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A week from now ...

... and we'll have some games to talk about. The Grapefruit League season starts next Friday in beautiful Vero Beach, Fla., where the Nationals will face the Dodgers in Dodgertown. There may never have been a spring training like this one, where each outing by each pitcher will have to be scrutinized.

Think about the past two springs, the first for the Nationals in D.C. If Livan Hernandez went out and got roughed up in his first couple outings, it wouldn't have made a shred of difference. He was going to be the Opening Day starter if he could walk (and, of course, there was even some question as to whether he could do that, but he still pitched). Now, if Joel Hanrahan or Colby Lewis gets bombed or can't find the plate, it could be the end of the line for them.

(Lewis, I was told, was quite impressive in his live batting practice session today. But you know who was moreso: Ryan Zimmerman. Three mammoth homers (that I didn't see, because I was watching Emiliano Fruto for a story that will run in tomorrow's paper) that I was told just jumped off the bat. "I'm ready," Zimm said. Anxious to see what Zimmerman 2.0 ends up being.)

Anyway, there will be tremendous pressure on each of those outings. And keep in mind, we must watch Patterson, too, because while the organization is promoting him as the one solid starter, he knows he still has to prove he can do it day in, day out. Any little injury or mishap with him will be watched closely.

Tiny bit of news: Mark Lerner rolled into town this afternoon to survey the work at Space Coast Stadium, which is looking better by the day. All the seats are in, and the sun canopies that will provide some shade are shaping up. They have eight days to finish everything before the first home game. Lerner said he was very happy with the progress. Of course, Mark Lerner always seems very happy about everything, at least in my encounters with him.

Tinier bit of news: Brian Schneider, as I said yesterday, bought lunch for everyone today. Barbecue (not exactly from his native Pennsylvania, but whatever works). Next up: Nick Johnson, who has chosen an Italian buffet. Johnson -- admittedly 15 pounds overweight because of inactivity following his broken leg -- might just hit the salad portion.

As you know, Nationals Journal takes a little nap over the weekend. As you can tell, it needs it. Steinberg has made blogging a full-time job. I just dabble in it on the side (some of you who still read that ink-and-paper product may be aware I still have a full-time job). But I would invite anyone to leave comments suggesting stories they'd like to read next week. I've pretty much got things lined up through the weekend, but ideas are welcome. (No promises, of course, but keep 'em coming.)

Have a great weekend.

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 23, 2007; 6:04 PM ET
 
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