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12/08/09 1:20 AM EST

Nats eye free-agent righty Garland

Hurler fits mold of solid veteran/mentor club seeks

INDIANAPOLIS -- A week after saying that he didn't see the Nationals pursuing free-agent pitcher Jon Garland, general manager Mike Rizzo announced during his Monday session with the local media that the team is interested in the right-hander.

The Nationals are searching for a veteran pitcher to help their young rotation, and Garland may be a good fit. He is an innings-eater and has won 117 games in 10 big league seasons. This past season, Garland, 30, pitched for the D-backs and Dodgers, going 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA in 33 starts.

"We have interest in Jon Garland. We have the whole time," Rizzo said. "He is one of the 10 names we have talked about the whole winter."

Nats outfielder/infielder Willie Harris considers Garland one of his best friends in baseball. Together, they helped the White Sox win a World Series title in 2005. There is no doubt in Harris' mind that Garland would make a good mentor for the starting staff.

In a phone interview, Harris gave an example of how good a teammate Garland is. When Harris first joined the White Sox in 2002, it was Garland who wanted Harris to live with him the rest of the season. Harris accepted the offer and lived with Garland rent-free for the year.

"The Nationals will not make a mistake signing Jon Garland," Harris said. "He is not loud. He works hard. He has been in John Lannan's and Jordan Zimmermann's shoes. Jon can help them a lot. He will make a good teacher."

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