VIERA, Fla., Feb. 22 -- Washington Nationals Manager Manny Acta has a chart in his office that shows which pitchers are scheduled to throw in which spring training games once the Grapefruit League season begins March 2. Yet when asked the most intriguing question in the Nationals' camp -- What will the rotation be? -- Acta declined, then mimicked having a shoulder problem.
"It's too early," he said. "Something will happen. You'll have a backache or a stomach flu."
A couple of aspects of the spring rotation have been determined. Right-hander John Patterson will pitch March 3, the first game here at Space Coast Stadium, which puts him on schedule to pitch April 2, the regular season opener.
Acta said the club also will have two intrasquad games Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We got to find some innings for those 36 guys," Acta said, noting the number of healthy pitchers in camp.
The plan for the first two or three turns through the rotation is for each starter to pitch two or three innings, then be followed by another starter. The number of true candidates for the rotation should be whittled down after that.
Anxious AyalaRight-hander Luis Ayala is still coming along steadily after missing all of 2006 following elbow surgery. "It's hard," he said. "I want to go out and do everything, but they tell me I can't." Ayala has reported no problems with his elbow, and said he has thrown his slider in bullpen sessions. Acta said, though, he won't throw Ayala on back-to-back days early in camp, and likely won't pitch him on three consecutive days during the year. In 2005, Ayala threw on three straight days three times. But lots of activity didn't seem to bother him: His ERA when pitching on zero days' rest was 2.96, as opposed to 2.70 with one day off.
RFK PA AnnouncerThe Nationals are preparing to make a change to their public address announcer at RFK Stadium. According to sources, the club recently held tryouts that included Jim Clarke, the man who held the job the first two seasons the team was in Washington. Clarke, who frequently missed announcing pinch hitters and defensive substitutions during the club's inaugural season of 2005, was beaten out for the job. An announcement about a replacement should come soon.
Johnson's TherapyFirst baseman Nick Johnson has begun therapy in a swimming pool to help his broken right femur heal more quickly. . . .
Right-hander Jesus Colome missed Thursday's workout because of an abscess on his right buttocks. He should return to full activity by Saturday. . . .
Acta's parents, Manuel and Blanca, attended Thursday's workout with his wife, Cindy.
Both Sides Now
CF Nook Logan, a switch hitter, is a career .322 hitter with a .356 on-base percentage from the right side and a .249 hitter with a .305 on-base percentage from the left side.