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Nationals Notebook

Day Has a Pretty Good Night

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 17, 2005; Page D03

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 16 -- Zach Day said he didn't approach Wednesday's start against the Atlanta Braves as much more than a normal spring training game -- even though his ERA in two previous appearances was 9.00, and he clearly is in a battle to keep his spot in the starting rotation.

"I haven't been too hard on myself -- yet," Day said.

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Day had nothing to be hard on himself about after Wednesday's outing. He pitched five innings and allowed one run, four hits and no walks, by far his best outing of the spring.

Since getting shelled in his last start, Day has spent time in the bullpen with pitching coach Randy St. Claire, as well as looking at videotape of his mechanics. He said he was "over-striding" in his previous starts.

"If I'm comfortable out there, and everything goes right mechanically, [then] mentally, I'm comfortable with everything," Day said. "It was just a matter of having it click."

Broadway Hits the Road

The Nationals optioned first baseman Larry Broadway and right-hander Danny Rueckel to Class AAA New Orleans and right-hander Darrell Rasner to Class AA Harrisburg.

Broadway, the team's top hitting prospect, said he expected the move. Manager Frank Robinson said this should be part of the natural development for Broadway, who hit .231 this spring.The club also placed infielder Henry Mateo, who is still recovering from a surgically repaired right shoulder, and right-hander Claudio Vargas, who has a sprained elbow, on the 15-day disabled list. The Nationals reassigned catchers John Wilson and Hector Ortiz to minor league camp. . . .

Atlanta right-hander John Smoltz, who is back in the rotation after saving 144 games over the past three seasons, shut out the Nationals over four innings, allowing three singles. . . .

Outfielder Brad Wilkerson played for the first time since Saturday, when he tweaked his back. He singled and doubled, and said he feels better.

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