Notes: Patterson's right arm feels good
Estrada coming along slowly; Escobar takes swings as DH
JUPITER, Fla. -- Right-hander John Patterson threw his final batting practice on Wednesday and didn't have any problems. His fastball and curveball were outstanding, but he had some problems throwing his slider for strikes.
Patterson will next pitch against the Orioles on Friday. It will mark the first time Patterson has pitched in a game since June 21, when he had a rehab stint against Class A Winston-Salem. The last time Patterson pitched in a big league game was May 6 against the Cubs.
Patterson has played in a combined 16 games the last two years because of nerve problems in his right arm. So far, Patterson hasn't had problems with the arm this spring.
With a healthy Patterson, the Nationals would like him to be the pitcher who had a 3.13 ERA and a career-high 185 strikeouts in 2005.
"I feel good," Patterson said. "I'm excited about playing in a game. I'm ready to go. I like to get in there and face some hitters without telling them what's coming. I want to see where I'm at. It will be fun."
Injury report: Catcher Johnny Estrada said he is frustrated because his right elbow is still sore and not getting any better. Estrada, who had a bone spur removed from the elbow this past offseason, has been participating in bating practice and catching drills.
During a catching drill recently, Estrada went all out on a throw, and that may have proved costly. He admits that he tried to do too much, too soon.
"It's coming along slower than we thought," he said. "It's still giving me some good pain. They are monitoring my throwing. It's frustrating right now. I'm starting to take some medicine. Hopefully it can knock out some inflammation out."
Estrada had an MRI exam almost a month ago and the team found no structural damage in the elbow.
On the mound: Left-hander Matt Chico started for the Nationals on Wednesday night and pitched two shutout innings against the Marlins. However, he threw 32 pitches and 16 of them went for strikes. Chico is aware that he must be more consistent in the strike zone.
"It went OK," Chico said about his outing. "I was a little more pleased by the fact that I was down in the zone for the most part. I was trying to get that first-pitch strike, but there was too much adrenaline going. Being the first pitcher [on the mound], I was trying to do too much."
Extra hitter: The Nationals will use the designated hitter until March 15. Alex Escobar, who hasn't played in a Major League game since 2006, was the DH against the Marlins on Wednesday.
Cut down time: The Nationals currently have 75 players in camp, and general manager Jim Bowden said he would like to have the roster cut down to 55 by March 10.
And baby makes three: Teresabel Rijo, the wife of special assistant to the general manager Jose Rijo, gave birth to a son, Jose Alejandro Rijo, on Monday. The baby weighed in at 7 3/4 pounds.
Coming up: The Nationals return to Viera, Fla., to play against Georgetown University at 11:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. Nationals right-hander Jason Bergmann will make the start, while Josh Smoker, Collin Balester and Michael Hinckley are expected to pitch in relief.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.