Tuesday morning in Viera

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Morning tidbits from Nats camp:

* Odalis Perez has still not reported, and there is no indication he’ll be arriving here any time soon. The veteran left-hander, who by now you know is holding out for a better contract than the nonguaranteed, $850,000 deal he agreed to two weeks ago, remains at home in the Dominican Republic. Manny Acta said he has tried to get a hold of Perez but has had no luck.

As far as the organization is concerned, he’s required to report by Feb. 22 (Sunday) or else he’s in breach of contract (even though techincally they could require him to report today, because today is the mandatory date for those participating in the World Baseball Classic).

The lack of Perez in camp, Acta conceded, opens the door a little more for some of the younger pitchers in camp (Jordan Zimmermann, Collin Balester) to earn a spot in the rotation. I asked Manny if Odalis does report at some point, does this incident hurt his chances of making the team. “It all depends when he reports,” Acta said. “Obviously if he reports really late in the spring after most of our guys have stepped up, it’s different. But I don’t think it’s going to come to that. I think he’s either going to report with enough time or not report at all. It’s out of my hands. I can’t hold any grudges against him, because I don’t deal with any of that stuff. He’s a grown man, and he’s been around and obviously he’s responsible for his own acts.”

* In other, non-Odalis related news, Acta says he has been tinkering with about 50 different lineups in the last week since the club signed Adam Dunn. He wasn’t about to reveal his ultimate intentions to us on the fourth day of camp, but he did say that Ryan Zimmerman will hit third and Dunn will hit cleanup.

* Speaking of guys who will be in the lineup, Cristian Guzman reported this morning. The All-Star shortstop was all smiles. Nice to see Guzie come to camp without any questions lingering over his head for the first time since … well, since he came to the Nats in 2005. He’s healthy, he’s coming off a fabulous season and he’s signed for the next two years.

* The second pitchers and catchers workout is about to begin. All the pitchers who didn’t throw yesterday will be on the bullpen mounds today.

Most notable names from today’s group are a couple of guys coming back from injuries: Shawn Hill and Matt Chico. Hill, who had elbow surgery in September to remove bone spurs, says he’s been feeling great. Chico, who had Tommy John surgery last summer, is only now beginning to throw off a mound, so he’s still got a ways to go. He’s shooting to start pitching in game-like situations in June or July and has a goal of returning to the big leagues in September.

- Mark Zuckerman

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Mark Zuckerman

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