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Nationals Notebook

Looking Brighter for Day

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page D06

VIERA, Fla., March 21 -- Washington Nationals Manager Frank Robinson said Monday that right-hander Zach Day almost certainly will be the club's fifth starter.

Though Robinson said "things could change" over the final two weeks of spring training, he doesn't expect them to. Day allowed two hits and one walk while striking out three in five shutout innings Monday in a 1-0 win over the Florida Marlins.

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"He's not doing anything to take himself out of that spot," Robinson said.

Monday's outing lowered his spring ERA from 5.40 to 3.60. After allowing five runs in his first five innings, Day has allowed one run on six hits over his past 10 innings. He was helped Monday by a breeze blowing in at Space Coast Stadium that helped keep well-hit balls from Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley in the park.

He said he is unfazed by any perceived competition for the fifth starter's job. "I just want to get myself right," Day said. "I'm not worried about what anybody else does. I have faith in what I can do."

Right-hander John Patterson, the best candidate had Day stumbled, is recovering from tightness in his right hip flexor.

Scouting Report

The Nationals will send Bob Boone and Jose Cardenal, two of General Manager Jim Bowden's top advisers, to scout Atlanta Braves infielder Wilson Betemit on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds have sent scouts to the Nationals' minor league camp to see if they might find someone they like enough to trade for outfielder Wily Mo Peña, who the Nationals have scouted extensively this spring. . . . The club optioned infielder Brendan Harris to Class AAA New Orleans and reassigned third baseman George Arias and right-hander Hector Carrasco. Arias and Carrasco will report to New Orleans as well. . . . Center fielder Endy Chavez was scratched from Monday's lineup with left elbow tendinitis. Third baseman Vinny Castilla (hyperextended left knee) and Chavez likely won't return until Friday.

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