Nats release six pitchers, including Astacio, Lawrence

WASHINGTON -- Beginning the process of reshaping a last-place roster, the Washington Nationals released six pitchers Tuesday: right-handers Brian Lawrence, Pedro Astacio, Ryan Drese, Felix Rodriguez and Zach Day and left-hander Joey Eischen.

All were injured at some point in 2006, and Lawrence, Drese, Day and Eischen finished the season on the disabled list.

Lawrence never threw a pitch for the Nationals, who acquired him from the San Diego Padres last offseason in a trade for third baseman Vinny Castilla. The Nationals held a team option on Lawrence's contract for 2007.

He was in the mix for the third or fourth spot in Washington's rotation but complained of soreness in his pitching shoulder after the first workout of spring training in February. An MRI exam revealed a torn labrum, and a torn rotator cuff was discovered during surgery. He went 4½ months after the operation without throwing a ball.

Astacio (5-5, 5.98 ERA) left his final start of the season after five innings last week because of tightness in his right forearm.

Drese (0-2, 5.19 ERA) had reconstructive right elbow surgery; Rodriguez (1-1, 7.67 ERA in 31 relief appearances) missed more than three months with a right shoulder problem; Eischen and Day had rotator cuff surgery in June and didn't return.