- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 25, 2007

VIERA, Fla. — Washington Nationals ace John Patterson had to be sent home from the ballpark yesterday after suffering from dehydration, a freak medical emergency that club officials say shouldn’t affect the right-hander’s status for Opening Day.

Manager Manny Acta said Patterson complained of being dehydrated shortly after the Nationals took batting practice in preparation for yesterday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals and “kind of passed out.”

Patterson was given intravenous fluids and was sent home to rest. He’ll be reevaluated today, but a team official said he’s still scheduled to make his next start Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles.

“He had some dehydration, kind of passed out,” Acta said. “They took him in for some tests and they released him. Tomorrow he comes over here. We’ll reevaluate him, he’ll do some light work and we’ll go from there.”

Acta said Patterson wasn’t doing any strenuous pregame work, only shagging fly balls in the outfield during batting practice on a windy, 74-degree day at Space Coast Stadium.

He last pitched on Friday, throwing four innings against the Detroit Tigers and complaining afterward that he felt tired toward the end of his outing.

The Nationals will continue to take precautions with Patterson and other players, watching for warning signs of dehydration.

“It’s scary,” Acta said. “Almost every year, whether it’s football or baseball, something happens on the field. You don’t take it lightly.”

Hill battles

Shawn Hill wasn’t his sharpest in his final Grapefruit League start yesterday, but the right-hander still emerged without allowing an earned run over 51/3 innings.

The Nationals’ No. 2 starter gave up two unearned runs and two hits while walking three Cardinals batters and striking out three, but more than anything else was happy to be healthy.

Hill had been battling a slight forearm strain this spring, but he said the injury is now “barely there” and isn’t affecting his throwing motion.

Hill, who has an 0.93 ERA in five spring outings, struggled to control his curveball but said he should be able to solve the problem before his next start (Thursday against the Orioles in Columbus, Ohio).

“There’s plenty of time,” he said. “What I’ve got to work on, it’s just the curveball. I can fix that on the side. It’s nothing big.”

Extra bases

Acta said he remains undecided whether to carry 11 or 12 pitchers on his Opening Day roster. The decision, he said, will come down to whether No. 5 starter Jason Simontacchi returns from a groin strain. If Simontacchi has to open the season on the DL, Acta might be more inclined to carry seven relievers.

“That’s why I keep telling you guys I can’t give you the [final] 25-man roster now, because too many things can happen,” Acta said. …

Catcher Brian Schneider is due to be in the lineup today after missing seven days with a strained hamstring. …

Outfielder Chris Snelling, who strained his left knee during Friday’s game, returned to play yesterday and reported no problems.

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