- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

VIERA, Fla.

Bench coach Eddie Rodriguez has one of the most important jobs of camp: Sounding the air horn to signal the end of each group drill session during morning workouts. But when Livan Hernandez came up yesterday and asked whether he could take over the all-important air horn duties, Rodriguez complied. Big mistake. The first time Livan blew the horn, he had some trouble figuring out how to grip it properly and wound up having to wipe a bunch of residue off his hands. He found the right grip the next time but decided to hold the trigger down for a full five seconds, leaving everyone from Viera to Orlando grabbing for their ears. “How you like it now?” Hernandez yelled out. We don’t. …

If you’re a rookie and it’s spring training, you’re expected to be shagging balls during batting practice. So when Ryan Zimmerman tried to pull a veteran move yesterday, he was quickly called out by his teammates. Zimmerman was caught lounging in the grass in foul territory along the first-base line just watching the hitters.

First baseman Nick Johnson asked last year’s first-round pick, “Are you going to shag some balls?” Zimmerman quickly responded: “I was watching, learning a few things.”

Later in the clubhouse, outfielder Ryan Church said Zimmerman should have bought Peter Gammons lunch during BP since he chatted with the ESPN analyst and didn’t shag balls. Manager Frank Robinson heard the clubhouse chatter and asked Zimmerman, “Did you shag any today?” Zimmerman told his skipper the truth, “No.” Robinson then reminded his young third baseman, “It’s a long camp. You’ll get yours.”

THE BUZZ

DAY OF RECKONING - up

Alfonso Soriano due to arrive today, meet with his new manager.

FICK’S ELBOW - Down

“Gravel” detected in throwing elbow, said he will play season in pain.

RAMON ORTIZ - Up

Drawing raves for his bullpen sessions.

BRIAN LAWRENCE’S GOLF GAME - Sideways

Pitcher says he carries a 1-handicap. Teammates can’t wait to find out in person.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Nationals were the only team in baseball last season with two of their last three No. 1 draft picks (Chad Cordero and Ryan Zimmerman) already on their major league roster.

OVERHEARD

“See pitch. Like pitch. Swing pitch.”

— Manager Frank Robinson on Jose Vidro’s approach to hitting.

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

TODAY: Position players report.

TOMORROW: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

SATURDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

SUNDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

MONDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

TUESDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

WEDNESDAY: Exhibition opener vs. KIA Tigers in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

HOW TO GET TO SPACE COAST STADIUM

From Orlando/North: Take Rte. 528 East (Bee Line Expressway) 25 miles to I-95 South. Exit I-95 South at Fiske Blvd. (Exit 195). Proceed south on Fiske Blvd./Stadium Parkway to the stadium. Approx. time: 45 minutes.

From Melbourne/South: Take I-95 North to Wickham Rd. (Exit 191) and turn left. Turn right on Lake Andrew Dr. and follow to the stadium. Approx. time: 20 minutes.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Partly cloudy, 52 degrees.

Viera: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees.

Mark Zuckerman and Ken Wright

Got a question about the Nats?

Mark Zuckerman has the answers. The Times’ beat reporter for the

Nationals will respond to your questions on-line and in print each

Monday, beginning Feb. 27. Send questions to Mark at natsmailbag @ washingtontimes.com

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