- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2007

SEEN AND HEARD

Nationals 2, Cardinals 2 (10)

JUPITER, Fla. — It looks like Jason Simontacchi has all but locked up a spot in Washington’s Opening Day rotation.

The veteran control specialist offered up another quality outing yesterday, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings against the defending World Series champions. Though his spring ERA is a mediocre 5.25, Simontacchi has impressed the Nationals with his superb control and overall efficiency (he’s the first staff member to go five innings in a start).

Manager Manny Acta came close to acknowledging the 33-year-old has made the club.

“He’s helping himself big-time,” Acta said. “It’s going to be tough [for someone to unseat him] unless something happens drastically in the last three weeks.”

Simontacchi’s teammates couldn’t produce enough at the plate to get him a win, though. Despite putting 12 men on base, Washington pushed across only two runs and had to settle for a 10-inning tie with St. Louis.

TEMPERATURE CHECK

SIMONTACCHI SAYS (UP)

He just won a spot in the rotation.

REHABBED SHOULDER (UP)

Guzman should be ready for Opening Day.

REHABBED ELBOW (DOWN)

Ayala won’t be ready for the opener.

BEACHLINE EXPRESSWAY TRAFFIC (DOWN)

Felipe Lopez misses the bus to Jupiter.

BY THE NUMBERS

1

Walk issued by Jason Simontacchi in 12 innings this spring.

2

Times Cristian Guzman needed to throw the ball in five innings at shortstop yesterday.

OVERHEARD

“We don’t have one player that is signed off the island because he’s got good eyes.”

— Manny Acta on Dominican players’ reputation for being free swingers

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

Today: vs. Tigers (ss) in Viera, 7:05 p.m.; vs. Dodgers (ss) in Vero Beach, 7:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: vs. Indians in Winter Haven, 12:35 p.m.

Saturday: vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie, 1:10 p.m.

Sunday: vs. Marlins in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

Monday: vs. Dodgers in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday: vs. Marlins in Jupiter, 1:05 p.m.

Wednesday: vs. Braves in Viera, 7:05 p.m.

HOW TO GET TO SPACE COAST STADIUM

From Orlando/north: Take Route 528 East (Bee Line Expressway) 25 miles to I-95 South. Exit I-95 South at Fiske Boulevard (Exit 195). Proceed south on Fiske Boulevard/Stadium Parkway to the stadium. Approximate time: 45 minutes.

From Melbourne/south: Take I-95 North to Wickham Road (Exit 191) and turn left. Turn right on Lake Andrew Drive and follow to the stadium. Approximate time: 20 minutes.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Thunderstorms, 71 degrees.

Viera: Thunderstorms, 81 degrees.

Mark Zuckerman

Want more Nats? Check out Nats Home Plate.

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