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Nationals Notebook

Robinson Livens Things Up

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 25, 2005; Page D04

VIERA, Fla., Feb. 24 -- With the drudgery of spring training well underway, the Washington Nationals tried something novel the past two days -- having live pitchers throw to live hitters.

"You're not trying to do too much," right-hander Zach Day said. "But it's good to do it, to get out on a mound and try a few things."

Nationals pitcher Zach Day throws live batting practice Thursday. (Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)

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Starters threw 30 pitches, relievers 20. And the pitchers, who held their first workout Feb. 15, are well ahead of the hitters, most of whom have been in camp only since Tuesday. Manager Frank Robinson called it a "necessary evil" for hitters.

"It's torture, really, is what it is," Robinson said. "They're not ready yet. . . . They haven't seen the balls coming more than 40-50 mph."

Announcers Get Ready

New Nationals radio announcers Charlie Slowes and Dave Shea said they didn't know who will handle the bulk of play-by-play duties for the new team. Slowes said he thinks the work would be split fairly evenly between play-by-play and analysis.

The duo will call its first game on March 5, when the Nationals face the Orioles. Slowes, who called Washington Bullets games for 11 years before serving with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for seven, and Shea, who was the Boston Bruins' television announcer and has worked baseball for the Boston and Pawtucket Red Sox, will arrive next week to learn the personalities and the roster.

"I've been kind of brushing up," Slowes said.

The club's next task is finishing a television deal, which is caught up in MLB's negotiations with Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Nationals President Tony Tavares, who said he received hundreds of applications for the radio jobs, said Wednesday the announcers for TV will come soon after a deal is reached.

"Once I get the green light, I will move very quickly," Tavares said.

Armas to Start Wednesday

Robinson said righty Tony Armas, perhaps the key to the rotation, will start the first exhibition game, which comes Wednesday against the New York Mets. Armas, who finally appears fully recovered from shoulder surgery in May 2003, is only scheduled to throw two innings.

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