- The Washington Times - Friday, September 23, 2005

Forgive John Patterson if his mind was elsewhere when he pitched Wednesday night at RFK Stadium.

The Washington Nationals right-hander, who surrendered five runs on 10 hits in a 5-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, was more concerned about his family in Orange, Texas, where they sit in the projected path of Hurricane Rita.

“[Baseball] is not more important than my family, I’ll tell you that,” Patterson said.

Patterson grew up in Orange, near the Texas-Louisiana border and owns a two-story home there along the water. His parents, grandmother and brother still live there, and all were preparing to evacuate yesterday.

“It’s not good,” Patterson said. “The eye is headed right for them.”

The family originally wanted to fly to Washington to join John but couldn’t make it to the airport in Houston. With traffic at a standstill throughout the region, they didn’t expect to be able to make it any farther than an in-laws’ lake home about an hour and a half north of Orange.

“It’s probably not far enough,” Patterson said. “But it’s someplace for them to go right now.”

As of yesterday afternoon, Rita (a Category 4 storm) was projected to make landfall near Beaumont, Texas, late tonight or early tomorrow. That would leave Orange (which is already housing many displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina) to the immediate east of the eye, generally the most-damaging location in a hurricane.

Growing up along the Gulf Coast, Patterson has dealt with hurricanes before.

“We ran from one when I was a kid,” he said. “It did some damage, but it was nothing like what this is going to do.”

Majewski family reunion

Gary Majewski hails from Houston, so his mind also is somewhat focused on Rita. The second-year reliever, though, was more excited yesterday to have his father watching from the stands for the first time in his major league career.

Jerry Majewski, a security coordinator for the government, returned two weeks ago from an almost yearlong stint in Afghanistan. The elder Majewski, who for the last nine years has spent the bulk of his time working in places like Kosovo and Serbia with contractors who are rebuilding the infrastructure in those war-torn countries, had to date been able to follow his son’s career only through the Internet.

“I remember yelling and screaming through the compound [in Afghanistan one night last year],” Jerry Majewski said. “Everyone asked what happened, and I said, ‘My son was called up to the major leagues.’ ”

Jerry was ecstatic to tour the Nationals clubhouse yesterday and couldn’t wait to see his son run out from the bullpen to pitch a scoreless eighth in Washington’s 2-0 win. He had witnessed only a couple of his son’s minor league games in person.

Said Gary: “It takes a weight off your shoulders, knowing he’s home.”

Majewski also has been hoping his paternal grandfather could come to a Nationals game. Bruno Majewski, though, has been battling heart problems since June and has been unable to see Gary pitch.

Extra bases

Catcher Brian Schneider continues to be bothered by a sore right shoulder and was unavailable yesterday. Schneider, who has been battling tendinitis in the shoulder for some time, was struck by a foul ball during Wednesday’s game and had to leave following the sixth inning. He may see significantly limited playing time down the stretch.

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