- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

VIERA, Fla. — The knowledge he didn’t make the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day roster didn’t stop John Lannan from showing one more time why he deserved to be there.

The left-hander concluded a stellar spring with another impressive outing yesterday, giving up one run on three hits in six innings while walking one and striking out five. If Shawn Hill can’t come off the disabled list April 13 to start against Atlanta, manager Manny Acta said Lannan would be called up from Class AAA Columbus.

If he pitches the Clippers’ opener Thursday night, he could make the major league start on a regular rest schedule.

“He makes it more special knowing that he’s already off the team,” Acta said. “A lot of guys could have gone out there a little bit mad and careless, and he didn’t do that. He’s a special kid.”

Lannan finished the spring 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 202/3 innings.

“I hope no injuries on anybody,” he said. “But the way I look at it, I’m going to get an opportunity at some point in the year.”

Hill said he will throw three innings in a minor league game in Viera tomorrow and then fly to Washington for Opening Day on Sunday.

Pena’s recovery quickens

Left fielder Wily Mo Pena, who was expected to miss the first several weeks of the season with a torn left oblique muscle, said he will start doing normal workouts Monday, which will include throwing, catching fly balls, running and lifting weights. He also might take batting practice.

He’s staying in Florida for the start of the season, so he will miss the opening of Nationals Park.

“I told them I need to work,” Pena said. “I’ll be there one day. The main thing now is to just get ready.”

Pena doesn’t feel any pain in his side.

“I told [the doctors] it’s not bothering me, and they were like, ‘How?’ I said, ‘I don’t know how.’ ”

Dukes absent

Left fielder Elijah Dukes wasn’t at Space Coast Stadium because of a court date in Tampa, Fla., stemming from his misdemeanor charge in August for violating a domestic violence injunction.

“We’re killing two birds with one shot,” Acta said. “We’re resting his [sore] hammy, and he’s taking care of his off-the-field stuff.”

Lineup coming tomorrow

Acta said the Nationals’ starters would be announced tomorrow, meaning the players in heated competitions for starting jobs — Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young at first base, Cristian Guzman, Ronnie Belliard and Felipe Lopez at second base and shortstop — won’t learn their roles before leaving Florida.

“I wanted to let everybody work hard for it up until the last day and not have anybody poking around the last week of spring training,” Acta said. “That was the reason for it, keep everybody on their toes as long as I could.”

None of the players competing for a spot has asked Acta about his status, he said.

“They’ve just gone about their business like they’re the guy,” Acta said.

SEEN AND HEARD IN VIERA, FLA.

NATIONALS 2, ORIOLES 1

John Lannan’s spring ended with another impressive performance that showed why the Nationals will make him the fifth starter if Shawn Hill’s arm troubles continue past April 13, when the team will need a fifth pitcher for the first time. He went six innings, giving up one run on three hits.

Speaking of impressive, Joel Hanrahan ended a scoreless spring by striking out one in a perfect inning. He finished with 13 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out 15.

TEMPERATURE CHECK

UP JOHN LANNAN

If Shawn Hill isn’t ready April 13, he’s the guy.

UP FELIPE LOPEZ

Ends sour spring by going 1-for-2 with a homer and a walk.

DOWN ROB MACKOWIAK

Another frustrating day; 0-for-2, 1 K, finishes spring at .176.

DOWN SPACE COAST STADIUM ELEVATORS

Lives have wasted away waiting for those things.

OVERHEARD

Not fast.

Dmitri Young on how he feels running the bases

BY THE NUMBERS

1 More hit John Lannan allowed this spring (17) than his number of strikeouts (16).

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