Patterson, Bowden Differ On Approach

The Washington Post's Barry Svrluga outlines the major storylines and position battles in spring training for the Washington Nationals. Video: Jonathan Forsythe/washingtonpost.comPhotos: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 3, 2008

KISSIMMEE, Fla., March 2 -- A day after potential Opening Day starter John Patterson said he did not go all-out in his first outing of the spring so that he could refine his mechanics, General Manager Jim Bowden said he would prefer for Patterson to establish his fastball and build arm strength.

"I was just glad that he took the mound and he got his first outing out of the way," Bowden said of Patterson, who has been limited to 15 starts the past two years by a series of arm injuries. "That being said, he was trying to get them out. He threw too many breaking balls. He cut his arm off. He had very short arm action.

"My preference would be, 'Let's establish the fastball and build up arm strength and get hit.' "

Bowden stressed that in his bullpen sessions, Patterson has let the ball go and extended himself more, giving his fastball more jump. But after his two-inning outing against the Baltimore Orioles, Patterson said he preferred to tweak his mechanics before unleashing his best fastball in games. He said his stride was about six inches shorter than it would be normally -- 5 1/2 feet as opposed to six. He also said he is working to get his hand in the right position on the ball at his release point.

Milledge Leads Hit Parade

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, outfielder Wily Mo Pe¿a and second baseman Ronnie Belliard all homered -- the Nationals' first of the spring -- in an 8-3 victory over Houston on Sunday. Lastings Milledge, hitting in front of Zimmerman in the lineup, went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBI.

"Lastings might drive them all in before I get the chance," Zimmerman said. . . .

Right-hander Garrett Mock, who started against Baltimore in Fort Lauderdale, was the victim of poor defense in allowing three runs -- only one earned -- in 1 2/3 innings. Shortstop Cristian Guzm¿n couldn't retire Jay Payton on a play that was ruled an infield single, and outfielder Elijah Dukes dropped a fly ball. The Nationals lost, 11-10, when reliever Jim Ed Warden gave up two runs in the ninth. . . .

Left-hander Mike O'Connor, who spent all of last year injured or in the minors, gave up a run in 2 2/3 innings against the Astros, but struck out three.

Staff writer Mark Carig contributed to this report from Fort Lauderdale.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company