- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2009

Zimmermann ready to compete

VIERA, Fla. - When Jordan Zimmermann was drafted out of tiny Wisconsin-Stevens Point, he figured someday he would get a chance to compete for a job in big league camp.

But even the 22-year-old right-hander admits: “I didn’t think it would come this soon.”

The Nationals’ second-round pick in the 2007 draft, Zimmermann has catapulted through the club’s farm system and earned Baseball America’s No. 1 ranking among team prospects this winter. He’s now in contention for a spot in the Opening Day rotation.

A soft-spoken, blond-haired native of Wisconsin, Zimmermann has a reputation as a bulldog on the mound. He has a four-pitch arsenal (fastball, curveball, slider, change-up) and isn’t afraid to go after hitters.

After a standout 2008 season in which he went a combined 10-3 with a 2.89 ERA at Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg, Zimmermann has received plenty of attention. He’s not letting all of it get to his head.

“I’m a pretty calm, laid-back guy,” he said. “So I really don’t get too worked up about anything.”

Manager Manny Acta said Sunday that Zimmermann will have every opportunity to win a rotation spot, and the young pitcher sounds intent on seizing it.

“I mean, I didn’t come here to just get my feet wet,” he said. “I’m trying to break with the team.”

Sosa a no-show

Acta said the only pitcher or catcher who didn’t report on time was right-hander Jorge Sosa. Acta believes the Dominican reliever is dealing with some visa issues.

Sosa, 31, is a seven-year veteran who posted a 7.06 ERA in 20 games with the Mets last season. He wound up pitching in the minor leagues for the Mariners but was suspended in late August for 50 games after testing positive for amphetamines.

Sosa signed a minor league contract with the Nationals this winter. His suspension won’t be complete until late April.

- Mark Zuckerman

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Physicals day [DOWN]

Most boring day of spring

Acta’s attitude [UP]

Third-year manager remains as positive as ever

Wisconsin [UP]

Gotta love Zimmermann’s northern accent

BY THE NUMBERS

4 Nationals players scheduled to play in the World Baseball Classic (Daniel Cabrera, Shairon Martis, Saul Rivera and Roger Bernadina).

MONDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Partly cloudy, 41 degrees.

Viera: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees.

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Monday: Pitchers and catchers work out, 9 a.m.

Tuesday: Position players report.

Wednesday: Pitchers and catchers work out, 9 a.m.

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