- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tightness in John Patterson’s pitching arm has forced the Washington Nationals to push the right-hander’s next start back a day.

Patterson, who is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA after four starts, originally was scheduled to start tomorrow afternoon’s game against the Cincinnati Reds at RFK Stadium. He will be replaced by right-hander Ramon Ortiz (0-2, 7.31 ERA). Patterson instead will open the Nationals’ four-game series at St. Louis on Thursday.

“I don’t see myself missing a start like [disabled list] time or anything like that, but to be pushing on it … it’s just tight,” Patterson said yesterday. “It’s just lingering. There are days when it’s OK, and there are days when it’s not. I think the weather is having some effect on it. When it’s warmer, it’s fine. When it’s cold and damp like it was the other night [Friday], it just tightens up.”

Patterson’s last start also was pushed back a day, but he said that was so he would be able to pitch against the Atlanta Braves.

Patterson said the pain is inside his right elbow, though it technically is considered his forearm. He said he feels it most on offspeed pitches.

The happiest man in this new rotation shuffle is Ortiz. With Saturday’s rainout, Ortiz was skipped in the Nationals rotation and was not happy with manager Frank Robinson’s decision.

Ortiz was looking at the possibility of going 13 or more days between starts, but now it’s just 10. Ortiz’s last start was April 16 at Florida.

“I’m very happy, and I appreciate it,” he said.

Emergency catcher

Damian Jackson, Marlon Anderson, Marlon Byrd and Daryle Ward all can breathe a little easier. The Nationals have found a third catcher: utility infielder Brendan Harris.

Harris wore catcher’s equipment for the first time during batting practice and received personal instruction from roving catching instructor Bobby Henley.

“For Day One, he was OK,” said Henley, who also manages the GCL Nationals of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. “The toughest thing is trying to relax.”

Said Harris: “It’s more out of necessity, like when we were in a pinch the other night.”

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