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Official "When Is Opening Day?" Post

I have awaited Shawn Hill's every bullpen session with baited breath. I have become so well-acquainted with Paul Lo Duca's meniscus that we no longer address each other as sir. I have tried to read John Patterson's confidence level, pinned down Dmitri Young's weight, discussed Ryan Zimmerman's hip flexor, wondered about Rob Mackowiak's abdomen, marveled at Joel Hanrahan's slider and actually considered the pluses and minuses of one Humberto Cota.

With all that, it is officially time for spring training to end, and for the season to begin.

In the interest of full disclosure: This post is coming from the Orlando airport, where I am awaiting the 6:15 p.m. flight back to DCA for a bit of a busman's holiday/respite. Within 30 seconds of the revelation of the NCAA tournament bracket Sunday night, the incomparable Dave Sheinin had messaged me, knowing that Duke had landed in D.C. for the weekend and offering to head down to take over the Nats for a spell. So I'll be at Verizon working the tourney Thursday through Saturday, and Sheinin will handle the Nationals. I'll take the baton back on Sunday morning.

But even with all that, spring training began Feb. 15. It is more than a month later. Other than stretching out pitchers, what's left?

Yes, there will be an interesting decision at second base.

Yes, the rotation is not sorted out -- at least publicly. (Pssst. If it's not, in some order, Perez, Patterson, Redding, Bergmann with Hill waiting in the wings, I'd be shocked.)

Yes, there is perhaps one question in the bullpen (King, Rivera, Schroder -- and yes, there is an outside chance that King won't make it and they'll go all right-handed).

But this is officially stale time. The position players are itchy. The pitchers feel like they're stretched out enough (other than, say, Hill and perhaps Patterson). So let's go!

Alas, we have more than a week before camp is over. So, I do my duty and report to you that Jason Bergmann threw five innings in a minor league game today, and Paul Lo Duca -- who caught him -- said he threw well. Lo Duca and his meniscus are doing fine, thank you, and his meniscus says hello to all of Planet NJ. He will DH on Thursday in the major league game, then catch on Friday against the Mets.

Hung out on the minor league side today. Ran into Jack McGeary, who is in town till March 31, before he goes back to Stanford. He threw live batting practice the other day and said all went well. Justin Maxwell homered in a minor league game, and there was generally a lot of activity down there. You can read about one of the minor leaguers in the $.35/$.50-edition tomorrow.

Also, don't forget about Ryan Zimmerman's chat at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

With that, I hand the keys to Sheinin, and I'll see you Sunday -- when we'll have exactly a week till the opener.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 19, 2008; 5:19 PM ET
 
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