Nationals Notes

Skipping WBC Gives Pitcher Shairon Martis a Longer Stint With the Washington Nationals

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 15, 2009

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., March 14 -- Shairon Martis sat in the visitors' clubhouse at Tradition Field, his eyes squarely fixed on the Netherlands against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Last time the Dutch played in this tournament, Martis was a hero, spinning a seven-inning no-hitter against Panama. On Saturday afternoon, though, he was a spectator -- without regrets.

"I made a good decision, because right now I'm doing good," Martis said. "I'd rather be here."

Martis threw four innings of one-run ball in what became a 6-2 victory for the Washington Nationals over the New York Mets. In doing so, he accomplished two goals: stretching himself out to 63 pitches and not losing effectiveness, and forcing the Nationals to think that he might be a contender for a spot in the rotation.

"He's a guy that you can count that he's going to throw strikes," Manager Manny Acta said. "He's either going to get hit, or he's going to get them out. . . . He's making it tough. He's competing."

With top prospect Collin Balester struggling to a 9.00 ERA, there appears to be a spot open in the Washington rotation. Martis, who will turn 22 on March 30, has been a starter throughout his minor league career. He posted a 3.64 ERA in 21 starts between Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Columbus in 2008, but entered camp as a candidate to be a long reliever.

"I'm not worrying about that," he said. "I just want to be on the team."

Maxwell Opens Up

Saturday morning, after consulting with hitting coach Rick Eckstein, outfielder Justin Maxwell returned to a more open stance, one he used in 2007, when he made his major league debut. The early return: a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the Nationals' six-run ninth inning.

"Sometimes, if something isn't broke, why fix it?" Acta said.

Five Washington relievers combined to allow just one run in five innings. Jesús Colome, a candidate to pitch the eighth inning, has given up only one run in his six spring innings. . . .

Left-hander John Lannan threw five scoreless innings against a combination of major and minor league hitters at the Nationals' complex in Viera. . . .

Right-hander Shawn Hill, hoping to shake persistent arm pain, will throw an inning Monday against Florida in Jupiter, his first game action since Feb. 27. Hill will start the game so he has plenty of time to warm up, Acta said.

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