- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2008

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals might have to trade one of the veteran bench players they acquired in the offseason.

The Nationals signed Aaron Boone, Willie Harris and Rob Mackowiak to one-year contracts in an effort to strengthen their bench, but it’s possible one of them won’t make the Opening Day roster.

“At the end of camp, we are going to have to decide,” manager Manny Acta said. “I don’t know if we have room for all of them.”

Acta could carry 11 pitchers on his roster and sometimes up to 12, one reason the Nationals might not have a spot for all three versatile players. Boone can play both third and first base, Harris has speed and can play infield and outfield positions and Mackowiak is an outfielder.

The Nationals also face a decision at first base between Dmitri Young, an All-Star last season, and Nick Johnson, who is coming back from a broken leg. If Johnson is healthy, one of the two likely will be traded.

Elijah Dukes is expected to be the team’s fourth outfielder barring a weak performance this spring or an incident from the volatile 23-year-old.

And three infielders — Cristian Guzman, Felipe Lopez and Ronnie Belliard — are fighting for two positions. Only Belliard has been a bench player in the past, and he is considered the incumbent at second base.

It’s also possible a prospective bench player will begin the season on the disabled list, delaying a decision for Acta.

Games in HD

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network announced it will televise 80 baseball games in high definition this season, split evenly between the Nationals and Orioles.

The network said all six interleague games between the Nationals and Orioles will be in HD, as well as Washington’s Opening Night game March 31 and key games against the Mets, Braves and Phillies.

The complete schedule of HD games will be published in the next two weeks.

MASN said the “Nats Extra” and “O’s Extra” pregame and postgame shows will return, and 160 will be produced on location at the ballparks, up from 64 last season.

Lineup announced

The Nationals announced their food vendors, including several notable local companies.

The team confirmed Ben’s Chili Bowl will have a stand at the ballpark, offering half-smokes, chili dogs and vegetarian chili. Hard Times Cafe will have similar fare, including chili mac and chicken wings.

Kosher Sports will sell hot dogs and garlic knishes, and Cantina Marina will have specialty frozen drinks and Tex-Mex and Cajun food.

Boardwalk Fries will sell french fries and chicken fingers, and Noah’s Pretzel’s will sell special “curly W” pretzels and donate a portion of proceeds to autism research in the D.C. area.

Krazee Ice will sell flavored snow cones, and Gifford’s Ice Cream and Candy Co. will provide frozen treats. La Piccola Gelateria will sell gelato and other Italian-style desserts.

Red Hot & Blue, which was at RFK Stadium the last two years, will return.

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