- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2006

VIERA, Fla. — Something about facing the Los Angeles Dodgers brings out the best in John Patterson.

For the second time in a week, the Washington Nationals right-hander overwhelmed the Dodgers yesterday with four shutout innings in his third spring training start. Monday in a split-squad game in Vero Beach, Fla., Patterson humbled the Dodgers by throwing three scoreless innings.

“You know, it’s kind of funny. I was in the California League [in 1998 with High Desert in the Arizona Diamondbacks system], and the Dodgers team was in San Bernardino at the time … and we always battled pretty good,” Patterson said of a rivalry between two National League West affiliates. “I’ve always pitched pretty good against them. I like pitching against them.”

The 6-foot-5 Patterson is coming off a breakout season in which he went 9-7 with a 3.13 ERA in 31 starts. On Aug.4, Patterson had his first career shutout against the Dodgers at RFK Stadium with a career-high 13 strikeouts.

In seven shutout innings against the Dodgers (his only seven against major league competition this spring), he has allowed three hits and no walks while striking out seven.

“I got good momentum last year, and I just hadn’t had anything to slow me down right now,” Patterson said of his confidence. “I feel good. I feel focused. I feel a lot of confidence when I’m on the mound. I’m out there with a purpose and pitching my games. Success breeds success.”

Patterson, 28, arguably has been the Nationals’ best pitcher during camp. He opened the spring schedule without his best stuff when he allowed two runs in one inning against the Kia Tigers, a Korean team, on March 1. Since then, he has had the two strong games against the Dodgers.

“He continues to improve,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “He continues to get sharper each time out, and his location was very good today. He had a very good outing today. Keep building — that’s what we look for. As you go along, you get better. This was his best outing so far.”

Guzman optimistic

Shortstop Cristian Guzman believes he will be healthy and back on the field in one week. Guzman had an MRI taken on his ailing right shoulder Friday that revealed inflammation and what team physicians are calling bursitis.

Guzman expects to be ready by Opening Day — just more than three weeks away — on April 3 at the New York Mets. The switch-hitting Guzman started experiencing soreness in his shoulder about a week ago. He says his shoulder bothers him when he throws and bats right-handed.

“I did it just throwing,” Guzman said. “I felt it a little bit, but I didn’t think about it too much. I kept throwing and throwing, and it got worse, and now I have to stop.”

Guzman, who batted .219 last season — the lowest batting average among the league’s everyday shortstops — has been shut down for five to seven days. On Friday, team physicians gave him a cortisone injection and told him to rest.

“When the season starts, I’m going to be ready,” Guzman said. “We’ve got three more weeks. We’ve got time to work on it to be ready.”

A rare victory

Even after yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Dodgers, the Nationals are 2-9-1 against other major league clubs this spring — the worst such mark in baseball.

“Of course I’d like to win ballgames down here, but that’s not my No. 1 or No. 2 priority,” Robinson said. “My No. 1 priority is to keep people healthy, and if you have everybody healthy, you have a healthy ballclub. No. 2 is to create good habits down here. I like to see good fundamentally played baseball games, and we haven’t done that down here. It’s a little concerning to me because defensively we should be able to catch and throw the ball.”

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

submit a question, go to the Sports Page

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide