- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

THREE CATCHERS LIKELY

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The final spot on the Nationals’ bench will likely go to a third catcher.

Seeking another left-handed bat for late-inning situations, Washington is leaning toward keeping both Josh Bard and Wil Nieves. Nieves, a better defender, would serve as the primary backup to Jesus Flores. Bard, a switch hitter, could be used more as a pinch hitter.

Signed to a minor league deal in late March after the Red Sox released him, Bard is a career .265 hitter. He’ll make $600,000 if he makes the Opening Day roster.

The club hasn’t made any official announcements, but manager Manny Acta said Thursday that infielder Alex Cintron has accepted a reassignment to Class AAA Syracuse. Kory Casto, the other position player in the mix, is out of options and would have to pass through waivers before he can be outrighted to Syracuse.

NATIONALS 12, PHILLIES 10

The NL East rivals combined for 22 runs and 29 hits on a windy afternoon at Bright House Field in the Grapefruit League finale .

Ryan Zimmerman blasted two of Washington’s five homers, going 3-for-3 with a walk, three RBI and three runs scored. With three homers in the past week, Zimmerman’s heating up at the right time, but he said he would rather save it for the regular season.

“I wish I didn’t hit the home runs,” he said. “I felt good all spring. I feel ready to go. I’m just ready to start playing games that count. I’m tired of all this stuff.”

Austin Kearns, Cristian Guzman and Cintron also homered for the Nationals, who knocked out Philadelphia starter Jamie Moyer after four innings. Scott Olsen, Washington’s No. 2 starter, also struggled. He allowed nine runs (four earned) on 10 hits in six innings. Olsen finished the spring with a 4.55 ERA and 40 hits allowed in 29 2/3 innings.

— Mark Zuckerman

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Scott Olsen [DOWN]

Could be some concerns heading into season

Power surge [UP]

Nationals club five homers in Florida finale

Dmitri Young and Anderson Hernandez [DOWN]

Both officially placed on 15-day DL

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Friday: vs. Orioles in Norfolk, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: vs. Orioles at Nationals Park, 6:05 p.m.

Sunday: Workout in Miami, 5:30 p.m.

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