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Back-to-back jacks

Nats lead 4-3 in Ft. Lauderdale against the O's. Here in Kissimmee, Wily Mo Pena absolutely crushed one off Houston's Jose Valverde, who saved 47 games for Arizona last year, for a solo homer to left. Ronnie Belliard followed with a shot immediately afterward. This was in the sixth, and the Nats now lead 6-2 -- meaning they have scored more runs here today than they did in their first three Grapefruit League games combined.

Steven Shell: Threee decent innings, giving up three hits, a run, two walks and striking out three. This kid was in the Angels' system for seven years, and he caught the eye of Davey Johnson while pitching for USA Baseball.

Shell was relieved by Mike O'Connor, and he looked good as well. Pitched 2-2/3 innings, and though he gave up one run, he did get some swings and misses. I spoke briefly with O'Connor earlier in the week, and he's just trying to put a year filled with injury and poor performance behind him. It's a fresh start.

Lastings Milledge just drilled his second double of the day, giving him three hits.

Other stuff:

Jim Bowden spoke a bit about John Patterson's outing yesterday. Patterson said he is trying to refine his mechanics and therefore his stride is about six inches short of what it normally would be. Bowden would prefer Patterson let it fly, as he has in bullpen sessions.

"I was just glad that he took the mound and he gothis first outing out of the way," Bowden said of Patterson, who has been limited to 15 starts the past two years by a series of arm injuries. "That being said, he was trying to get them out. He threw too many breaking balls. He cut his arm off. He had very short arm action.
"My preference would be, 'Let's establish the fastball and build up arm strenth and get hit."

Patterson, though, is his own guy, and he's going to get ready at his own pace, I'd say. The point: While he did not extend yesterday, he has in bullpen sessions, so he has the ability to do it. It's obvioiusly something to monitor in his next start.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 2, 2008; 2:59 PM ET
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