- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. | The Washington Nationals should draw a healthy crowd to their home opener with the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies in town. But just in case that’s not enough, the Nationals have an even bigger guest lined up.

Provided his schedule doesn’t change because of world events, President Obama is planning to throw the first pitch at the team’s home opener April 13, according to a club source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not yet announced Obama’s appearance.

The Nationals invited Obama to throw the first pitch earlier this spring, and team president Stan Kasten said Obama has a standing invitation to throw out the first pitch as long as there is a baseball team in Washington.

An appearance by Obama would mark the third time the president has thrown out the first pitch in the team’s five years in the District. George W. Bush did so at the Nationals’ home opener in 2005 and again last year in front of a national TV audience before the first game at Nationals Park.

It also would mark Obama’s second appearance of the young baseball season; he has been invited to throw out the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox’s opener on April 6. The Cincinnati Reds also have invited him to throw out the first pitch in their June 20 Civil Rights Game against the White Sox.

- Ben Goessling