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06/14/09 12:21 PM ET

Patterson happy for another shot in bigs

Veteran outfielder gets chance to play with Willingham out

ST. PETERSBURG -- It was a long day for Corey Patterson on Saturday, so it was understandable to see him sitting quietly in front of his locker Sunday morning looking at scouting reports and sipping a cup of coffee.

After a frantic callup from Triple-A Syracuse that left him with less than two hours to get on a flight down to Tampa, an arrival at the ballpark by the fourth inning of Saturday night's game, and a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning, Patterson could certainly have used a caffeinated pick-me-up.

Not to mention he started in right field against the Rays in Sunday's afternoon game.

Patterson, a 29-year-old outfielder in his first season with Washington, was recalled Saturday from the Minor Leagues after outfielder Josh Willingham went on the bereavement list following the tragic death of his brother.

Patterson woke up Saturday morning to a message left on his cell phone -- which he had turned off the night before and had forgotten to turn back on -- that said to hurry up and get his things ready. He had an 11:45 a.m. ET flight out of Syracuse to Washington, D.C., and then down to Tampa.

"So I threw stuff in the bag, went from Syracuse to D.C. and then D.C. to here," Patterson said. "It was a long day."

Patterson didn't arrive at Tampa International Airport until around 5:45 p.m., which did not leave him much time to get to the ballpark for the game's 6:05 start. He got dressed hurriedly and made it to the dugout by the fourth inning. A few innings later, he was in the batter's box with two outs in the ninth facing Rays reliever Lance Cormier. He struck out swinging.

Patterson got another chance on Sunday. He hit sixth in the order and started in right field.

"We know what he can do defensively," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "He was swinging the bat very good in Triple-A, so we'll give him a look and see what he can do. We know what he brings to the table. He has the talent to be a very good player."

In the meantime, Patterson, who has eight years of big league experience spent between the Cubs, Orioles and Reds, will try to make the most of his opportunity. He was hitting .302 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 39 games with Syracuse.

"Unfortunately, under the circumstances, I heard what happened to Josh's brother," Patterson said. "I wish him and his family nothing but the best. But, definitely, it is good to be back. I just hope I can contribute."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.