- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007

Jason Bergmann wasn’t satisfied with his performance on the mound yesterday. Few pitchers would be content to throw 92 pitches in only 32/3 innings, allow three runs and issue four walks.

Bergmann, though, could take solace in one simple fact following yesterday’s exhibition finale at RFK Stadium.

“It’s one of those situations, uniquely, where I can have a bad game and my ERA lowers to 0.00,” the Washington Nationals right-hander said. “So that’s a good thing.”

Indeed, Bergmann and the Nationals get to start anew tomorrow when the 2007 season opens against the Florida Marlins. Statistics from yesterday’s 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles or any of the 30 other exhibition games Washington played during the last month don’t mean anything anymore.

Still, Bergmann knows he’s got to produce better results the next time he toes the rubber: Thursday in the Nationals’ fourth game of the regular season. And he can best accomplish that by improving one thing.

“Command,” manager Manny Acta said. “Just poor command of all his pitches. He kept rolling the lineup over and over, and you can’t do that at this level because it affects the whole game.”

Bergmann was all over the place in his final start of the spring. In addition to the four walks and the load of pitches he threw in a brief outing, he also managed to strike out seven Orioles. That’s not usually part of his game, though, and the right-hander knows he would be better off keeping the ball over the plate and letting his defense do all the work.

“I’d be more happy with not striking out anybody and throwing five clean [innings] than striking out the side every inning,” he said. “It puts more pressure on myself, and the defense gets tired out there. I felt like sometimes I was standing out there on the mound and they haven’t touched the ball for two innings.”

A good cause

The Nationals Dream Foundation announced a long-term partnership with Children’s National Medical Center, one in which the franchise will donate $2 million to help create a pediatric diabetes care facility in the District.

The foundation, which serves as the club’s primary charitable arm, will pay $1.25 million in cash and $750,000 in other assets to the newly created clinic, which will tackle one of the leading medical problems in the area.

According to Jim Lintott, chairman of the hospital’s foundation board, the D.C. area has experienced a 15 percent increase in new pediatric diabetes cases every year since 2004.

“This gift will transform children’s health in the Washington capital area and will change thousands of lives for the better,” Lintott said.

The Nationals Dream Foundation also announced a commitment to build a youth baseball academy in the District.

Injury updates

Injured right-handers Jason Simontacchi and Luis Ayala won’t be ready to return to the Nationals until late this month at best, according to general manager Jim Bowden.

Simontacchi (who strained his right groin muscle March 17) and Ayala (who is recovering from right elbow ligament surgery last year) will continue to work out in Florida and won’t begin rehab assignments until they’re closer to being game-ready.

In Simontacchi’s case, that won’t be for at least several more weeks. Team officials originally expressed hope the right-hander wouldn’t miss more than one or two turns in the rotation, but that outlook appears to have changed.

“We’re not going to rush him,” Bowden said. “I would say with all the pitchers we’re looking at, anywhere between April 25 and May 5 as a best-case scenario.”

Extra bases

Acta said the lineup he used for yesterday’s game will remain the same for tomorrow’s opener: Felipe Lopez at second base, Cristian Guzman at shortstop, Ryan Zimmerman at third base, Austin Kearns in right field, Dmitri Young at first base, Brian Schneider at catcher, Ryan Church in left field and Nook Logan in center field. …

Both the Marlins and Nationals will hold light workouts at RFK this afternoon.

Want more Nats? Check out Nats Home Plate.

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