SAN FRANCISCO -- On Friday night, left-hander Matt Chico will face the Diamondbacks for the first time since the team traded him and right-hander Garrett Mock to the Nationals for Livan Hernandez last August. Chico feels if he were still in the Diamondbacks organization, he would still be in the Minor Leagues. He pointed out that Arizona has a plethora of pitching, led by Brandon Webb. "It was hard to move up in that organization because there were so many guys," Chico said. "The competition was unbelievable. If you go out and have a good game, somebody has a better game than you. It kind of helped me out in the process of coming [to the Nationals] and the big leagues."
Chico is not surprised the Diamondbacks are in first place. He said they have a lot of hungry young players on the squad. "They have a lot of guys like we do," Chico said. "They have a lot of heart and determination on the field. They are playing good baseball right now." Chico also has a lot of heart and determination. He is the only starter on the Opening Day roster not to be on the disabled list. Manager Manny Acta continues to say that nothing seems to bother the 24-year-old rookie. For the season, Chico is 5-6 with a 4.76 ERA. Chico was hoping to eliminate half of the mistakes that he made before the All-Star break. But, thus far, he's 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA since the second half started on July 13. Chico needs to get ahead in the count a little more. "I haven't quite eliminated the mistakes. That's the thing I'm a little frustrated by," Chico said. "I'm never going to be satisfied with a four-something ERA. It's something to build off of and improve for next year." Injury report: Acta decided to give shortstop Felipe Lopez the day off because of a sore right knee, an injury that has bothered him for more than a week. D'Angelo Jimenez received the nod at short, while center fielder Nook Logan hit leadoff. Logan has been one of the hottest hitters on the Nationals, going 11-for-21 (.524) in his last six games. Right-hander Jason Simontacchi, on the disabled list because of a sore right elbow, will play catch Tuesday afternoon. Last week, Simontacchi went to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., to get a second opinion on the elbow, and Andrews found no structural damage. A word from Charlie: Nationals play-by-play broadcaster Charlie Slowes has seen some great events during his 20-plus years in the booth, but he is looking forward to possibly calling Barry Bonds' record-breaking home run. Slowes will call the first, second, fifth, sixth and ninth innings during the four-game series in San Francisco. Slowes does not have a prepared call if Bonds hits the home run. "If it happens in the inning that I'm doing the game, you have to treat it as if it's a history-breaking home run," Slowes said. "Bonds is doing it in his own park. You're going to have a high-level of crowd excitement, so you have to call it during the emotion of the moment." Quote of the day: "I don't see the problems having your name linked to history; [Bonds] has to hit it [home run No. 756] off somebody. I personally know Jack Billingham, who gave up the [record-]tying home run to Hank Aaron. Jack didn't go to jail. He is at home. He is retired and collecting his Major League pension. It's all fine. A lot of people are making it out that you be you are going to be deported from the country." -- Acta Stat of the day: Dmitri Young has a .391 batting average (95-for-243) in his last 67 games. Did you know: The Nationals bullpen has pitched 400 innings this season and has an ERA of 3.58 entering Monday's action. Coming up: The Nationals play the second game of a four-game series against the Giants at AT&T Park on Tuesday night. Washington left-hander Mike Bacsik will face San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.