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Game Thread: San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals - 2008 Game 156 of 162.

In the finale of the three-game weekend series with San Diego, the Washington Nationals turn to left-handed starter "Opening Night" Odalis Perez (7-10, 4.26 ERA) as DC tries to avoid being swept by the Padres, who throw 29-year-old righty Cha Seung Baek, (5-10, 5.06 ERA). The last Sunday home game in DC gets underway at 1:35 pm EST...

On The Hill...

Odalis Perez, 31, has faced San Diego 10 times in his 10-year career, 9 times as a starter, and he's posted a (2-4) record with a 5.54 ERA in 50.1 innings pitched in which the former Brave, Dodger and Royal has allowed 64 hits, 31 ER, 5 HR's and 17 walks with 32 K's collected from the Padres. Perez has already faced San Diego once earlier this season when the Nationals visited PETCO Park in May, beating the Padres on the 28th, with Perez lasting 6.1 innings and giving up just 6 hits, 3 runs and 3 walks while striking out four before leaving with a lead in the bottom of the seventh which would hold up for what was then Perez's second win of the season.

Perez's last outing, a 7.1 inning, 1-hit, 1-0 shutout win over New York in Shea, may have been "Opening Night's" best start of '08. Holding the Mets to just 4 hits and refusing to walk anyone, Perez struck out 6 and with the help of the bullpen, DC and their starter needed only one run to claim a victory on the road against a team, the Mets, that was fighting for its playoff life...

...Cha Seung Baek was acquired by San Diego from Seattle back on May 27th, and the Korean-born 29-year-old right-hander is (5-9) in 18 starts and 2 relief appearances with the Padres since, but he's yet to face DC in 4 years in the Majors all of which were spent in the AL with Seattle before this season's trade.

On the road this season, Baek's (4-2) in 7 starts and 7 relief appearances in which he's allowed 57 hits in 56.2 IP, with 31 ER's scored, 10 HR's served up and 16 walks issued...Odalis Perez is (3-5) in 15 starts at home in front of the DC Faithful, with an ERA nearly four runs lower that what he's managed to do away from the nation's capital.

Padres' #'s Against Odalis Perez...

Brian Giles - 6 for 21, .286 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI's, 4 walks.

Adrian Gonzalez - 0 for 4, .000 AVG.

The Lastings Milledge Centerfield Situation: What They're Saying...

When the Washington Nationals acquired Lastings Milledge from the New York Mets back on 11/30/07, MLB.com writer Bill Ladson quoted, in article entitled, "Nationals acquire Milledge from Mets", a then-22-year-old Milledge, who explained why he thought it was best for him to play centerfield defensively with DC:

"'I was drafted as a center fielder,' Milledge said. 'I played left and I played right. They are difficult positions to play, but I definitely feel that I'm not a liability. I can play both positions -- left and right -- above average. Center field is my premier position. That's the position [where] I can do more for the team.'"

Now flash forward to Washington Post sports writer Chico Harlan's article yesterday (Saturday, 9/20) entitled, "Milledge may be placed in corner in '09", where Mr. Harlan presents a 23-year-old outfielder, in Milledge, who is struggling defensively, questioning himself, and raising questions in the DC "front office", according to Mr. Harlan, about whether or not he (Milledge) would be better off in a corner outfield spot when play starts next season.

Mr. Harlan explains, in the article, how he interprets DC GM Jim Bowden's cryptic comment the other day at an ESPN Zone Q&A, where Mr. Bowden said, "...that the Nationals would explore a position change in the outfield 'to upgrade our defense.'" To Mr. Harlan, it's obvious that the DC GM is talking about Elijah Dukes, who is, "...currently Washington's starting left fielder, (but) has the natural talent to shift to center," in Mr. Harlan's words.

The DC GM was also quoted in Chico Harlan's "Nationals Journal" post about the Q&A entitled, "The State of the Nationals (from the Zone)", where Mr. Harlan notes that in response to a question about the composition of the Nationals' '08 outfield:

"(Asst. GM Mike) Rizzo sketched a Dukes-Milledge-Kearns scenario, but Bowden quickly added, "I think there's also the possibility we could make a trade and change that answer."

Uh? So what are we being led to believe here? What trade, Mr. Bowden? The only trade possibility involving the Nationals' outfield I could fathom would have to be a deal involving Austin Kearns, who has been either injured or underperforming for most of his tenure with the Nationals. (ed. note - "Though he is sharp defensively.") Because surely the DC GM wouldn't be thinking about trading either Dukes or Milledge within a year of having acquired both of the outfielders? No one seems to view Willie Harris as anything more than a fourth outfielder, and I don't see anyone in the system supplanting Dukes, Milledge or Kearns any time soon...So, what are we supposed to be thinking, as fans, after having read this? Will it be Milledge, Dukes and Kearns left to right, Dukes, Milledge, Kearns? Dukes, Harris, Milledge? Dukes Bernadina, Milledge? Oh the winter is gonna be interesting...and that's not even thinking about first base...

Don't Forget To...

Check the NatCast if you're heading to Nationals Park...

For A Padres' Fans' Perspective Check Out The SBN's Padres' Blog:

Gaslamp Ball

The last chance for DC to wear their Sunday reds. Odalis vs Cha. 1:35 pm EST live from Nationals Park. DC vs SD one more time in '08. How about Zim wakes up the bat and hits a Sunday blast for the DC Faithful? Will Dukes leave the yard? Will Milledge be back in center? Will Willie Harris be better off in the day? Who's Watching The Nationals?