Notes: Bacsik carving niche with Nats

Notes: Bacsik carving niche with Nats

ATLANTA -- Nationals left-hander Mike Bacsik may be best known for surrendering Barry Bonds' 756th home run, which broke Hank Aaron's record for home runs in a career.

What goes unnoticed, however, is that Bacsik, 29, is having his most productive season in the big leagues. He has set career highs in innings pitched (108 1/3), strikeouts (42), and wins (five).

Bacsik also ranks second behind Shawn Hill in quality starts, with eight, and has been the team's flexible swing man as both a reliever and a spot starter for most of the season. Bacsik is now back in the rotation after Tim Redding suffered an elbow injury against the Marlins last Wednesday. The southpaw is scheduled to pitch against Florida on Tuesday.

For the season, Bacsik is 5-8 with a 4.65 ERA in 22 games.

Asked to critique his season, Bacsik said it's the best time he has ever had in baseball.

"I've had fun," Bacsik said. "For me personally, to get this many innings in the big leagues and compete against big league guys, I hope I've proved to people in baseball that I can do this for a whole season."

Bacsik is realistic when it comes to his baseball career. He knows he has to go into next Spring Training fighting for a job. He said he would like to stay with the Nationals and be their spot starter again.

"It's gong to be pretty much like every offseason. I will go into it somewhat jobless," Bacsik said. "I'm on the 40-man [roster] now, but it's up to the Nationals. They can take me off and make me a free agent again. So I would have to receive phone calls and hope somebody gives me a chance. I have to work hard during the offseason and be ready to come into Spring Training ready to compete for a job. I know I will never come in to Spring Training like, 'Here's your job.' Just hand it to you. So I'm going to have to work for whatever."

Injury report: Hill has had preliminary talks with manager Manny Acta, pitching coach Randy St. Claire, and athletic trainer Lee Kuntz about his non-throwing shoulder, which has been bothering him for most of the season.

Acta said the team is leaning toward surgery, but said that general manager Jim Bowden will have the final word as far as Hill going under the knife. Hill hurt the shoulder running the bases against the Marlins last April.

There is the issue of getting Hill more innings in the Arizona Fall League or Winter Ball. That also will also play a role in if and when Hill will undergo the surgery.

Progress has been made: Acta likes the fact the team's pitching and defense has improved this year. But Acta acknowledged that team needs a big bat in the lineup. The Nationals are last in the National League in runs scored this season.

"I think everybody is aware that we need a power hitter than can drive in runs for our lineup," Acta said. "We can't hide the fact that we don't have Nick Johnson. We lost [Alfonso] Soriano. We lost [Jose] Guillen and [Jose] Vidro. Our guys deserve a lot of credit for doing what they have done without those guys," Acta said.

Stat of the day: Cristian Guzman leads the Nationals in triples with six. Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman are tied for second with five.

Did you know? Entering Saturday's action, the Nationals are 22-29 against their National League East foes.

Coming up: The Nationals play the third game of a three-game series against the Braves on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET. Washington right-hander Jason Bergmann will face Atlanta righty Lance Cormier.

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