Reporting from Washington -- Depending on your perspective, clubhouse manager Mitch Poole bestowed recently promoted rookie catcher Tim Federowicz with either a wonderful gift or a terrible curse.
The No. 31 jersey Poole assigned to Federowicz has belonged in recent years to the likes of Brad Penny, James McDonald and Jay Gibbons.
But the last catcher to wear it was the most beloved Dodger of his era: Mike Piazza.
“A catcher’s worn that before, so why not?” Poole said. “No pressure.”
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said.
The Dodgers, who were rained out Wednesday and are scheduled to play a doubleheader at Nationals Park on Thursday, are using the final month of the season to evaluate their roster. Catcher is among the positions under close inspection.
Opening-day starter Rod Barajas, who is batting .236 with 15 home runs, turned 36 this week and will be a free agent in the fall. A.J. Ellis, a 29-year-old defensive specialist who is showing gradual improvement as a hitter, is the other part-time starter.
Barajas and Ellis will continue to split time until Federowicz, who was called up from triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday, becomes acclimated to his new environment and pitching staff.
The addition of the 23-year-old Federowicz at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, as well as the idea that utility infielder Russ Mitchell should learn how to catch this winter, were inspired by a perceived shortage at the position in the minor league system.
But Federowicz wasn’t acquired from the Boston Red Sox in a three-team trade involving the Seattle Mariners because he reminded anyone of Piazza with the bat in his hands.
When Federowicz was with Boston’s double-A affiliate in Portland, Me., his path to the majors appeared to be blocked by the more offensively capable Ryan Lavarnway, who was in triple A.
Federowicz said he felt fortunate when the Dodgers traded for him.
“It’s a real good opportunity for me,” Federowicz said.
In addition to wearing Piazza’s number, Federowicz also has to shoulder the burden of having cost the Dodgers a popular prospect.
Outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who was sent to the Mariners in the deal, is a graduate of Crenshaw High. Robinson has already reached the majors and went into Wednesday batting .272 with a home run, 10 doubles and nine runs batted in in 24 games with the Mariners.
Federowicz said he doesn’t feel any added pressure and revealed that he and Robinson have shared a laugh. On the day Robinson was called up to the majors, his team was visiting Albuquerque.
“It was like, ‘Hey, we got traded for each other,’” Federowicz said. “It was good.”
The Dodgers were scheduled to face the Nationals on Wednesday. Then they weren’t. Then they were again.
But when a bus arrived at the Dodgers’ hotel at around 3 p.m. PDT. the players didn’t board it. The game was canceled again.
“What a day,” shortstop Dee Gordon posted on his Twitter account.
With rain falling and forecast for the remainder of the day, the Dodgers and Nationals agreed to postpone the game and play a doubleheader Thursday. They did so without receiving necessary approval from Major League Baseball, but the Dodgers posted the news on their Twitter account about 10:30 a.m.
That was a problem. Because the Dodgers won’t be on the East Coast again this season and rain was also forecast for Thursday, the game was in danger of never being played — something Major League Baseball tries to avoid.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo spoke to former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, now a league executive, and soon afterward the game was back on.
Dodgers players were rounded up. Some members of the coaching and training staffs went to Nationals Park.
Then came the final word: The game was canceled again because the playing surface was deemed unsafe.
The Dodgers and Nationals will play a traditional single-admission doubleheader on Thursday, with the first game scheduled to start at 10:05 a.m.
Uribe’s season ends
Juan Uribe underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia. The infielder is expected to be ready for the start of spring training next year.