A newsy start to Saturday
A bit of a newsy Saturday morning, though Manny Acta preferred yesterday's question-and-answer session, which dealt with strategy more than personnel. But we have to do what we have to do, so here goes.
Johnny Estrada has been shut down because of tenderness/inflammation/tendinitis in his right (throwing) elbow. Remember, Estrada had surgery on the elbow last fall, and while he said he didn't expect to be at full strength now, this is certainly a setback.
"I'm not too worried - yet," Estrada said. His knee - on which he also had surgery - is fine, but it'll be a few days before he'll try to throw or swing again.
That brings us to the other catcher, Paul Lo Duca. He took dray swings in the batting cage yesterday, and he'll have a soft-toss session today. His hope is to catch batting practice on Monday as he recovers from January surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
The concern here: The catchers, both of them veterans, need to learn this pitching staff. While Acta said the club expected both to be slowed, the catchers are clearly itching to get going. "Me and Paulie are in the same boat," Estrada said.
Catching up: Acta said he's not concerned about getting Estrada and Lo Duca at-bats, and the two concurred. They can go down to accelerated camp in a few weeks and get six or seven at-bats in a day if they need to.
More little nicks: Dmitri Young is not in the lineup today against Baltimore because of a strain in his side and down into his left quad. He said he did it swinging, and it might cost him three-four days. (Nick Johnson not in there today, either, but that's because he played yesterday. No concerns for him.)
Visa update: There are five Dominican guys - Jesus Colome being the most significant - who have been out of camp clearing up visa issues. Colome is not expected in camp until Tuesday or Wednesday, but as Acta said, he just finished pitching in the Caribbean Series, so he's loose, and he can get plenty of work as a reliever in the accelerated camp at the minor league complex if need be.
Things aren't as good for Japanese lefty Katsuhiko Maekawa. His visa has been denied, and Acta suspects it's because of his legal problems in Japan stemming from a hit-and-run accident a couple of years ago. Acta indicated the club would try to help him however they could, but it doesn't sound promising, and the club appears ready to just leave that as it is. I doubt Maekawa will ever show up here.
Rob Mackowiak: Probably out another day or so with his strained side suffered yesterday.
Shawn Hill: Threw the ball well in a live BP session yesterday, and reports he's no better or worse afterward. The soreness from his surgery is still there. I'm not sure when to get really concerned about it. He had the same thing last year and it didn't affect him - until he slid into third base in Florida and jammed his left shoulder. Acta said Hill doesn't remember a time pitching without the soreness. I'll monitor it, but try not to freak out about it.
Your lineup against the Orioles:
Felipe Lopez - 6
Bret Boone - 4
Lastings Milledge - 8
Wily Mo Pena - DH
Austin Kearns - 9
Elijah Dukes - 7
Kory Casto - 5
Jesus Flores - 2
Josh Whitesell - 3
John Patterson - 1
Patterson's first outing should be interesting, though it'll be just a couple innings. He's been told not to go all-out, but he gets amped for this kinda thing, so we'll see. The Orioles are scheduled to bring new center fielder Adam Jones (from the Bedard trade) as well as catcher Matt Wieters, their highly touted first-round pick from last year's draft. Daniel Cabrera is on the hill, so it should be fun.
Also: Boz is here! (Forgot to mention that yesterday. He's so excited he's wearing shoes that have stitches that look just like a baseball. It's incredible.) Here's his first sunny take on the Nationals.
I wrote about, of all things, batting practice and how it could be a bit different for the Nats this year. The notebook is here, and ace photographer Toni Sandys used part of yesterday to shoot a photo gallery, which is quite nice.
Talk at you later.
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