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Two weeks till Nationals Park opens

Skipped the trip to Ft. Lauderdale, thus saving myself five hours in the car. O's writer Marc Carig will babysit John Patterson's start for me, so we'll be well-informed in the $.35/.$50-edition tomorrow.

Sitting here at Space Coast Stadium, where the guys who didn't make the trip took BP and worked out. Talked with Shawn Hill about his 30-pitch bullpen session from yesterday. I watched it (or "spied on it," as he says) and thought he kept the ball low and looked good. In the notebook this morning, Wil Nieves, who caught the session, raved about it.

Hill, a day later, is also happy. "To be perfectly honest, I feel better today than I thought I would," he said. There was some tightness in his forearm, he said, "but no pain. It wasn't 100 percent. But it was completely something I could pitch with. And today, I feel better than yesterday. I was shocked."

The next step: Another bullpen session tomorrow. The staff is trying to keep a full schedule from Hill because they want to monitor him closely. If Monday's bullpen session goes well, then the likely next step would be to throw live batting practice on Thursday. Hill, however, might try to talk himself into that game Thursday.

Hill's development could help sort out some other stuff. Right now, Odalis Perez and John Lannan pitch on the same day, and Jason Bergmann and Matt Chico pitch on the same day. Bergmann and Chico, in fact, are on the sheet in the Nats clubhouse at HSCS as pitching back-to-back on Wednesday -- the Nationals' only scheduled off day. Thus, they'll throw in a minor league game that day.

Does this mean that, if Hill is healthy, that both Lannan and Chico go to the minors? It definitely could. Both have options. That would leave the rotation as -- and this doesn't count for order -- John Patterson, Tim Redding, Jason Bergmann, Odalis Perez (who I wrote about this morning) and Shawn Hill. There is a small chance that Hill will still push himself into that Opening Night start, but the more realistic scenario would have him waiting to start until April 6 in St. Louis -- the first time the Nats play five games in a row.

If that's the case, then the club wouldn't have to bring back anyone on short rest. The Opening Night starter would pitch the Friday night in St. Louis, the pitcher who faced Philadelphia on March 31 would then come back to pitch Saturday, April 5 in St. Louis, and Hill would be feathered in after that. Right now, Patterson is lined up to be the start in Philadelphia on March 31, the Nats' second game and the opener for the Phillies.

This is going to be an intriguing week as some of this gets fleshed out. Tomorrow morning, I'll post my thoughts on the 25-man roster. I think I have a fairly clear view, but there are some things to be determined, no doubt.

Enjoy Selection Sunday. Still bitter about the Clemson game, but I'll try to get over it.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 16, 2008; 12:35 PM ET
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Next: Patterson: I felt tight


If Hill breaks camp with the team, do you think they will go with a 12 man staff? In the NL, that's a slim bench. OK, in at least one sense, maybe not so slim if Dmitri and Belli are on the pine, but 12 would likely mean 4 OFs, not 5.

Posted by: PTBNL | March 16, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I can't waith for George W. Bush to throw out the first pitch and for everyone to boo that bum. This guy is the biggest moron ever and the Nats are going to let this clown throw out the first pitch?

He probably think's he's throwing out the first pitch there so we don't have to fight them here at home. Or he thinks the ball will be greeted as a liberator. Or he thinks the pitch, along with the oil, with pay for the war all by itself. He'll also pardon the ball for outing a CIA spy. Or maybe he'll think the ball is doing a heck of a job. Maybe Bush thinks he can learn the strike zone by using The Google.


Posted by: Liberal Larry | March 16, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Not to turn this into a political debate, Lib Larry, but be happy you live in a country where you CAN boo the president and not have to worry about being shot by the Military.

I, for one would cheer Bush (the president and not necessarily the man). He has ajob that I wouldn't place on my worst enemy.

Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal. We're all Americans.

Posted by: American first, Republican second | March 16, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Just sitting here watching the game on MASN. Patterson got knocked around in the 3rd, but if Cota comes up with that throw maybe things are different.

Maybe I'm a MASN cynic (I still begrudge them that first year fiasco), but is it a coincidence that the O's announce team is doing the game and all of their regulars seem to be in the lineup? Haven't heard them hawking tickets yet but that can't be too far behind. As you can tell I'm a DC guy and NOT a Baltimore guy. And Angelos will never win my Nobel Prize.

Posted by: Lee | March 16, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"O's writer Marc Carig will babysit John Patterson's start for me, so we'll be well-informed in the $.35/.$50-edition tomorrow."

Great. Not only do we get to listen to the Orioles' announcers not tell us anything about Patterson's worrisome start today on Mister Angelos's Sports Network, tomorrow we'll get an Orioles-centric take on it in Senor Garcia-Ruiz's Redskins Rag. Just keep repeating your mantra, everyone. The coverage is fine.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | March 16, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

So clearly Patterson is no good. Can't we just trash him?

And this Lopez at SS thing is obviously a theme - has he played one game at 2nd? I don't know how things will shake out but I do know they obviously have no intention of him playing 2nd.

Posted by: Harry GoNats | March 16, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Well said, "American first, Republican second." Leave it to a Republican to show class and a Leftist to show his ass.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 16, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm just watching on the limited version of Gameday, so I don't enough to really evaluate performances. Can anyone fill me in on whether JP was really as bad as he looks from where I'm sitting?

Posted by: Boston | March 16, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't look good today. Patterson is pitching poorly. My daughter just asked me why they are showing an Orioles commercial in Virginia. I missed the beginning of the game because my son's friend had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese (shudder). At least it was a good set of adults perservering there together.

Arnie Munoz just lost a ground ball in the sun.

At least Jayson Stark ran a column calling the O's one of the 3 worst teams this year, with one scout saying they wouldn't win for at least 5 years. The Nats weren't one of the 3 (I know, I know, it is not like predictions from last year meant anything).

Still, with the score now 8-0, I am really glad this game doesn't count for anything.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 16, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Munoz was already demoted to minor league camp. The way he is pitching right now, they might want to drop him another level in the minors.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 16, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"Can anyone fill me in on whether JP was really as bad as he looks from where I'm sitting?"

Well, I saw it on the TV, but as I said the announcers were talking about the Orioles the whole time so all I have to go on are my visual impressions. His curve looked good, but it didn't seem like he was blowing anyone away with the fastball. (No radar gun, apparently.) Eventually the batters started figuring out the curve, and the hits started coming. Most of them were pretty solid hits, too. Overall, my impression is not good at all. I wonder how the O's beat writer will see it?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | March 16, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Returned from sunny Florida to sunny South Carolina today after watching the Nats for 3 games in Viera. A little disappointing that the timing of my trip didn't allow me to see Zimm or WMP, but otherwise the trip was enjoyable. DY looked good batting, though he needs to drop some lbs. HSCS is a nice place to watch a game.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | March 16, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Patterson is a real concern. His body language says it all - he just looks goofy out there - not dominant. His breaking ball is predictable - as are the results.

He was sharp the first 2 innings, at least results wise - but the Orioles just had to see he was relying on the curve and then teed off.

Not good.

Hill-Perez-Bergman-Redding-Chico works for me.

Posted by: Harry GoNats | March 16, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I'll be sorry to see Garrett Guzman go. Tha was a nice home run shot.

Lopez and Belliard follow with singles. Cabrera is done. 8-2

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 16, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

On Patterson, while he didn't look good today, I'm hoping he hasn't shown his fastball 100% yet. If he has...he hasn't got one, ouch.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | March 16, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The Times sent their Nats beat writer to the game.

but if I read the Nats coverage from that paper, Moonie is going to eat my brains. I'll stay here and read the Orioles beat writer's take on it. at least I won't be brainwashed by reading the Post.

Posted by: Paranoia | March 16, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Dose Nick jonson look really small or is it just me im watching the game on tv and he looks like he is five?

Posted by: j-dog | March 16, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Odd. When the Nats play badly we devolve into conversations on religion and politics, apparently.

Willie Harris hasn't hit for a lick, but his versatility in the field is pretty intriguing.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 16, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Patterson looked unhappy and that is always a tell tale sign with him.....Nothing on his fastball and after what 4 outings of 85 MPH fastballs is looked like the word is out to just guess curve and if you guess wrong you can still pound the 85 MPM fastball......For a month Barry has been telling us how good he feels and how much Hope he has.....right Barry, that reporting sure was helpful.....My guess is the DL by the start of the year. He is going to get shelled with this stuff.

Posted by: JayB | March 16, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Is Bush really throwing out the first pitch?

Increased security = Bigger mess. Does the team really need the President to clog things up even more on opening night?

Posted by: Bush on OD? Seriously? | March 16, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Patterson now has an ERA of 7. I think he's done. I wonder if Manny is starting to agree. I am not sure that the disabled list would do any good any more. It is starting to seem like the best thing to do would be to simply release the guy.

I think the time for straight answers is coming, JayB. Before long there will be no more logical reason to keep up the facade of Spring Training optimism. We may see more of the young guys to start the season than we thought.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 16, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

If you go to the Nationals' official web site, and read the article on Willie Harris, it becomes clear why he is not hitting that well this spring. If you look at the picture that accompanies the story, you will see that Harris is swinging a toothpick not long enough to extend over the plate.

It seems the folks running the site chose a picture in which Harris has just taken a swing which broke his bat. Idiots.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 16, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

outside of 1 or 2 really good curveballs, Patterson did not look impressive at all. he NEEDS his fastball, and no matter how much positive spin is put on things in the Post and by the Team, Patterson WILL NOT get by throwing sub-90s fastballs. he's not a junkball kind of pitcher. He needs to be throwing it 92-94 like he used to. If he *can't* do that with regularity, then the team needs to know now so that they can plan for not having him in the lineup.

I'd say that in his next start, the team needs to have him show exactly what he's got, and if he can't get his fastball up in the mid-90s then the team should start looking at some of the younger pitchers for potentially replacing him.

Posted by: MrMadison | March 16, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Patterson has been battling the flu for the better part of a week, and he said it felt like he was "throwing a bowling ball." The problem, he said, wasn't with his forearm, which gave him trouble all last year. Rather, he felt stiff everywhere else.

"I didn't feel good all day," he said. "I didn't warm up very well. I felt tight. It was just one of those days where I pushed and did the best I could with what I had."

Posted by: WTimes on site reporting | March 16, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Same old Same Old....Always something...If Acta was Buying it then I do not think he would have sent him out there for 4 innings

Posted by: JayB | March 16, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

You actually read some Nats Coverage from the Times? You are braver than me. Is it true that they take the brains of innocent Post Readers and give them to Moonie so he can personally dip them in acid?

Posted by: Paranoid Post Reader | March 16, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they simply start Patterson in the minors so he can build arm strength there?

In the meantime, I'd be more comfortable with one of the younger guys like Lannan or even Hanrahan.

Posted by: Ashburn | March 16, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

For once I agree with you JayB. It's always something with JP.

Though I don't doubt he's doing his best and I do feel bad for him, I'm sad to say he is likely out of excuses and chances.
Same old Same Old....Always something...
Posted by: JayB | March 16, 2008 03:14 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | March 16, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

So, JP looks like crap again today. I say let him start the year in Columbus to see if that fastball does pick up any speed. Remember OD last year? The balls were flying out of RFK. He said then that his fastball speed would pick up after a few games. Hmmmmm.

Posted by: 6th and D | March 16, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

the patterson equation seems to be, how soon can he get back into the lower-mid 90s with his fastball? those who say he hasn't yet are, of course, correct. those who say he cannot are speculating as much as those who say he will. this is one of those famous 'unknown unknowns.' considering the upside potential, if he manages to build back arm strength over the next three weeks, isn't it too soon to say 'he's done' or 'his recovery is a failure'? the presumption has to be that he will increase arm strength as he comes along. the question has to be, 'how soon?' and the only answer we know for sure is, 'not yet.' as for moon poisoning people's brains, he doesn't have to do it by hand. that's what he has writers for.

Posted by: natty bumppo | March 16, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I am starting to watch a few minutes of the Cubs game on WGN. The TV station is clearly in Spring Training, as well. They titled their opponents' lineup as the "Los Angeles Angeles".

That does have a ring to it, and it is hispanically correct, but I believe they didn't do it on purpose.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 16, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

all we can hope for on OD, as far as bush goes, is that they learned at least a few lessons from OD in 2005. that was the worst security clustersomething i've seen in a long time. 47k+ being funneled through *4* security lines, with everyone having to empty their pockets and go through metal detectors. not surprising that there were probably 10K empty seats at the first pitch. we got there almost 2 hours early and barely got to our seats for the ceremonies.

as far as the political cr@p, neither left or right has a chokehold on classlessness or tackiness. there are plenty on both sides willing to be idiots.

Posted by: 231 | March 16, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Day of first....I agree with 231!

Posted by: JayB | March 16, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Manny's letting Patterson make the decisions for him. Can he get the fastball to 92? Can he win if he can't? The results will be there by the end of ST. The Nats won't take him north if he doesn't prove he can win major league ballgames. If he can't, do they keep him in some sort of extended ST, send him to Columbus, or something else? I can't believe after all these years they'd throw him overboard if there were any chance he'd come around at some point this year.

Posted by: Geezer | March 16, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Doubt JP can be sent to Columbus without clearing waivers. He has 4+ years of time in the majors.

Posted by: PTBNL | March 16, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

And oh yeah, let Shrub throw out the first pitch. Doubt I'd even boo. Presidential openers are a great tradition, hope they're a regular event. It's about the ceremony of the office, not the stature of the current occupant.

Posted by: Geezer | March 16, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Let's keep our boos in our pockets on opening night or future presidents may not want to make the trip over to the ballpark. Save the protestations for Lafayette Square.

Posted by: 6th and D | March 16, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Home Run Derby ( predicted the Nats as 2008's worst team in baseball. And we all thought we were getting better! Things are now looking dire. It really does come down to pitching, pitching, pitching... We need a miracle from Hill. We need JP to get a fast ball. We need Chico to pull himself together... Is it possible that last year's starters were better than the 2008 assemblage?

Posted by: Kamau | March 16, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

not that i didn't figure homerunderby was clueless already, but this clinched it...

"My guess is it will be a hitters park (most new parks are), and that should add to this team's struggles."

so... you're basing at least part of your analysis on a "guess" (a likely incorrect one, since most predict that, at worst, it will be even)...

and then this doozy...

"There will be no roundtable for this team as Sky and I could not find an interested blogger for the Nationals. "

i.e., you didn't even bother to look.

yep, can you say, "i just read what a couple of other people said, then took the worst of it all and predicted that."

he's clueless.

i'm not predicting over 500 or playoffs or any pie-in-the-sky stuff, but this guy didn't even bother doing his homework.

Posted by: 231 | March 16, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Let's wait till JP loses a few games, like last year, before we send him down.
Ah, sorry! I still haven't got over the fact he wouldn't sign with the Expos when they drafted him in the first place. I am so petty at times.

Posted by: Jeeves | March 16, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Jeeves, been meaning to ask: that wouldn't be Mahatma Kane Jeeves, would it?

Posted by: MIB | March 16, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

liberal larry go kill yourself

Posted by: Anonymous | March 16, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

"Let's keep our boos in our pockets on opening night or future presidents may not want to make the trip over to the ballpark. Save the protestations for Lafayette Square."

Exactly. As much as I didn't like Bill Clinton, I respect the Office, and wouldn't boo the man out in a public event. A ballpark is no place for a political protest, or a baseball blog for that matter. Get a life people or move to France.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 17, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

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