Nationals Notebook

Citi Field Offers Room to Explore for Nats

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 25, 2009

NEW YORK, April 24 -- Cavernous and opulent, with that new carpet smell in the clubhouse and an angular outfield wall that bends like the northern border of Kentucky, New York's Citi Field offered its latest visitors -- the Washington Nationals -- plenty to explore and appraise when they arrived here for the first time. So before Friday's game, the Nationals checked out everything. After all, they'll play here nine times this year, as much as any stadium but Nationals Park.

When the Nationals took early batting practice, third base coach Pat Listach walked the outfield perimeter, studying the angles. Citi Field, unlike Shea Stadium, is rich with nooks and crannies. And it's huge. A 16-foot fence guards center field, 408 feet away. The stadium measures 415 to right-center.

"It plays big out there," Listach said.

"I looked at that [415 sign] and was like, 'Okay, I like that,' " pitcher Jason Bergmann said.

Officially, Citi Field seats 42,000, a capacity just 112 more than at Nationals Park. But it gives the feel of something much bigger. The outfield scoreboard is framed by billboards, almost quadrupling its size. In left field, three decks toward skyward; an out-of-town scoreboard and more billboards are stacked atop all the seats.

When coach Randy Knorr walked out into the visiting dugout, he said: "How many does this hold? 200,000?"

Interest in Pedro

Acting general manager Mike Rizzo said on Friday that his team does in fact have some interest in current free agent pitcher Pedro Martínez, who might be willing to sign with a team within the next few weeks -- provided a team meets his price. He is said to be seeking up to $5 million.

"Early on we had mild interest," Rizzo said, "and I would say it's probably still at a mild interest. If the price were right we'd consider it, just to give us a little more depth.

"Now I feel good about our rotation; they're young, but I think the upside of the staff is really good. But Pedro would have a good stabilizing effect just because of his experience level and his willingness to be a teacher and a mentor to the young guys. This guy is a Hall of Fame pitcher who knows how to prepare himself and get ready for games, and that's how I would describe our interest level."

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