Rookie Told Not to Fear Slugger

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 6, 2007

Washington Nationals left-hander John Lannan has been in the major leagues for all of two weeks, will be making his third major league start tonight, and the fourth batter he faces, in all likelihood, will be the man trying to break the most hallowed record in sports. So what will his pitching coach, Randy St. Claire, tell Lannan -- heretofore best known for breaking the hand of Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley -- before he pitches to Barry Bonds?

"Not one word," St. Claire said.

Manager Manny Acta said his philosophy with the 22-year-old Lannan will be simple: "How you doin', John?" Acta said he might say to Lannan. "Go get 'em."

The point, both Acta and St. Claire said, is to make the situation seem normal -- even if it's anything but.

"The minute he steps on that mound and [Bonds] steps into that batter's box, anything you tell him is gone," St. Claire said. "That's going to be an emotional at-bat for him. Just as much as we say it's no big deal if you give up 756, no pitcher wants to give up that 756th home run. . . . I mean, if you look at it, he's got 755 against a lot better pitchers than that kid. It's really no big deal. But still, you don't want to be that guy."

Lannan, who began the year at Class A Potomac, celebrated his seventh birthday on Sept. 27, 1991 -- the day Bonds hit his 141st homer, a three-run shot for Pittsburgh against the Nationals' predecessors, the Montreal Expos.

"I really don't think about who you're facing," Lannan said. "Of course you know who you're facing. But really, it's bigger than that. I'm just going out there to try and get a win for the team."

Hill to Rehab at Columbus

Right-hander Shawn Hill, fresh off his four-inning, no-hit start for Class A Potomac on Friday, likely will start Wednesday for Class AAA Columbus, which is hosting Durham. Acta said Hill, who has been on the disabled list since May 14 with left shoulder and right elbow problems, will be back in the Washington rotation when the team returns from its seven-game road trip.

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