Open Thread- Nationals Get Their First Shot At The NY Mets. An Early "Hate Week" Edition.

Washington and New York were supposed to face off for the first time this Spring back on March 6th, but the game was canceled due to rain, so instead, tomorrow's meeting at Space Coast Stadium, the Nationals' Spring home in Viera, Florida is the first of '08 between the NL East rivals.

Mike O'Connor will be on the hill for DC against the Mets' left-hander Oliver Perez. O'Connor's (1-0) with a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 IP this Spring, allowing 3 hits, 2 earned runs, and 4 walks while striking out 5. Perez has no decisions in 3 starts, posting a 7.27 ERA in 8.2 IP, and giving up 14 hits and 7 ER's with 3 walks and 3 K's.

Former Nationals' catcher Brian Schneider has seen very little action this Spring, getting just 1 hit in 5 at bats in the 3 games he's in which he's appeared...(though that 1 hit was a HR), as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Ryan Church, the other former National traded to NY to bring Lastings Milledge to DC, suffered a concussion earlier this Spring in an onfield collision with fellow Met Marlon Anderson. Church is hitting .238 in 21 at bats, with no extra base hits or RBI's in 10 games. MEANWHILE...Milledge has fit in nicely with the Nationals, putting up a .333 AVG in 13 games and 42 at bats, over which he's collected 14 hits, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 8 RBI's and 5 steals...(ed. note- "I still haven't found many Mets' fans who like this trade.")

After O'Connor the Nationals have their A-Bullpen scheduled to throw, with Joel Hanrahan, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero lined up for a few batters each...and in case you hadn't noticed, not one of the three has given up a run yet this Spring, and there are only 4 hits allowed amongst the three in 18.2 IP. The Mets are set to follow Oliver Perez with relievers Ricardo Rincon and "Generic" Joe Smith.

Ryan Zimmerman could be back on the field tomorrow, according to Washington Post baseball writer Barry Svrluga, who writes in a post from Saturday on his "Nationals Journal" entitled, "Injury updates, the lineup -- and Casto optioned", assuring worried DC baseball fans with word from the Nationals' Manager:

"Manny Acta said the problem is not getting worse, and that he's just being cautious. 'It's playable,' Acta said. 'We don't want to take any chances.' I would guess we'd see him Monday against the Mets."

...and the post also mentions the possibility of Elijah Dukes returning on Monday, as Mr. Svrluga writes:

"Elijah Dukes's hamstring is going to keep him out for the weekend. Acta will try to get him in there on Monday."

Finally, a quick word for the Mets...Leave Lastings Milledge alone.

BIG ?'s Remaining For Nationals' Fans...

Who is going to be catching on Opening Day...Lo Duca hasn't played a game and neither has Johnny Estrada? Both are new catchers who have to get to know the staff...(When it's decided!)...Might it be wise to keep Jesus Flores around until both are 100%. (ed. note- "With my track record on predictions, this means Flores will be sent to Minor League camp tomorrow.

Who will be in the starting rotation two weeks from now? Will Shawn Hill return? Can John Patterson regain his form? Will Odalis Perez prove an effective starter? Mike O'Connor? John Lannan? Tim Redding? Matt Chico?

Johnson or DY? It's still out there too?...and Orioles' announcer Gary Thorne said during today's broadcast that Manager Manny Acta was willing to wait until the day before Opening Night to name the starting first baseman...How 'bout a hint, Mr. Acta?

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