VIERA, Fla., Feb. 20 -- Washington Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden has been on the fields and particularly in the bullpen regularly during the first four days of workouts for pitchers and catchers. He has paid a tremendous amount of attention to two of the team's most promising young pitchers, lefty Mike Hinckley and right-hander Darrell Rasner.
"These are guys I physically haven't seen before," Bowden said. "I need time to evaluate them. I need to see their arm angles, how they approach things."
Hinckley was the franchise's minor league pitcher of the year last season, and because the team has no left-handers in the current rotation, he might have an outside shot at making the club. Rasner has a wicked curveball and showed promise at both Class A and AA ball last season. The pair is well aware of Bowden's presence.
"You know he's there," Rasner said, "but we can block it out. We just have to go about our work."
Still, Bowden can be difficult to block out. Saturday, with Bowden standing almost right next to him, Hinckley completely lost the grip on one pitch, and the ball fell at his side.
"I think it's cool that he's watching," Hinckley said. "But you have to act kind of like it's a game, maybe step off the mound and take a breath. When you're in a game, you have to block out the crowd. This is kind of the same thing."
Washington Redskins kick returner Chad Morton made an appearance in the clubhouse and at the workout. Morton is friends with Wiemi Douoghui, one of the Nationals' team physicians who used to work with the Redskins. Morton, who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament Oct. 31, is rehabilitating the injury in Miami. "It's going really good," he said. "I'm well ahead of the norm." . . . Livan Hernandez's 30th birthday was Sunday, and he was greeted in the clubhouse with a cake.