Zimmerman Meeting Is 'Positive'

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 5, 2007

VIERA, Fla., March 4 -- Ryan Zimmerman and his agent met with top officials from the Washington Nationals on Sunday morning, a meeting that Zimmerman described as "positive" but which didn't result in a contract for the team's star third baseman.

"We weren't going to decide on anything in one day," Zimmerman said. "It was basically to talk. Talk is good. Everything is positive. There's nothing negative going on. No one's upset at each other and arguing or anything like that."

Zimmerman is entering his second full season in the majors, and the club is under no obligation to strike a lucrative deal with him. He will not become eligible for arbitration until after the 2008 season, and wouldn't be a free agent until after the 2011 season.

Team president Stan Kasten, who attended the meeting along with General Manager Jim Bowden and Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo, has a policy of not commenting on -- or even acknowledging -- contract negotiations. But it remains possible that the Nationals will strike a multiyear contract with Zimmerman.

Zimmerman said nothing substantive was determined Sunday, and that the process seemed to be more about making him feel comfortable.

"They're smart baseball people," Zimmerman said. "They keep it kind of relaxed."

Zimmerman went 2 for 3 in Sunday's 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and is now 6 for 8 on the spring. He'll have his first day off Monday.

"It is exciting when your best hitter in the lineup is ready in the third game of the Grapefruit League," Manager Manny Acta said.

Chico on the Mark

Left-hander Matt Chico threw three impressive innings against the Dodgers, allowing only one hit while striking out two. A contender to make the rotation at 23, Chico has been working on a mechanical adjustment since he arrived at spring training -- stepping more on a straight line toward home plate -- and he said he still isn't quite comfortable.

"I've been going the other way my whole life," he said. "It's making me force my fastball inside to a righty more." . . . First baseman Travis Lee, who hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game because of a strained oblique muscle, took batting practice Sunday and said he will likely get a couple of at-bats in the team's minor league camp Monday. His first game could come Tuesday. . . . Catcher Juan Brito was the offensive star, going 2 for 3 with a homer and three RBI. . . . Sunday was a split-squad day, and the Nationals lost, 9-2, to Houston in Kissimmee. Mike Bacsik gave up six runs in 1 2/3 innings

Pitcher of the Day Chico helped his chances in his three-inning outing. He didn't throw his curveball, sticking with the fastball, slider and change-up. "He didn't show any fear, which is good," Acta said. Up Next vs. Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

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