- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

Q: I know the Nationals’ bullpen remains one this team’s strengths, but hasn’t that group as a whole pitched worse than expected? — Wayne Hopper, Arlington

A: Yes, it has. Washington relievers have a 4.53 ERA, second worst in the National League. That number is still better than the rotation’s 4.81 collective ERA, but we all knew the starters were going to struggle. The bullpen was supposed to help keep this team in games and be able to maintain a late lead. That hasn’t happened nearly enough, and it’s largely an indictment of three guys who were supposed to be Manny Acta’s go-to guys: Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch and Ryan Wagner. Each has an ERA of more than 5.00, and each has been hit hard in crucial situations of games. The Nationals are going to need all of them to return to their top form if they want to remain competitive.

Q: What are the dimensions of the Nationals’ new ballpark? Will it be a pitcher-friendly haven like RFK, or will guys have a better chance of hitting home runs? - Steven Koren, Washington

A: We won’t really know until we get into the place and see how the ball travels, but all indications are it will be a fair park that doesn’t favor either hitters or pitchers. The dimensions are 332 feet down the left-field line, 377 feet to the left-center gap, 409 feet to center field, 370 feet to the right-center gap and 335 down the right-field line. There will be an 8-foot tall fence in left that goes up to 12 feet in center and right. Just based on those numbers and drawings I’ve seen, it looks like right-center will be the place to try to hit them out. Left-center could require more of a poke.

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