- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

STAMMEN’S DAY IN THE SUN

LAKELAND, Fla. - Craig Stammen doesn’t show up on any outside publication’s list of the top pitching prospects in the Nationals’ system, but the 25-year-old right-hander has plenty of supporters within the organization.

Given his first chance to pitch against a major league opponent Tuesday, Stammen got some more attention. He allowed one run and one hit in four innings against the Tigers, retired 10 in a row at one point and struck out Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson in succession.

“I’m not going to mention names, but Stammen looked better than a few guys we had here in camp,” manager Manny Acta said.

A 12th-round pick in the 2005 draft - one round behind John Lannan - Stammen was stuck at Class A for three seasons but burst onto the scene last year and was promoted twice. He’s slated to open 2009 at Class AAA, but he knows where he wants to be by late summer.

“My goal is to pitch in the big leagues this year,” Stammen said. “If I don’t get that chance, I’ll consider it probably a little bit of a disappointment.”

NATIONALS 7, TIGERS 2

Austin Kearns belted a tape-measure homer to lead Washington to a rout at Joker Marchant Stadium. In the process, he may have inched closer to the starting right fielder’s job.

Kearns, who took a fastball from Detroit lefty Nate Robertston deep to left and into a picnic area some 430 feet from the plate, continues to have a strong spring. He’s tied for the team lead with three homers and nine RBI while posting a .408 on-base percentage.

Acta hasn’t committed to Kearns, Elijah Dukes or Josh Willingham as his starting right fielder, though the manager admitted that spring training stats will factor into the decision. Acta also suggested he may use a rotation of outfielders as the season plays out.

“Just because a guy starts on Opening Day, that doesn’t mean I’m going to bury the guys who don’t start that day,” he said. “These guys are quality players who have been everyday players in the past, every single one of them. We’re going to give everybody a chance to play.”

- Mark Zuckerman

TEMPERATURE CHECK

DOWN - WILY MO PENA

Cleared waivers and was granted his release

DOWN - GARY GLOVER

Reliever reassigned to minor league camp

DOWN - SPRING TRAINING RAIN DELAYS

There’s nothing more exciting

WEDNESDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Afternoon rain, 57 degrees

Viera: Isolated storms, 87 degrees

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Wednesday: vs. Blue Jays in Dunedin, 1 p.m.

Thursday: vs. Phillies in Clearwater, 1 p.m.

Friday: vs. Orioles in Norfolk, 3:30 p.m.

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