- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007

VIERA, Fla. — There were no fans in the stands, the players on both teams wore the same uniform and everyone trotted in and out of the same dugout. But the Washington Nationals’ intrasquad game yesterday was treated like any other game, and the club’s coaching and front office staffs watched closely to see who responded and who didn’t.

The end result — a 4-4 tie — wasn’t too memorable, but manager Manny Acta did emerge feeling good about what he saw.

“That’s what we want to see in spring training,” he said. “It went very well for a first intrasquad game.”

As will be the case all spring, most eyes were on the Nationals’ two starting pitchers yesterday: rookie left-hander Matt Chico and journeyman right-hander Joel Hanrahan. Neither dazzled, but neither struggled mightily during his two-inning stint.

Chico, the organization’s top upper-level pitching prospect, allowed two runs on three hits in his two innings, serving up an RBI double to Ryan Zimmerman and a towering solo homer to Michael Restovich.

Chico said afterward he was happy with his changeup but was disappointed he couldn’t keep his fastball down in the strike zone with more regularity.

“I made a couple of bad pitches, but overall I thought I did pretty well,” he said. “Getting out there for the first time in a game situation, it was exciting.”

Hanrahan, also in the running for one of four open rotation spots, allowed one run on two hits in two innings, his biggest mistake a two-out, run-scoring double by George Lombard in the second.

“It’s always good to get the first one out of the way with minimal damage,” the right-hander said. “Everybody that’s competing for a spot, they’re watching your every move. You just want to go out there and give them a good impression.”

The Nationals will play one more intrasquad game today, with Tim Redding facing Jerome Williams, in preparation for Friday’s exhibition opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

MASN sets schedule

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network said it will broadcast 161 regular-season Nationals games this year, with 62 appearing on the alternate MASN2 channel.

The cable network said 30 of the games, including most of the weekend games, also will air on WDCA (Channel 20) in the D.C. area.

In addition, MASN said the network will also show eight spring training games, plus 30-minute pregame and post-game shows.

The MASN2 channel was created in order to accommodate coverage of both the Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. Game coverage on the MASN2 will be identical to the main MASN channel but will only show games when the Orioles and Nationals are playing at the same time. In most areas, MASN2 will pre-empt programming on an existing channel, such as C-SPAN2 or a local access station. A list of channel information on MASN and MASN2 is available at the network’s Web site.

Earlier this week, MASN announced it will simulcast 25 Orioles games on WJZ-Channel 13 in Baltimore. WJZ and MASN also will collaborate on coverage of Cal Ripken’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.

Lemke reported from Washington.

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