By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 9, 2007
VIERA, Fla., March 8 -- Only a few fans were around when John Patterson took the mound at 10 a.m. Thursday. "It's a little more relaxed down here," Patterson said.
"Down here" is at the Washington Nationals' minor league complex down the road from Space Coast Stadium. Patterson made his second appearance of spring training, albeit in a minor league intrasquad game. The Nationals' apparent ace didn't participate in the club's 12-5 Grapefruit League win over the Houston Astros later in the day so Manager Manny Acta could better evaluate Jason Simontacchi and Jason Bergmann.
Patterson didn't need much evaluating. He retired all 12 hitters he faced over four innings, striking out five and throwing just 39 pitches, 28 of them strikes.
"That was the best I've felt," he said. He used a sharp curveball on a couple of his strikeouts, and said he threw two change-ups. "I have confidence with it," he said of his fourth pitch.
Patterson's next outing falls on Tuesday, the Nationals' only off day, so he will again throw against the minor leaguers. His next Grapefruit League appearance will be March 18 against Florida.Williams Replaces Dunn
The Nationals named Bobby Williams as director of player development, replacing Andy Dunn, who resigned last month. Williams had managed in Class A for the Nationals the past two seasons, and was supposed to serve as a coach at Class AAA this season. He said he had to consider leaving the field after seven seasons in pro ball.
"That's where my heart's been," Williams said.
Mark Scialabba, who has served as an assistant in the baseball operations department, was named Williams's assistant. The two will oversee the administration of the farm system and work closely with Bob Boone, who is vice president of player development.Zimmerman's Contract
Brodie Van Wagenen, the agent for third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, had a brief meeting with General Manager Jim Bowden on Thursday morning. Zimmerman is the only National who remains unsigned; per terms of the collective bargaining agreement, he must be under contract by Sunday.
Van Wagenen declined to comment on the talks, other than to say, "Everything's still positive." The Nationals have discussed the possibility of a multiyear contract with Zimmerman. . . .
The first round of cuts included veteran infielder Tony Womack, 37, who was released. Outfielder Frank Diaz was optioned to Class AAA Columbus and lefty Mike Hinckley was optioned to Class AA Harrisburg.
Ten players were reassigned to minor league camp -- infielders Tony Blanco and Melvin Dorta, outfielders Wayne Lydon and George Lombard, first baseman Jorge Toca and pitchers Felix Diaz, Anastacio Martinez, Eduardo Valdez, Luis Martinez and Bill White.
Pitcher of the Day Jason Bergmann, who has been used as both a starter and reliever in his career, pitched three scoreless innings and is in the running for a spot in the rotation. "I'm not here to start or relieve," he said. "I'm here to pitch in any capacity." Up Next vs. Baltimore at Fort Lauderdale, 1 p.m., MASN