Team Prevails Over Patterson in Arbitration Ruling

By Barry Svrluga and Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

VIERA, Fla., Feb. 13 -- The Washington Nationals prevailed Tuesday in an arbitration case over their presumptive ace, right-hander John Patterson.

A three-member panel in Phoenix ruled that Patterson -- who went 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA last season -- should earn $850,000, not the $1.85 million for which he had asked. He made $450,000 last season.

General Manager Jim Bowden declined to comment on the case, which brought major league teams' record to a perfect 4-0 over players this offseason. Patterson -- who did not come to Space Coast Stadium on Tuesday (players are required only to call in) -- said he would discuss the case and his upcoming season Wednesday.

Cordero's Case on Deck

Closer Chad Cordero is the Nationals' remaining arbitration case, and his hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday. But Cordero said his agent talked to the club last week about the possibility of striking a long-term deal.

"I'd like to get something done," he said. "I don't know if they're willing to do something, but I'd like to."

Cordero, who made $525,000 last season, has asked for $4.15 million in the first year he is eligible for arbitration; the club countered with an offer of $3.65 million. He said he would remain unfazed even if his case isn't settled before the hearing.

"It's part of the business," he said. "If you have to go through it, you have to go through it. A lot of players do. You'd rather not, but I'm not worried about it."

Ayala Feeling 'Great' in Return

It's safe to say that no one here took as much pleasure in the simple act of playing long toss as did Luis Ayala, the right-handed reliever who missed all of the 2006 season after an elbow injury suffered during the World Baseball Classic required ligament replacement surgery.

"I feel great," Ayala said. "I worked all offseason to come [into camp] in shape."

Ayala stopped short of saying he was 100 percent healthy, and both Manager Manny Acta and Bowden said they would bring Ayala along slowly. But Ayala said he sees no reason why he won't be able to reclaim his position as one of Cordero's top setup men.

"I'm trying to get my position [back]. I lost one year," he said. "But the most important thing is to feel good." . . .

Seven players failed to reach camp Tuesday because of visa problems: pitchers Jesus Colome, Felix Diaz, Anastacio Martinez, Luis Martinez, Arnie Muñoz, Eduardo Valdez and catcher Juan Brito. None is on the 40-man roster.

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