer Chad Cordero agrees his bullpen mates such as right-handers Saul Rivera and Jon Rauch need the time off. Rauch leads the Major Leagues in appearances, while, according to Cordero, Rivera gets up and throws in the bullpen almost every day.

"Guys like that are definitely going to need the rest," Cordero said. "They need the time off, just to get away from the game, let their bodies kind of heal, so they can come back strong on Friday."

Pitching rotation: According to St. Claire, Jason Bergmann will start the first game against the Marlins after the All-Star break. Bergmann will be followed by left-hander Matt Chico, right-hander Jason Simontacchi, left-hander Mike Bacsik and right-hander Tim Redding.

In order to stay sharp, Bergmann is expected to have a bullpen session at the Nationals' Spring Training complex in Viera, Fla., on Tuesday. Chico will have his bullpen session Thursday in Miami.

Going to San Francisco: Dmitri Young's All-Star uniform arrived Friday. He is most proud of the fact that his two sons, Owen, 10, Damon, 8, will wear similar uniforms during the festivities.

"It's cooler they have the [All-Star logo] on their uniforms. Four years [after Young was an All-Star in Detroit), they are going to be with me on the field," Young said.

Stats of the day: Entering Sunday's action, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .324 (35-for-108) from the seventh inning on.

Did you know: Catcher Brian Schneider has played 605 games for the Nationals/Expos and ranks second behind Gary Carter, who played in 1,291 games for the Expos.

Coming up: The Nationals take three days off because of the All-Star break and then fly to Miami to have a workout Thursday evening in Miami. On Friday, the Nationals start a three-game series against the Marlins at Dolphin Stadium. Bergmann (1-5, 3.47 ERA) will get the start in Game 1.

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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