- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 17, 2007

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The Washington Nationals made another round of cuts yesterday and reduced their spring training camp roster to 42 players.

The Nationals optioned right-handed pitchers Emiliano Fruto, Beltran Perez and Chris Schroder to Class AAA Columbus. The Nationals also reassigned right-handers Winston Abreu and Colby Lewis, catchers Danny Ardoin and Brandon Harper, outfielder Jose Macias and left-hander Arnie Munoz to minor league camp.

None of these roster moves come as a surprise. Perez, who pitched well last September as a call-up from Class AA Harrisburg, struggled during this camp in an intrasquad game and an accelerated minor league game. Perez went 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA last season with the Nationals in three starts.

“Beltran Perez came all the way from Double-A last year; he did pitch in three games and pitched well, but we don’t feel that he is ready yet to be in the starting rotation up here,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “He’s going to be down at Triple-A working on his offspeed stuff and his command, the command of his fastball. And he’s there for us. He’s still a young guy.”

Perez ranked among the 12 prospects vying for one of the four spots in the starting rotation this spring. Lewis was another potential candidate but pitched poorly in two Grapefruit League outings. He allowed eight runs in 41/3 innings this spring.

“He took it well,” Acta said of Lewis. “He knew that he hadn’t pitched well at all. He knew that the opportunities were limited too, and we’re running out of time here. So, he’s going to go down there and get his stuff together. He knows that there are a lot of opportunities here.”

Rainout and rotation

With yesterday’s washout against the Cleveland Indians, the Nationals will push back their starters one day. Right-hander Jerome Williams, who was scheduled to start yesterday, will now start today against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Right-hander Joel Hanrahan was scheduled to start today’s game against the Mets and now will follow John Patterson tomorrow against the Florida Marlins in Viera.

Nationals pitching coach Randy St. Claire said that some of the club’s relievers will pitch in minor league games so they can get in innings with some of the starters getting pushed back one day.

Double-play combination

Yesterday was supposed to be the first time this spring that shortstop Cristian Guzman and second baseman Felipe Lopez started together in the field.

That will have to wait until today. Instead of having today off, both Guzman and Lopez will accompany the team to Port St. Lucie, Fla., and start the game. Acta has been patiently waiting to see both of them together in the field.

“It’s something we’ve been waiting for the whole spring,” Acta said. “Tomorrow is going to be that first day. Guzman is looking better and better every day, at least in the workouts.

Guzman has been battling tendinitis in his surgically repaired right shoulder and his playing time has been limited in the field.

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