- The Washington Times - Friday, March 4, 2005

VIERA, Fla. — Tomo Ohka was the latest Washington Nationals starting pitcher to enjoy a solid spring debut.

Ohka allowed one run on four hits in three innings during a seven-inning intrasquad game yesterday, walking one and striking out one.

“I feel good,” Ohka said. “I made them hit a lot of ground balls.”

Ohka threw 43 pitches and used his entire repertoire. Both Ohka and starter Tony Armas Jr., who tossed two scoreless innings in the Nationals’ spring opener Wednesday, are returning from injuries.

“I thought all his stuff looked good,” reliever Joey Eischen said of Ohka. “He worked down. He gave up some singles. But typically he gives up almost a hit per inning when it comes to the big leagues, so that’s nothing new. He knows how to pitch and battle. I think he’s doing well. He’s in here every morning working hard. I think he’s right on course.”

Center fielder Endy Chavez had two of the four hits off Ohka. Chavez led off the game with a bunt down the third-base line and doubled when right fielder J.J. Davis misplayed a line drive in the third. Ohka induced six groundouts, including one double play.

Ohka missed half of the 2004 season after breaking his right forearm when he was struck by Carlos Beltran’s line drive June10 at Kansas City. Ohka, who went 3-7 with a 3.40 ERA last season with the Montreal Expos, might emerge as the Nationals’ No.3 or No.4 starter.

Travel squad

Second baseman Jose Vidro, shortstop Cristian Guzman and first baseman Nick Johnson are the only Nationals position players who will not accompany the team today for its exhibition against Baltimore in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Select pitchers also have been excused. However, ace Livan Hernandez will make his spring debut today against the Orioles. In tomorrow’s split-squad games, Zach Day will face Houston at Space Coast Stadium, and prospect Michael Hinckley will start against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Extra bases

First-base coach Don Buford will manage tomorrow’s split-squad game against the Mets. … Injured relievers Francis Beltran (shoulder) and Claudio Vargas (elbow) threw on the side but did not participate in the intrasquad game. “My arm is pretty strong, and I don’t feel any pain,” said Beltran, who threw for the first time this spring.

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