Notes: Nats interested in Perez
Free-agent lefty could be signed, compete for rotation spot
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals general manager Jim Bowden has often said, "You never have enough pitching." According to a baseball source with knowledge of the situation, Washington has expressed serious interest in left-hander Odalis Perez, who is still a free agent.
Whether they sign Perez to a Major League deal remains to be seen. He is coming off one of his worst seasons in the big leagues, going 8-11 with a 5.57 ERA in 26 starts for the Royals. He made $7.75 million last season, but the Nationals will not give Perez that kind of money.
This is not the first time Washington had interest in Perez. After Perez went 7-6 with a respectable 3.25 ERA with the Dodgers in 2004, the Nationals targeted him as one of the top free-agent pitchers. But they had no chance to sign him back then because Perez was looking for a big pay day. He ended up staying with Dodgers and signed a three-year deal.
If Perez signed with Washington now, he would get a chance to win a spot in the rotation. Right now, however, John Patterson, Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann, John Lannan and Matt Chico were considered the starters entering Spring Training.
Da Meat Hook is back: First baseman Dmitri Young reported to camp two days early, and it appears he lost a few pounds. Asked how much weight he lost, he replied, "I dropped enough."
Young started the day by doing infield drills at Space Coast Stadium followed by taking batting practice at the Washington Nationals' Training Complex.
Young finds himself battling Nick Johnson for the first-base job, and Young said that it's healthy to have competition. He went through it when he played for Bowden as a member of the Reds.
Young was able to play every day for the Nationals last year because Johnson had a broken right leg. Young ended up hitting .320 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs, winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
"My mind-set is ready for the season and I know it's the same with Nick," Young said. "I know we are good friends. It's a friendly competition. I wish him the best. He is such a great guy, a great player and great athlete. One of us may get traded. It's a good thing when you are wanted by our team and by somebody else. Nick is going to bring the best out of me and I'm going to bring the best out of him."
One the mound: Patterson had his first bullpen session in front of Nationals hierarchy and threw with out any pain. In fact, he pitched slightly over the required eight minutes. The right-hander was slated to throw his arsenal of pitches.
"I threw the ball good," Patterson said. "I didn't throw my curveball as well as I have been throwing it, but everything else looked good. Mechanically, I feel good. My arm feels good. I'm aiming the ball at times, but I know I have been doing that. I just have to get into the rhythm of throwing the ball and letting it go."
Pitching coach Randy St. Claire said he saw a confidence in Patterson that he hasn't seen in a while.
"Just the way he is carrying himself on the field, he looks like he is relaxed and free," St. Claire said. "It doesn't look like that doubt right now like, 'Oh, am I healthy,' that type of feeling."
Name change: The Carl Barger Complex has now been changed to the Washington Nationals' Training Complex, effective Monday.
Did you know: Infielder Aaron Boone and Johnson were teammates in 2003 and helped the Yankees win the American League pennant over the Red Sox.
Stat of the day: The Nationals were 5-9 in extra-inning games last year.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.