04/16/08 7:18 PM ET
With Lo Duca hurt, Nats call up Nieves
Defensive-minded backstop replaces righty Schroder on roster
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Washington needs a catcher because it does not know the status of Paul Lo Duca, who is still experiencing problems with his right hand. Lo Duca hurt his hand when he was hit by a Jeff Bennett pitch on Sunday at Nationals Park. He had an X-ray that day, and the results were negative.
There's no talk about putting Lo Duca on the disabled list, but a CAT scan is scheduled to make sure that Lo Duca didn't fracture the hand.
"I can't swing," Lo Duca said. "When I get to the point of contact, I get sharp pain. It was a little bit better than it was yesterday, but I can't swing. It doesn't hurt to throw, which is weird."
With Lo Duca out, Johnny Estrada will be the starting catcher, while Nieves serves as the backup.
Nieves is considered a fundamentally sound catcher, but a weak hitter. He appeared in 16 Spring Training games, hitting .174 (4-for-23) with one RBI, before he was reassigned to Minor League camp on March 23.
"[Nieves] is a tremendous catch-and-throw guy," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "He has so much energy. He is like a shortstop catching. He brings a lot to the table with his energy and game-calling. He has never been regarded as a big bat or anything."
Jesus Flores, a much better hitter, couldn't come back to the Major Leagues unless he was replacing a disabled player. He was sent down to Columbus last Sunday and would have to be in the Minor Leagues for 10 days before he was called up again.
Schroder appeared in only two games, giving up a run in 2 2/3 innings. The Nationals want him to improve his slider and get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis.
"Any time you are sent down, you are disappointed, but I understand the situation," Schroder said. "It's unfortunate. I'll just hang in there and do my thing. Think positively."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.