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03/08/07 8:12 PM ET

Notes: Patterson making progress

Right-hander throws three solid innings in accelerated game

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander John Patterson pitched three shutout innings in the team's accelerated intrasquad game at the Carl Barger Complex on Thursday morning. He retired all 12 batters he faced and struck out five.

Patterson, who missed most of the 2006 season because of a pinched nerve in his right forearm, was able to throw all of his pitches, including the changeup, without any problems.

Patterson said he was glad to pitch in the accelerated game because he was able to work on his delivery instead of worrying about the results against a Major League team.

"As you can tell, I was very relaxed, just thinking about my delivery, making my pitches," Patterson said. "It was the best I've felt. The ball seemed to be coming out of my hand pretty well. It was staying true. It's what I've been looking for. I've been a little quick in my delivery. Today, I felt it was a little improvement on that."

Patterson is scheduled to pitch next on Tuesday, which is the Nationals' off-day, but he will pitch in another accelerated game at the Carl Barger Complex.

On the mound: Jason Simontacchi was the first Nationals pitcher to go four innings this spring. He gave up three runs on four hits. Two of those runs were scored on a wind-aided home run by Jason Lane.

"I felt good," Simontacchi said. "The last outing I had, I didn't throw the fastball inside enough. I felt we had a game plan and things worked out. My curveball wasn't as sharp. I left it up a couple of times."

Jason Bergmann initially appeared to be a long shot to make the 25-man roster, but after two outings, he has showed the Nationals that he wants to be in the starting rotation. On Thursday, he threw three shutout innings against the Astros and hasn't given up a run in five innings this spring.

Bergmann said he decided to work a little harder this offseason. Instead of starting his workouts in January, he began in early December. He even threw batting practice before going to Spring Training.

"I've done well in two outings," Bergmann said. "There are 12 guys going for four spots. Eight of them are not going to make it. I want to be one of those four guys. I've done my best. I came in a lot more ready than any time in the past. I worked out harder. I started pitching earlier."

Thinking of Matthew: Thursday was Armed Forces Appreciation Day at Space Coast Stadium, and the public address announcer wished all the best to Matthew Church, the younger brother of outfielder Ryan Church. Matthew, 24, is an Army Ranger and is being deployed to Iraq on Sunday. Ryan acknowledged that his brother is often on his mind.

"I just hope for the best," Ryan said. "It's tough. I received a letter from him and it might be the last time I get anything from him. You just never know."

Front-office changes: The Nationals named Bobby Williams director of player development and Mark Scialabba assistant director of player development.

Williams replaces Andy Dunn, who resigned almost a month ago. Williams will be working closely with assistant general manager Bob Boone, who oversees the Minor League system. Williams was offered the job on Thursday after attending a coaches meeting.

"[General manager] Jim [Bowden] came to me to see if I was interested, and I gave him an answer two days later that I was interested," Williams said. "Just this morning he came and got me out of the meeting with the Major League coaches and told me that he was going to offer me the job. I accepted, and here we are now."

Williams, who is the son of NBA executive Pat Williams, enters his third season with the Nationals. Last season, Williams managed Class A Savannah, and he was at helm of Class A Vermont the previous season.

Scialabba accepted his new role after joining the Nationals last season as an assistant in the baseball operations department.

Agent sighting: Brodie Van Wagenen, the agent for Ryan Zimmerman, was spotted at the Carl Barger Complex on Thursday.

Zimmerman has less than three years of service time and the Nationals can automatically renew his contract before the Sunday deadline. It appears the two sides have not had a formal meeting since last Sunday, and Van Wagenen declined to talk about contract negotiations between Zimmerman and the Nationals.

"We have a lot of respect for the organization," Van Wagenen said. "They have treated Ryan great. Where we are at now is, there is really nothing to be concerned about. We will continue to have as good a relationship as we've had with them."

Stat of the day: Entering Friday's action, Robert Fick leads the Nationals in Spring Training RBIs with five.

Did you know? The Nationals will have five of the first 70 picks in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

Be a part of the mailbag: The Nationals mailbag runs every Monday. Send in your questions now.

Coming up: The Nationals travel to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday afternoon at 1:05 ET to face the Orioles for the second time this spring. The last time the teams met was Saturday. The Orioles defeated the Nationals, 7-2. Washington left-hander Matt Chico will face Baltimore right-hander Jaret Wright.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.