Notes: Ayala tells different story
Reliever says stranger, not friend, shot him on hunting trip
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals reliever Luis Ayala reported to camp on Thursday and talked about getting shot in December. His version was different than the one his agent, Joe Longo, gave on Jan. 4.
Ayala was on a fishing trip with a friend in Mexico on Dec. 26. According to Longo, Ayala's friend's "quick-triggered gun" accidentally went off and the bullet grazed Ayala's left biceps.
But Ayala claims that the friend did not shoot him. He said a hunter in the woods accidentally shot him. The hunter was looking to shoot birds in the lake.
"It was an accident. Some people were hunting and some people were fishing," Ayala said. "I didn't know where the bullet came from. We were fishing in a bad spot. We saw some guys and they said, 'Sorry.'"
An exam revealed a bruised nerve in Ayala's biceps. The righty is currently experiencing a slight tingling sensation that is common with a nerve contusion to this area of the body. X-rays of Ayala's arm show that small fragments of the pellet remain in the arm, but those will not be touched because they have not caused any problems.
Ayala said the arm is not 100 percent and showed the area where he was shot. It looks like a pink dot on his biceps.
"I need a couple of more weeks and I'll feel good," he said. "I can play catch. I can do everything."
Ayala said his right elbow, which was surgically repaired in 2006, is 100 percent and he wants to be the pitcher that appeared in a career-high 81 games in '04 for the Expos. Last year, manager Manny Acta was cautious when it came to Ayala's right arm. After coming off the disabled list on June 20, Ayala appeared in 44 games and had a 3.19 ERA.
" I made a good comeback last year," he said. "Now, I'm healthy. I'm available to pitch [a lot of innings]."
Guzy is in the house: Shortstop Cristian Guzman arrived in camp and his agent, Stanley King, said this year is important for the switch-hitter. Guzman, who is in the last year of a four-year, $16.8 million deal, has played only 46 games over the last two years and hit .219 in 142 games in 2005.
"He likes it here in Washington," King said. "He is disappointed about the injuries. He knows he has so much he has to offer. If Washington goes in another direction, it's important for him to be able to show that he could play at a high level. It's an important year for him. There no getting around it."
A great first step: After taking batting practice at the Nationals' training complex, first baseman Nick Johnson started running the bases for the first time in camp and didn't have a noticeable limp. Johnson would run to second as if he had hit a double, then scored on a double. The session lasted 10 minutes.
The new stadium: With 38 days to go, the Nationals have sold over 17,000 full-season tickets for 2008. By Opening Day, it will be around 18,000, which is a 20 percent bump from last year at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
The first game at the new park will be March 29 against the Orioles at 6:05 p.m. ET. The reason the game is in the evening is because of the National Marathon in Washington..
Accounted for: Righty reliever Jesus Colome is expected to fly in from the Dominican Republic on Thursday and report on Friday.
Did you know? The Nationals went 11-17 during the 2007 exhibition season.
Stat of the day: During his career, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has hit .286 with runners in scoring position.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.