Nationals Notebook

Williams to Wait Because of Rain

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 17, 2007

VIERA, Fla., March 16 -- The Washington Nationals made a four-hour, round-trip bus ride on Friday to Winter Haven, Fla., to take batting practice and eat lunch. The rest of the day was a washout, with rain canceling the scheduled 12:35 p.m. game against the Cleveland Indians, meaning right-hander Jerome Williams will have to wait until Saturday to make his latest bid for a starting rotation job.

Williams, one of a half-dozen pitchers in the running for the three rotations jobs still open -- John Patterson and Shawn Hill are locked in, with Jason Simontacchi the heavy favorite for the third spot -- will now start Saturday at Port St. Lucie, Fla., against the New York Mets.

Right-hander Joel Hanrahan, who is also a rotation candidate, was Saturday's scheduled starter but will now pitch in a "B" game instead. Patterson remains lined up to pitch Sunday in what will be just his second appearance of the spring against a big league opponent.

The pool of rotation candidates was reduced by one Friday when the team reassigned right-hander Colby Lewis to minor league camp. Lewis threw in a minor league intrasquad game Friday, then made plans to fly home to Bakersfield, Calif., where his wife, Jenny, who is expecting their first child, is to be induced this weekend.

Also contending are right-handers Tim Redding and Jason Bergmann and lefty Matt Chico.

Roster Is Trimmed

Also on Friday's cut list were pitchers Emiliano Fruto, Beltran Perez and Chris Schroder, all of whom were optioned to Class AAA; and pitchers Winston Abreu and Arnie Muñoz, catchers Danny Ardoin and Brandon Harper, and outfielder Jose Macias, who were reassigned to minor league camp. . . .

Veteran third baseman Tony Batista, signed to a minor league contract in February, is expected to depart for his native Dominican Republic early next week to secure his work visa -- without which, by law, he cannot participate in games for which tickets are sold. When he returns, the team is expected to bring him to big league camp. But Batista has been told to expect to start the season in Class AAA Columbus.

Pitcher of the Day Right-hander Colten Willems, one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, has been shut down for about a week because of tightness in his back but, according to Vice President of Player Development Bob Boone, is set to return to the mound in the next day or two. Up Next vs. Mets at Port St. Lucie, 1:10 p.m., WTWP (107.7 FM, 1500 AM).

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