- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

VIERA, Fla. — Tex is going West.

Washington Nationals right-hander Gary Majewski was added to the United States’ final 30-man roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Majewski was added as a replacement when New York Mets closer Billy Wagner withdrew from the tournament.

“There’s a reason why. Gary is a good pitcher,” said Nationals catcher Brian Schneider, who also is playing for the United States in the WBC. “He was under the radar last year, but he’s not this year. People know what he’s got and how good he is.”

Majewski, 26, who is from Houston, went 4-4 with a 2.93 ERA in a franchise rookie record 79 games out of the bullpen last season. He was particularly effective against left-handed hitters (.236).

Majewski joins Schneider and closer Chad Cordero on the U.S. roster. With setup man Luis Ayala having committed to play for his native Mexico, the Nationals’ bullpen will have three representatives in the event. Majewski, Schneider and Cordero leave today to report to the U.S. team camp in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In total, eight Nationals players are participating in the inaugural 16-team tournament. Pitcher Tony Armas Jr. (Venezuela), catcher Wiki Gonzalez (Venezuela), second baseman/outfielder Alfonso Soriano (Dominican Republic), and catcher Alberto Castillo (Dominican Republic) are the others.

Medical confirmation

An MRI on Robert Fick’s right elbow confirmed the catcher/first baseman has loose bone chips.

Fick is listed as day-to-day and will be re-evaluated next week. Fick, whom the Nationals signed to a one-year, $850,000 guaranteed contract this offseason, said he intends to play this season, then have surgery.

If Fick is unable to throw, he could open the season on the disabled list.

“We have Robert Fick here really for his bat,” Robinson said. “If he can swing the bat, he’s going to be all right. … We’re not going to carry someone who can’t throw, though, over the course of a season, because he’s going to have to play a position sometime sooner or later.”

Last season with the San Diego Padres, Fick hit .265 with three home runs and 30 RBI in 230 at-bats. The Nationals signed Fick primarily to fill out their bench and provide an experienced left-handed pinch hitter.

Rough pitching debuts

Right-hander John Patterson had a shaky start, and All-Star closer Cordero couldn’t get anybody out. Good thing yesterday’s game was an exhibition — the first against outside competition this spring for the Nationals, who play the Pittsburgh Pirates today in Viera.

Patterson lasted one inning and allowed two runs on three hits. Meanwhile, Cordero pitched just one-third of inning and surrendered four runs on three hits in the 13-8 victory against the Kia Tigers, a Korean team.

Patterson had his differences with home plate umpire Ed Hickox from the first Tigers batter — center fielder Yong-Kyu Lee.

“The curveball was right down the middle, and the next pitch was a fastball in, and [Hickox] missed that one, too,” said Patterson, who is projected as the club’s No. 2 starter. “That kind of gets things off to a rocky start when you can’t get those pitches.”

Patterson threw 36 pitches in the first inning and was working with catcher Matt LeCroy for just the second time during this camp.

When Cordero entered in the fifth inning, the Nationals were leading 9-4. Five batters and four runs later, the Nationals were clinging to a one-run lead. Cordero, who led the majors last season with 47 saves, admitted his slider was off and his pitches hung.

“It’s better to get this type of game out of the way here,” Cordero said. “I don’t think I threw one [ball] by one hitter. They fouled off everything.”

Extra bases

Right-hander Pedro Astacio passed his physical and officially can join the club. Astacio, who signed a one-year, $700,000 contract Monday, underwent MRIs on both his shoulder and elbow and was pronounced healthy. …

Injured outfielder Jose Guillen took live batting practice for the first time since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. …

Tony Armas Jr. will not pitch tomorrow against the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., because he is required to report to the Venezuelan national team’s camp in Clearwater, Fla., the same morning. Nationals pitching coach Randy St. Claire is undecided who will start.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the http://www.washingtontimes.com/sports>Sports Page

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