- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

JUPITER, Fla. — Esteban Loaiza had no complaints about his spring debut against major league hitters.

Loaiza, one of the Nationals’ top offseason acquisitions, yesterday allowed just one run on seven hits in four innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. The right-hander is the first member of Washington’s projected rotation to pitch more than three innings in a start this spring.

“Everything went well, all my pitches were good and I felt fine,” Loaiza said. “This is where I like to be. My arm didn’t bug me at all, I threw all my pitches for strikes. I mixed in some changeups and sinkers on both sides of the plate.”

Last Thursday against Bethune-Cookman College, Loaiza allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits in 22/3 innings. Yesterday’s plan was for Loaiza to throw 60 pitches or go four innings. He threw just 47 and did not walk a batter.

“I don’t want to give up runs,” Loaiza said. “I know I gave up seven hits, I don’t like giving up a lot of hits, especially in four innings and the weather how it is [windy and overcast], but that’s just the way the game is.”

Majewski melts down

Nationals reliever Gary Majewski suffered his second consecutive poor outing, allowing three runs on two hits and walking two without retiring a batter in the fifth inning.

Last Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. against the Baltimore Orioles, Majewski allowed three runs — all earned — and issued three walks in just two-thirds of an inning. Majewski said he has had trouble keeping the ball down.

When Nationals manager Frank Robinson pulled his reliever in the fifth inning yesterday, he offered words of encouragement.

“He told me not to be discouraged and just get the ball out front,” Majewski said. “He wanted me to go throw 15 extra pitches in the bullpen. Your confidence level is always big. Today was pretty much the exact same as the other day. When you get up to this level, you have to learn to be your own pitching coach the majority of the time. I got away from that. I just need to establish my fastball.”

Said Robinson, “He’s not throwing strikes. I think he may be trying a little too hard, trying to overthrow a little bit and not letting his arm get out front. The first four pitches were in the same place. C’mon, it tells you something.”

Desmond bats out of turn

Ian Desmond, the Nationals’ 19-year-old shortstop, batted out of order yesterday without being caught.

Apparently, Robinson was giving his teenage prodigy a hard time on the bench, saying he couldn’t hit St. Louis reliever Randy Flores. Desmond heard enough and eagerly trotted up to the plate in the spot where Alex Escobar should have batted.

Desmond entered the game in the eighth inning for shortstop Jamey Carroll, who batted in the No. 2 spot, and doubled.

Pineda injured

Reliever Luis Pineda, who was reassigned to the Nationals’ minor-league camp on Monday, has a sprained right elbow and a hairline stress fracture, the club discovered.

The injury might explain Pineda’s total loss of control in Sunday’s split-squad game against the New York Mets, in which he walked six batters (including five straight) in only one-third of an inning.

Pineda complained of discomfort in his elbow after the poor outing, and while examining the sprain Monday, team doctors discovered the stress fracture. He’s expected to be out four to six weeks.

Broxmeyer out of race

Long Island developer Mark Broxmeyer has abandoned his quest to buy the Washington Nationals, according to Sal Galatioto, a New York investment banker who had been advising Broxmeyer.

It is not certain what cooled Broxmeyer’s interest in the club, as he had spent more than two years developing a bid. Broxmeyer has declined to return calls for comment on the Nationals over the last several months. But Galatioto said he had not performed any work for Broxmeyer since last year.

“I guess he’s decided to not pursue it,” he said.

Extra bases

Yesterday’s game against the Cardinals was delayed 12 minutes because of rain. …

Majewski wasn’t the only Nationals pitcher who struggled yesterday. Reliever T.J. Tucker was rocked, as well. Tucker surrendered five runs — all earned — on four hits, including a three-run homer by pinch hitter John Mabry in his one inning.

Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this report.

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