John Patterson...RELEASED? (whispers)...CHICO!! CHICO!!! CHICO!!!

As the Washington Nationals prepare take the field at Space Coast Stadium in the Grapefruit League home of Viera, Florida against the Houston Astros in another Spring Training tilt, John Patterson is preparing to relocate to another team as the Nationals announced today that they had released the 29-year old, oft-injured, right-handed starter and were prepared to go ahead with a young starter like Matt Chico or John Lannan rather than waiting to see if Patterson could ever returned to his '05 form.

GAME REPORT...Miguel Tejada hits a line-drive dinger off Nationals' starter Odalis Perez with two down in the top of the first giving the Astros a 1-0 lead. Perez strikes out Lance Berkman to end the top of the first. Lastings Milledge lines a single over second baseman Geoff Blum's head. Ryan Zimmer... THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Ryan Zimmerman hits an opposite field blast that allows Milledge to walk home and gives the Nationals a 2-1 lead after one.

...According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Patterson released by Nationals", the release was, "...based on the pitcher's lack of performance," and Mr. Ladson quotes Nationals' GM Jim Bowden states "clearly":

"'Obviously, we thought we could get him back to where he was three years ago, and it never happened,' Bowden said."

Patterson, for his part, has no ill will toward his former employer, as he's quoted in a post by Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga in Mr. Svrluga's "Nationals Journal" post entitled, "John Patterson Released [With Update]", in which Patterson tells the press:

"'I have great memories of D.C. and this organization. I'll always remember what it feels like to wear this uniform.  Jim (GM Bowden) stuck by me as long as he could stand by me.'"

Perhaps it was all the starts Patterson made in the Arizona organization over 7 seasons in which he started 124 games, going (31-43) before he returned to Montreal...(the team that had originally drafted and then embarassingly lost Patterson's rights)...that took their toll on Patterson's arm and resulted in the repeated injuries and surgeries that led to his release.

Patterson debuted in Montreal in 2004, posting a (4-7) record in 19 starts with a 5.03 ERA in 98.1 IP, over which he accumulated 99 K's, but it was the '05 season, the Nationals' first in DC, for which Patterson will be remembered in Washington, as the lanky righty went (9-7) with a 3.13 ERA in 31 starts and recorded 185 K's in 198.1 innings.

Nationals' Manager Manny Acta told Washington Post sports writer Barry Svrluga in another post on washingtonpost.com's "Nationals Journal", entitled, "Management's side", that the:

"...decision came down to 'the fact the progress wasn't there, and it was to a point where he was going to [try to] rehab at the major league level, and we'd rather let the younger kids go out there and develop. This had nothing to do with one particular start or outing. It was the whole spring training.'"

The Nationals reportedly told Patterson that he was welcome to return to the organization and work his way up from the Minors...

GAME REPORT...NICK JOHNSON GOES DEEP...with his first HR of the Spring to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, after the Astros had tied the game on another Miguel Tejada hit in the top of the frame...

More on Patterson...Bret Boone's Demotion...and the rest of tonight's game with the Astros later tonight...

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