Who Is Luis Jimenez? Why Not Sign Zimmerman? Is Milledge For Real?

Luis Jimenez is starting to draw attention to himself in the Washington Nationals' camp after hitting his third home run of the Spring on Saturday. The 6'0'' 200 lb left-handed hitting first baseman was signed as an undrafted amateur free agent out of Barquisimeto, Venezuela in 1999 by the Oakland Athletics, and over 7 Minor League seasons stretching from the A's Rookie level affiliate in Arizona to the end of the `07 season with Boston's AAA Pawtucket team, Jimenez has steadily risen through the ranks as he's combined to hit .286 with 118 doubles, 85 HR's and 375 RBI's.

Signed along with 19 other Minor League free agents on November 27, 2007, Jimenez, who'll turn 26 in May, according to thebaseballcube.com, is 3 for 11 so far this Spring, with all 3 hits leaving the park, 4 RBI's and 2 walks. While he most likely won't inject himself into the battle for first base between Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson, he's certainly making the Nationals' coaching staff take notice should any injury create an opening in the upcoming season...

...Ryan Zimmerman had his contract renewed yesterday for $465,000 when he and the Nationals couldn't agree on a long-term deal. According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Nats renew Zimmerman's contract", Nationals GM Jim Bowden said:

"We are going forward to get a multiyear deal done," Bowden said. "I'm very hopeful that it does take place at some point. We want Ryan to start and finish his career as a National. As I told him yesterday, I look forward to the day that number 11 is hanging on the outfield wall -- the first Washington National to retire in 20 years."

Mr. Ladson also quotes Zimmerman in the article, with the young third baseman, who will be entering his fourth season in the Majors, (third full), clearly understanding:

"It's just part of the system. I'm not upset about anything," Zimmerman said. "They have control [of me] for three years, and that's how it goes. Many people before me have done it the same way."

Zimmerman's response on the field...Yesterday he went 2 for 4 with a HR and 4 RBI's. Sunday...Zimmerman went 0 for 3 with an RBI...

Is Lastings Milledge for real? My brother Scout, Braves Fan and Source For All Things Baseball keeps telling me that Spring Training batting averages don't count for anything. You never know what pitcher the hits came off, or what the situation was in the game when the hit occurred, but I can't help but get excited about Milledge's numbers so far this Spring.

Milledge ends the day Sunday, after going 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI, batting .367 with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 7 RBI's and 4 steals in nine games. Is there any chance that Milledge's bat waggle isn't the only part of his game that emulates the great Gary Sheffield? Can Milledge turn what he surely perceives as the slight of being traded by the New York Mets into an All-Star campaign? The Nationals have to hope so...

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