- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals will break camp this morning with a finalized Opening Day bullpen that includes one surprise member: Jesus Colome.

Colome, the 29-year-old journeyman right-hander, had his contract selected from Class AAA yesterday after an impressive performance this spring as a nonroster invitee. He won the seventh spot in the bullpen over fellow right-handers Saul Rivera and Chris Booker, who, barring any changes, both will open the season at Columbus.

A hard-thrower who pitched in the majors for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays each of the last six seasons, Colome impressed Nationals officials this spring by posting a 2.46 ERA in eight appearances. That, combined with a clause in his contract giving him the right to become a free agent today if he is not on the major league roster, convinced Washington to put him on the club.

“He’s pitched better than we’d ever seen him before,” manager Manny Acta said. “When you find arms like that and the way pitching is nowadays where everybody’s looking for those type of arms, I think you’ve got to hold on to this one. We’re happy to keep him.”

Colome joins closer Chad Cordero, setup men Jon Rauch and Ryan Wagner, left-handers Ray King and Micah Bowie and rookie right-hander Levale Speigner in the Nationals’ bullpen.

Logan improving

Center fielder Nook Logan continues to progress in his recovery from a strained right groin muscle, and he remains optimistic he won’t have to open the season on the disabled list.

Logan, who hurt himself Saturday, will travel with the Nationals to Columbus today but won’t appear in their exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles. He might play tomorrow in Norfolk, Saturday at RFK Stadium or even Sunday in an extended spring training game in Viera.

If Logan proves he’s healthy, he will start in center field Opening Day, with rookie Kory Casto likely optioned to Columbus. If Logan has to open on the DL, Casto will make the club and could wind up starting in left field.

Extra bases

Shawn Hill is scheduled to start today’s exhibition game in Columbus … unless the weather in Ohio doesn’t cooperate. Hill, the Nationals’ No. 2 starter, was told to show up at Space Coast Stadium this morning prepared to travel and pitch against the Orioles. But if it appears it’s going to rain in Columbus, he will remain in Viera and pitch in an extended spring game so he can remain on schedule to start the second game of the regular season. …

Washington officially placed four injured players on the 15-day DL: first baseman Nick Johnson (broken right leg), right-hander Luis Ayala (recovering from elbow surgery), left-hander Mike O’Connor (recovering from elbow surgery) and outfielder Alex Escobar (separated right shoulder). Johnson will travel with the club and continue his rehab program with the major league training staff. The other three will remain in Florida.

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