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Your chance to blog -- about the ballpark

Some of you may have seen this before, but sports editor Jon DeNunzio just passed this on to me. The Post is setting up a blog, with multiple authors, for fans this summer that will serve as forums on all things Nationals Park. Love the food? Blog about it. Hate the food? Blog about it. Have a problem with customer service? Blog about it. Love your customer service?

Kind of a cool idea. Jon says it will be called the Grounds Crew, and you can apply by clicking on that link, or here, or here, or here.

Speaking of stuff, I'll have my regular chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday. And as of now, Ryan Zimmerman is scheduled to chat at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Get your questions in early (and turn your attention from the NCAA tourney for an hour).

Baseball stuff: Nats lose 7-3 to the Mets. Mike O'Connor had his first shaky outing of the spring, allowing four earned runs in 4-2/3 innings. Lot of bleeders against him, but he didn't control his fastball and didn't feel at all comfortable with his changeup.

I believe, however, that might be the last time we see O'Connor pitch in a major league game down here. As I said before, Jason Bergmann and Matt Chico had been throwing on the same day all spring. Now, on the schedule posted in the Nationals' clubhouse, Bergmann is scheduled to throw on Wednesday's off day (in a minor league game), and Chico has been moved. Tim Redding pitches tomorrow. Odalis Perez Thursday. John Patterson again Friday. You see where I'm heading with this? I think we can start to piece together the rotation that I predicted in the roster post this morning.

More pitching (as Jim Bowden said, you can't have enough): Shawn Hill had what all regarded as an exceptional bullpen session this morning. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire said: "I wish I could throw him out there tomorrow. But I can't. Not in my heart I can't. Not in my heart or my brain."

Hill threw 35 pitches, including his curveball. He said his curveball was better than it had been at any point this spring (I think I mentioned some of this earlier). St. Claire said he would have to dial himself back because he wants Hill out there, but knows he must be brought along slowly. More of St. Claire's reaction: "Watching him throwing, it's like, 'Wow. Wish I had this [stuff] when I was playing.'"

That seems to be a step in the right direction.

Tomorrow, as I said, Tim Redding against the Tigers in Lakeland. Don't forget, the game is on ESPN. Should be a good test for Redding, who was tremendous in his last outing (five innings, one hit, one walk, four striekouts against the Marlins).

Elijah Dukes won't make the trip (but I can guarantee you'll be able to read about him in tomorrow's $.35/$.50-edition). He ran before today's game and his right hamstring didn't feel quite right, so Manny Acta sat him. Acta believes that with another off day tomorrow, then the scheduled off day on Wednesday (the only one of the spring), Dukes should be ready to play Thursday.

Ryan Zimmerman, 2 for 4 as the DH today, should also play in the field Thursday. And Paul Lo Duca -- who's not exactly that fired up about continuing to play in minor league games -- is also scheduled to play in his first Grapefruit League game of the spring on Thursday.

I have a long drive to Lakeland in the morning, so the next post likely won't be till after 10 a.m. That should give you plenty of time to mull over this piece on Elijah Dukes and the support system the Nationals have developed around him. (Hang in there. It's a long one.) With the New York media in town, Paul Lo Duca expanded on his apology regarding the Mitchell Report -- just a tad.

Talk to you from Lakeland. Remember, Tuesday's game is on ESPN!

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 17, 2008; 6:02 PM ET
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Next: Lineups vs. Tigers


Barry, the wife and I will be down there starting with Thursday night's game through next Friday. we'll look you up!

Posted by: Dave | March 17, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Glad about the Ground Crew and I hope that can get a lot of those comments off this blog but not getting my hopes up. Personally, I prefer baseball talk here and not "the beer was warm" but no big deal.

re: pitching. This is a re-post but still curious.

Question - why do we need a 5th starter on the 6th in STL? W/ an off day on the 1st, they can go w/ 4 starters in the 1st 4 games then back to the opening day guy for the 4th in STL then 2nd guy on Sat, 3rd guy on Sunday, 4th guy on Mon then off day Tues and back to #1 on Wed, the 9th and not get to the 5th spot until the 13th vs. ATL.
All that is w/ everyone getting the normal 4 days off between starts.
This would mean Hill could rest/rehab until the 13th, right?
Am I missing something??

Posted by: Avar | March 17, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Please don't tell me they really plan on flying the Canadian flag below the USA flag and at the same level as the DC flag. It's in the drawing that way, and it looks like the flapoles out in left-center are arranged that way, sans flags so far, of course.

We all know that the 51st state talk is just talk. And that this will be a minor diplomatic embarrassment that they'll have to fix quickly. They know that, right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Posted by: le commenter diplomatique | March 17, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

The way it works out, they need a fifth starter on April 6th, because:

March 30: 1
March 31: 2
April 1: OFF
April 2: 3
April 3: 4
April 4: 1 (on four days rest)
April 5: 2 (on four days rest)
April 6: 5 -- think about it. Because the off day on the third day of the season, the third starter would not have four days rest. He'd have three.

(I've worked this through like 8,000 times.)

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | March 17, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Just figuiring it out as Barry posted.Def need a5th man on the 6TH. I feel they should go with 5 starters when they break camp...not much to gain otherwise. Put Patterson on the DL until he's ready to be successful(physically and/or mentally.

Posted by: 5 man rotation | March 17, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Orioles lurkers - if you can find Sam Perlozzo ask him what it meant to get swept last year by the Nationals at "the most beautiful ballpark in America."

Posted by: natsscribe | March 17, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

if they can have the 5th starter either coming off of the DL or from the minors on the 6th, why not use the extra roster to carry a player they might have to waive for an extra week? or an extra fielder or bullpen guy to give manny flexibility? no reason to put someone on the OD roster just because you'll need them in a week.

Posted by: 231 | March 17, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Feeding the lurkers is bad enough. Now we're BAITING them? Geez.

Posted by: Doug & Wendy | March 17, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

more bait -

The Nationals have WON MORE GAMES the past three years than the AngelO's.

Posted by: natsscribe | March 17, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

In Patterson's defence: Chris Needham??!

Posted by: MIB | March 17, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Remember that if you put a guy on the DL, I'm pretty sure he cannot play in any major league games including spring training for 15 days before you want to activate him. That means that Hill couldn't pitch in a MLB spring training game after March 22nd if the Nats wanted him to pitch on April 6th. I guess he could throw in minor league games, but that's not quite as good.

Somebody should check me on this, but I'm pretty sure that's the rule.

Posted by: #4 | March 17, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Uh, Barry? Care to expand on this? "[LoDuca is]....not exactly that fired up about continuing to play in minor league games."
In what way? Is he whining because he thinks he belongs in Major League camp? Is he upset because he is competitive, and wants to be hitting against the best, and catching the starters?
Is this the first glimmer we may see into his reported bad clubhouse presence? Or am I just jumping to conclusions...?

Posted by: Section 138 | March 17, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

i think you're overthinking that, 138. i'm sure it's because he wants to start playing with the big boys, start getting to know his pitchers, start hitting against higher-quality pitchers.

#4, pretty sure you're right, nothing with the major league team for 15 days. and, i'm not sure, but it's even possible it's 15 major league days, not spring training (but i doubt it).

maybe it's not hill that turns into the #5 on 4/6 if they have to put him on the DL.

Posted by: 231 | March 17, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you 231 on Lo Duca. Minor league spring training games have all the atmosphere of baloney on white bread. A good HS game draws 10 times the crowd. No big leaguer wants to play in them. It's a real come down.

Posted by: #4 | March 17, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

For the grounds crew blog, do I have to actually BE at the park?

Posted by: Jayson Blair | March 17, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant! Thank you Barry. Now, following the logic, I see they need the #5 again on the 13th in ATL or else the #4 would go on 3 days rest. Then the off day lets them reset if they want, which gives #4 8 days between starts. Or let #4 go on the 15th and the #1 gets 6 days rest.

OK, this is Barry's job so he should think about it. But, what is wrong with ME that I think about it????

Posted by: Avar | March 17, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

This place gives me the creeps sometimes. So many "fans" are looking for a bad sign. Patterson says he feels tight and they say he's a head case; Lo Duca says he wants to play in a real game and he's an attitude problem; Acta says he's not worried and he's stonewalling. Last week some were sure that Zimmerman was hurt worse than the team was admiting. The coverage sucks, the parking sucks, the flags are not right. (I myself complain about MASN.)

And yet I keep coming back because this is a great place to get information about the team, the stadium, and all things Nationals. I am grateful to the Post and especially Barry for the great coverage. I would love to have Dave Sheinin pitching in with a few more MLB tidbits too. I look forward to continued coverage here for years to come.

Posted by: NatBisquit | March 17, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey, wasn't Boom-Boom supposed to be dropping in weekly, or did we nix that?


I would love to have Dave Sheinin pitching in with a few more MLB tidbits too.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 17, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Nats Insider: Come for the journal, stay for the creeps.
"If you don't get the creeps here, you don't get the creeps here."

Posted by: Mr. In Between | March 17, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

"Nats Insider: Come for the journal, stay for the creeps."

And you all got mad at me when I started offering candy to children to help me with my science project...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 17, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

This post breaks my heart. Shawn Hill is still pitching awesome and sounds like he's itching to pitch. Sounds like Randy is just as itchy to HAVE him pitch. And we still might have Odalis Perez opening for us? I can't believe this.

And what's worse, I'll have to eat crow for this sarcastic little number: UGH!

"Mmm hmm. Odalis Perez vs. John Smoltz on OD. That's some of your finest work yet, Ladson."
Posted by: NatsNut | March 10, 2008 03:57 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | March 17, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Great piece about Dukes. It gets to the heart of the Kasten-Jimbo style of rebuilding the team. They are really about giving carefully-selected "low cost wash-outs" a second chance. Last year Dmitri was the story. When the Nats are "suddenly" a .500 team this year, there will be more interest in what has been done with this years misfits.

Posted by: Kamau | March 18, 2008 2:33 AM | Report abuse

So many thrads.

Hill- The news sounds good, but I am trying not to get too excited yet.

Canadian flag- No way they mess that up. Mot in DC.

Lo Duca- He is just competitive and itching to play. That was one of the traits that led to his being signed.

Sheinin- I hoped for more from him because he is a good writer. Serves the board right for not welcoming him without strings attached (I asked for a Nats slant. Anything would have been welcome).

Dukes- I can't read it yet. I need something good to read on the train. I couldn't be pulling harder for him, though.

Patterson- In frustration I was one who said he was toast. Needham was less cynical than I. That's proof enough that I overreacted- I am taking the deep breath Barry suggested.

O's on this board- I'm all for growing the rivalry. We shouldn't let it distract us from our conversation, though. Think of it as one of your kids talking to you while you are on the phone. A "go away kid, you bother me" stance is called for.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 18, 2008 5:10 AM | Report abuse

OK, coffee was still brewing at 5:10.

"So many threads"

"Not in DC"

Dukes article had just the right tone. Cautiously optimistic, but heavy on the caution. Good luck kid, we're pulling for you.

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 18, 2008 6:25 AM | Report abuse

You know, if I had a cortisone shot in my arm, I would feel like I could throw harpoons through tanks too. This is Shawn Hill we are talking about, Poster Child for the DL. It's smart to be cautious with him.

Posted by: NatsNQ | March 18, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

The Dukes article shows why Dmitri may be worth keeping around for the $5mil, even if he isn't starting at first.

Posted by: NoVANat | March 18, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Ok, It may have been a shot at LoDuca for me to mention it as a possible negative. I should have given him the benefit of the doubt, and thought of it only as pure competitiveness.
I blame Barry, however! Shame on you, Mr. Svrluga.

Posted by: Section 138 | March 18, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I once was unable to throw a ball 45 feet without pain due to AC joint tendonitis. After receiving a cortisone shot in my shoulder, I was able to throw 45 minutes of batting practice 6 or 7 days in a row. My shoulder never bothered me again for 10 years. Cortisone can work wonders in shrinking a swollen tendon. Depending on what is causing the inflammation, it can be a one time cure. Obviously pitching in the big leagues and throwing HS batting practice are two different things, but the cortisone shot could be the thing that gets Hill over the top with his rehab.

Posted by: #4 | March 18, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Dukes article was fantastic, one of the many reasons why i'll miss Barry when he's gone.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 18, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I will preface this with an apology to NatBisquit. I don't usually nitpick quotes, but this Lo Duca thing kind of got to me this morning. I'm sorry for the creeps this may cause.

But honestly, Lo Duca's re-apology rings hollow and insincere. This isn't a Nats thing, and this isn't a Lo Duca thing. I'm going to hold everyone to the same standard here.

If you really and sincerely want to apologize, do what Brian Roberts did. That's all it takes.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 18, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

but then you have people like smoltz that gets cortisone shots 5 times a year. like you mentioned, depending on what is bothering the tendons, cortisone is either cure or a procrastination to the real solution.

and i was under the assumption that one cannot simulate the problem causing motion for roughly 2 weeks after a cortisone shot? is that another thing that falls under the depending category?

Posted by: theraph | March 18, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Re: Grounds Crew. I hope we can think up a name for the ballpark, like "The Navy Yard" or South Capital Park or something that will stick despite whatever corporate sponsor sticks its name on the place. The beautiful stadium in San Francisco has been through three names in less than 10 years, just as the Football field in Baltimore has already had two.

At least no one refers to the neighborhood as Raljon

Posted by: Sec 314 | March 18, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Just got to Lakeland. To clarify: Lo Duca just wants to play in major league games. Itching to play against the big boys, etc.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | March 18, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

The Flag is now flying at the new park as of the 10:01 left field camera shot.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | March 18, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse


I'm no doctor, so I cannot answer your question. I know I had to wait about a week which I think is how long Hill waited before tossing softly from 45 feet. I also know that I was able to crack it up pretty quickly afterwards because of what was causing my inflammation (a bone spur).

Posted by: #4 | March 18, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

As a 20-pack holder, my regular tickets came but I still have not gotten either opening day or exhibition tickets even tho my Nats rep told me they were mailed out a week ago. What experience have others had?

Posted by: Natsfly | March 18, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

That should be "crank it up".

Posted by: #4 | March 18, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

NatsFly: Your opening day tickets should have arrived about a week after you bought them, they came in a plain white envelope, double check your mail and call your ticket rep if you can't find them. I have not read of any 20 gamers receiving their 3/29 game tickets yet.

Posted by: PowerBoater | March 18, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

My Opening Day tickets came in the mail about a week after I purchased them online during the STH presale. The tickets were mailed in a nondescript white envelope with a California return address. Nothing on the envelope indicated that it had anything to do with the Nationals or tickets. It would have been very easy to mistake the envelope for junk mail and toss it. I almost did, actually.

Although I was told via e-mail from the Nats STH customer service that the exhibition game tickets for 20-gamers were all mailed last Friday, I haven't seen mine yet.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | March 18, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

MLBtraderumors links to a SF story which says Jerome Williams (he of the early season 0-6 record for the Nats last year) visited the Giants' minor league camp, begging for even a minor league chance. It shows yet again how marginal some of the pitchers the Nats auditioned last year really were.

I wish the guy well, don't get me wrong. I imagine it has to be tough to plummet from a promising start in the majors in a few short years.

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 18, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

yeah, i almost tossed the extra OD tix i bought, they totally look like junk mail. white envelope with your name/address and a return address (no company name) in the upper left corner. and no other markings.

Posted by: 231 | March 18, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Based on performance this spring, I would not pencil Patterson into my starting rotation, no way.

My instinct says Patterson should be relegated to AA or AAA until he gets his head on straight and shows he can get somebody out with his fast ball. His last outing against the "murderers' row" of the Orioles was ugly. His comments after the game indicate he was thinking about a whole lot of things besides getting batters out. There are only one or two more starts left before the regular season, and he clearly is not ready.

Will he ever be? He's no Brad Penny, that's for sure.

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | March 18, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

"It shows yet again how marginal some of the pitchers the Nats auditioned last year really were."

Amen. This time last year I was hoping that Williams would emerge as a strong number three starter. Like others around here, I was cheered inordinately by Barry's projected rotation at Columbus this year. We have a couple of "plan B's" to fall back on this year.

Posted by: lowcountry | March 18, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

My single-game tickets came in the same nondescript envelope. does this to avoid advertising the fact that there are tickets in the envelope, which would make them ripe for ganking.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 18, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I award John in Mpls bonus points for correct and appropriate use of the underappreciated term "ganking." Well done, sir.

Posted by: faNATic | March 18, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

And we have a winner...the fourth and final advertising panel on the scoreboard (right below the WaPo ad) is for...Miller Lite!

Posted by: BSG | March 18, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

johnR, how would you propose getting patterson to AA/AAA? he has no options left.

Posted by: 231 | March 18, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"My single-game tickets came in the same nondescript envelope. does this to avoid advertising the fact that there are tickets in the envelope, which would make them ripe for ganking."

Probably a good idea, but OTOH they may have gone too far over to the side of nondescript packaging. As I said, I nearly tossed mine by mistake, and I bet there are actually some people who have tossed theirs and are now contacting the Nats ticket office to ask why they haven't gotten their tickets.

I bought single-game tickets the past few seasons and had them mailed to me, and as I recall the packaging those years was not quite as nondescript as it is now. I don't remember whether it said Nationals or tickets on the outside of the envelope, though. Maybe it did, and people were having their tix ganked so they made the envelope more plain this year. But probably whichever way they do it they are going to have some issues that will need to be sorted out with people not getting their tix via the mail. Which kind of makes me wonder why they don't offer the print-at-home option for free instead of slapping on a service charge for it. I know that's why I choose to have the tickets mailed, because there is no extra charge for that.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | March 18, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I would've bet money that it was going to be Cox instead of Miller Lite... Has anyone checked out some of the night-time pix of the scoreboard/ads lit up? Not to shabby, practically iluminates the whole park on it's own

Posted by: Gibby | March 18, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The beers I will enjoy at the Navy Yard (good idea, 314) don't need to be advertised. I just wonder which ones they will be.

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 18, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, the envelope looked strikingly similar to a fake car warranty mailing I get about once a month. Had it not been thicker than average, I would have tossed it without thinking.


Probably a good idea, but OTOH they may have gone too far over to the side of nondescript packaging.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 18, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

So -
Perez on the 20th, 25th, and 30th (OD);
Patterson - 21st, 26th, 31 (as has been his schedule all Spring);

But - how does Redding, Bergmann, and Hill work out?
Hill, if healthy, goes 22d - 55 pitches? and 27th - 70? and on 4/2, with normal rest?
Bergmann - Minor leaguers 19th, Majors on 24th, O's (Team in Between) on 3/29, and reuglar season on 4/3?
Redding - 18th, 23d, some work on 3/29, then when? 4/4? or 4/6?

Do they throw Chico some to get extra days off for others? If Chico goes once, 4/23, then maybe OD is Bergmann, with Perez and/or Patterson pushed back?

Posted by: PTBNL | March 18, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I also like the Navy Yard idea (although I would personally choose to refrain from any moniker with the word "yard" in it, so as not to invite comparisons to our AL rivals to the north).

Do you guys remember back in, I think, 2006, when the possibility was floating around that the Army was going to buy naming rights to RFK? The idea was that the field, during Nats games, would be called "US Army Field at RFK Stadium."

For some reason - I'm guessing price - that idea fell through. But honestly, if someone from the Nationals isn't calling the Navy to see if they can get something like this together, it's an oversight, for sure.

US Navy Field at Nationals Park?

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 18, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for calling it "Navy Yard." Camden Yards got its name because of the Camden railroad yards that it was built on. It gave it a nice historical connection a stadium otherwise would lack.

Likewise, our new stadium will be built at the Navy Yard and should bear that name.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 18, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone received their parking passes?

Posted by: Sec. 306 | March 18, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone received their parking passes?

Posted by: Sec. 306 | March 18, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Barry - nice article about Dukes. I hope his minor injury doesn't turn into a major one and he gets to show his stuff on the field. It is also good to hear that the Nats are willing to put money into their players beyond the weekly paycheck. Hiring a mentor/life coach-type person for players is great and seems to be required in some cases.

Posted by: Patty | March 18, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

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