- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

VIERA, Fla.

Running does a body good, but don’t tell that to some members of the Nationals’ pitching staff.

Strength and conditioning coach Kazu Tomooka attempted to be as diplomatic as possible when explaining his end-of-practice conditioning run, which was greeted with moans and groans. Tomooka opened every outfield gate in the four upper fields of the team’s complex and told the pitchers he wanted them to run two laps — inside the fences on the warning tracks — around all of them.

As protests echoed from a dugout, pitching coach Randy St. Claire commented, “Dang, I hear some whining. Kazu, do pitchers always whine?” Right-hander John Patterson immediately stood up for the rest of the staff. “We’re the only ones that do anything, they don’t run,” Patterson said, pointing to an adjacent field where position players were gathering for batting practice.

Patterson’s logic didn’t work on St. Claire and Tomooka, and all 30 pitchers took off with glum expressions …

The pop-up drill is a spring training favorite, so there were plenty of eyes on yesterday’s proceedings. John Stearns, who will manage Class AA Harrisburg this season, used a pitching machine to shoot balls a couple hundred feet into the sky, then watched as various catchers attempted to locate and haul them in. There were a couple of nifty plays, but the real fun came whenever Stearns launched balls over the backstop.

Those fans who were paying attention went scurrying to try to retrieve a souvenir, but one poor woman with a baby had no idea what was going on. She nearly took not one, but two pop-ups on the noggin before finally realizing it might be a good idea to move to a safer location.

THE BUZZ

ROTATION WOES

Day 3 and already they’re searching for available arms

TRIM GUZMAN

He arrives lean and mean (and hopefully primed to hit at least .240)

HITTERS TAKE BP

Not that it wasn’t fun watching Chad Cordero take some hacks

MORNING FOG

Hope there aren’t any stoplights ahead, ‘cause we’re driving right on through

BY THE NUMBERS

29

Pitchers in camp, including non-roster invitees.

16

Position players who have reported early, including non-roster invitees.

OVERHEARD

“The grounds crew isn’t going to like us.”

— Minor-league manager John Stearns, running a drill in which catchers were tearing up the grass behind the plate tracking down wild pitches.

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

Today: Pitchers/catchers workout, 9 a.m.

Tomorrow: Position players report

Friday: 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.

HOW TO GET TO SPACE COAST STADIUM

From Orlando/North: Take Rt. 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: Cloudy, 44 degrees.

Viera: Mostly sunny, 81 degrees.

Ken Wright and Mark Zuckerman

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 [AT] washingtontimes.com


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