- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Zimmerman’s agent in town

VIERA, Fla. - Ryan Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, was at Space Coast Stadium on Tuesday to talk with team president Stan Kasten about a long-term contract for the Nationals third baseman. The discussions have not turned serious yet, but the two sides apparently are ramping up negotiations in hopes of making progress toward a deal by Opening Day.

Zimmerman’s camp has discussed a long-term deal with the Nationals for the better part of his three seasons in Washington. Those talks have mostly been with former general manager Jim Bowden, and Kasten has assumed responsibility for the team’s baseball operations until the Nationals name a general manager on either an interim or permanent basis.

The deal Nick Markakis signed with Baltimore this winter might serve as a good benchmark for the Nationals’ negotiations with Zimmerman. The outfielder, who got a six-year, $66 million deal, was also entering his first year of arbitration after posting a .299 average, .375 on-base percentage and .476 slugging percentage over his first three seasons. Zimmerman, who signed a one year, $3.325 million deal to avoid arbitration last month, has a .283/.333/.462 split over three seasons. His home run and RBI totals (58 and 258) are also similar to Markakis’ (61 and 261), and both are strong defensive players.

NATIONALS 9, TEAM ITALY 6

Zimmerman, Elijah Dukes and Ian Desmond fueled a Nationals offense that rang up six runs on Italy’s World Baseball Classic entry between the third and fifth innings, all while John Lannan and Shairon Martis held Italy scoreless.

The lead evaporated in the hands of Marco Estrada, Wil Ledezma and Gary Glover, with Glover throwing a wild pitch to bring in the tying run in the top of the ninth. Manny Acta and Italian manager Mike Hargrove had already agreed to end the game in a tie after nine innings since Cody Cillo was Italy’s last pitcher.

But with two outs in the ninth, Roger Bernadina crushed a 3-1 fastball over the right-field wall to give the Nationals the win.

- Ben Goessling

TEMPERATURE CHECK

JOHN LANNAN [UP]

Didn’t have best stuff but got through three scoreless and backed up a wild throw at home.

ROGER BERNADINA [UP]

Three-run bomb in the ninth redeems Nationals after blown lead.

MEDIA PARKING SECURITY [DOWN]

MLB.com’s Bill Ladson lost a window to a Kory Casto foul ball - two years after Chris Snelling broke his window.

WEDNESDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Sunny, 41 degrees.

Viera: Mostly sunny, 68 degrees.

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Wednesday: vs. Mets in Viera, 1 p.m.

Thursday: vs. Tigers in Lakeland, 1 p.m.

Friday: vs. Orioles in Fort Lauderdale, 1 p.m.

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