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Patterson Is 'Tight,' Then Gets Shelled

By Barry Svrluga and Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 17, 2008

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 16 -- Washington Nationals right-hander John Patterson, trying to build arm strength after a season in which he made only seven starts, allowed six runs in four innings in an 11-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles and said his entire body felt "tight" afterward.

"I didn't feel good all day today," said Patterson, who has been dealing with flu-like symptoms for more than a week. "Warming up in the bullpen, I didn't warm up very well. I just didn't feel very good. I felt tight and my body, I was just not going. It's one of those days where I pushed and did the best I could with what I had."

Patterson retired the first six men he faced, but struggled thereafter. He had allowed just one run in his first five official innings this spring, and it's clear he is still building the arm strength to allow his fastball to reach its normal velocity. Club officials maintain they are less concerned with Patterson's velocity than with his arm action.

"I'll throw fastballs sometimes, and the ball will just go, 'Boom!' " Patterson said. "I'm not throwing 92 miles an hour, 93 miles an hour right now, but I've thrown balls at times that have really good late life on them. . . . When I have that late life on the ball, it makes it look harder and I locate that pitch.

"Then there's times when I throw a fastball -- ugh, it's like throwing a bowling ball up there sometimes."

Patterson said he is comfortable pitching through the issue, and that only his forearm -- on which he had nerve decompression surgery last year, wasn't tight Sunday.

Hill Feels Good

The Nationals were pleased with Shawn Hill's bullpen session Saturday, but they wanted to wait till Sunday to assess how he felt before planning the next step in his comeback from forearm soreness. The report: Excellent.

"To be perfectly honest, I feel better today than I thought I would," Hill said at the Nationals' complex in Viera. "I had some tightness in there, but no pain. I wasn't 100 percent, but it was completely something I could pitch with."

Hill is scheduled to throw another bullpen session Monday. If that goes well, he could throw live batting practice Thursday. Still, Manager Manny Acta said, "It's going to be very tough for him to be ready for the first week of the season -- very tough."

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