SAN DIEGO -- The first day of September -- when Major League teams can expand their active roster from 25 to 40 players -- typically coincides with the sight of a few new faces in the clubhouse. The visitor's digs at PETCO Park, however, was full of the same Nationals players as the day before, and that's likely to be the case until the end of a playoff race. Not a race in the National League East, as Washington (46-86) sports the worst record in baseball, but in the International League, where Triple-A Syracuse is contending for the North Division title. The Nationals held off on recalling any Minor Leaguers while the Chiefs continue their season into next week and look to catch Scranton Wilkes-Barre, who led the division by 3 1/2 games on Tuesday night.
"We'll have some callups," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Most of it will take place after Sept. 7, when our Triple-A season ends. We've got some guys playing down there that will come up here, but right now they are getting the opportunity to play in a playoff atmosphere. They are going to play in some meaningful games there." If the Syracuse team qualifies for the postseason, the callups could be delayed even further. "If they get in the playoffs, it's a great atmosphere for them to pitch in," Riggleman said. "It's going to be tough for them. They're down a few games. The priority is always the Major League club, but we'll get them here in plenty of time to get some outings here, and some of them have already been up here, so we'll have them here in plenty of time to get some big league exposure." Contributing to the lack of need for immediate help was Livan Hernandez, who on Monday gave the bullpen a night off with his complete-game effort, albeit in a losing cause, as the team dropped its fourth straight game, 3-1, against the Padres. "Our roster is pretty well taken care of here, in terms of our bullpen, especially with Hernandez throwing a complete game last night," Riggleman said. "If that changes in the next few days, we'll bring them up, but we'd like to let them stay down there and see if that Syracuse ballclub gets in the playoffs." When the callups do take place, Riggleman alluded to bringing in pitching help to get the team through the season's final full month, one Washington would like to make its first winning month since September 2007, when the club finished 15-12.
Tim Powers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.