MIAMI -- When the Nationals optioned Luis Atilano to Class AAA Syracuse last weekend, the club made it clear the demotion would only be temporary and that the right-hander would rejoin the rotation to serve as the No. 5 starter out of the All-Star break.
Atilano, though, struggled mightily in his first (and presumably only) appearance for Syracuse yesterday, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks in only 2 1/3 innings against Pawtucket.
"He didn't have a good night," Jim Riggleman said today. "He just didn't get his ball sinking, get the groundballs on hittable pitches. Hopefully it's just an aberration that he didn't have a good day there. But it's challenging. Double-A, Triple-A hitters, they're trying to get you. They got him. But we're confident the games he gave us here are more of indication of what he can do for us."
It wasn't as though Atilano was dominating big-league hitters before the demotion. Over his last five starts, he went 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA. So is Atilano still a lock to start Tuesday in Cincinnati?
"Unless I hear different, that's our plan," Riggleman said. "Our plan is that he's going to join us Tuesday. We need a starter Tuesday. That's why we sent him down there to pitch [yesterday], so he'd be ready Tuesday. If Mike or Steve or somebody has a different idea, I guess we'd talk about it. But I think that's on our schedule, for him to pitch Tuesday."
In other rotation news, Scott Olsen is scheduled to make a rehab start tomorrow for low-Class A Hagerstown. Olsen, out since late May with inflammation in his surgically repaired left shoulder, has already pitched twice in Gulf Coast League rookie games in Viera, totaling five innings of work.