- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2006

VIERA, Fla.

When there are 69 players in camp, there are going to be tight quarters. And when another player is added at this stage, teams really start running out of space. But Pedro Astacio, the Nationals’ newest pitcher, needs a locker in the home clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium. So clubhouse manager Mike Wallace gingerly walked up to minor leaguer Bill Bray yesterday and asked whether the 2004 No. 1 draft pick would be willing to give up his locker to Astacio, a 14-year veteran, and move to a temporary one at the far end of the room. Bray, hardly one to boast a major league ego, didn’t put up a fight.

“Wally,” he said, “you can give me a locker across the street if it means I’m still up here [in big league camp].” …

Ramon Ortiz continues to impress in the early stages of spring training. The slight right-hander threw live batting practice yesterday and left nearly everyone looking foolish. Mike DiFelice looked lost while taking his hacks, at one point losing his grip on the bat and sending it flying. Only one minor league invitee managed to take Ortiz deep, but even that came when Ortiz announced his next pitch would be a changeup. It’s a little easier when you know what’s coming.

THE BUZZ

Up — LET THE GAMES BEGIN

Exhibition season finally under way.

Down — ADIOS, ALFONSO

Soriano won’t play before he leaves for the WBC.

Up — ASTACIO ARRIVES

Newest acquisition due in town today … once he passes that physical.

Sideways — KIA TIGERS LINEUP

Kim, Jang, Han, Son, Lee — and Cervenak?

DID YOU KNOW?

The first man to pinch-hit for new Nationals first base coach Davey Lopes in a major league game was Frank Robinson. Robinson, playing with Lopes for the 1972 Dodgers, struck out.

OVERHEARD

“Did you watch ‘Dancing with the Stars?’ Jerry Rice has no rhythm.”

— Class AAA New Orleans manager Tim Foli, talking to several players around the batting cage.

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

TODAY: vs. Kia Tigers in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

TOMORROW: vs. Pirates in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

FRIDAY: vs. Pirates in Bradenton, 1:05 p.m.

SATURDAY: (ss) vs. Panama in Viera, 1:05 p.m.; (ss) vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie, 1:10 p.m.

SUNDAY: vs. Orioles in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

MONDAY: (ss) vs. Astros in Kissimmee, 1:05 p.m.; (ss) vs. Dodgers in Vero Beach, 1:05 p.m.

TUESDAY: vs. Marlins in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

HOW TO GET TO SPACE COAST STADIUM

From Orlando/North: Take Route 528 East (Bee Line Expressway) 25 miles to I-95 South. Exit I-95 South at Fiske Blvd. (Exit 195). Proceed south on Fiske Blvd./Stadium Parkway to the stadium. Approx. time: 45 minutes.

From Melbourne/South: Take I-95 North to Wickham Rd. (Exit 191) and turn left. Turn right on Lake Andrew Dr. and follow to the stadium. Approx. time: 20 minutes.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Partly cloudy, 49 degrees.

Viera: Sunny, 78 degrees.

Mark Zuckerman and Ken Wright

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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