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03/03/10 2:38 PM EST

Stammen to get ball for Nats on Friday

Right-hander's fate as starter or reliever not yet determined

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Craig Stammen will pitch in his first exhibition game Friday against the Braves at 1:05 p.m. ET. It will be his first appearance on the mound since Aug. 29 of last year.

Stammen missed the month of September because of bone chips in his right elbow. He had problems with the elbow all season, but doesn't have any regrets about not fixing the problem earlier.

Stammen felt he needed to prove to the organization that he belonged in the big leagues. Stammen started 19 games, going 4-7 with a 5.11 ERA.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would say I would probably do it again. I don't think it's the right answer," Stammen said. "When you are in the big leagues, you are given a tremendous opportunity, one that you don't get often.

"As long as you can go out there, do what you can do and are not killing the team, you might as well keep going until you can't go any more. That's how I've always been. It's a blue-collar attitude until you can't go any more."

How is Stammen's elbow after the surgery?

"No problems with the elbow. No problems with anything," Stammen said. "It's probably the best my body has felt in Spring Training as long as I can remember."

Stammen will pitch in the exhibition season as both a starter and a reliever. Where he will end up by Opening Day is anyone's guess. Stammen has experience as a reliever. He was a closer at the University of Dayton in 2004 and came out of the bullpen 20 times since entering professional baseball the following season.

"There are several of us who are in that spot where we could be starters if we pitch really well in Spring Training," Stammen said. "If we don't pitch quite as well or they see a need for us in the bullpen, we might go there. It's really not that big of a deal. It's one of those things where they need to fill spots.

"I have experience being a reliever. I have the mentality for it and understand the difference between starting and relieving. To me, it's going out there and getting hitters out."

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