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The Washington Nationals Just Can't Hit Penny...Odalis Debuts, Casto to Columbus, and Orr.

Los Angeles Dodgers' right-hander Brad Penny is (12-5) in 20 starts in his career against the Nationals/Expos, so it probably shouldn't be a surprise that the soon-to-be 30-year old LA starter once again dominated Washington on the way to a 6-1 Dodgers' win this afternoon. With today's win, Penny is now (1-0) with a 0.90 ERA in 3 starts and 10.0 IP this Spring.

Brad Penny allowed just one hit in 5.0 IP with 1 K, 10 ground outs and 4 fly balls from the Nationals, who, with the exception of Pete Orr's double, didn't touch Penny, and scored their only run on an RBI single, again from Orr, in the seventh off Dodgers' reliever Scott Proctor.

Pete Orr's 2 for 3 performance raised his average this Spring to .367, with 11 hits in 30 at bats, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR and 4 RBI's, but Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga isn't optimistic about Orr's chances of making the Washington roster, as Mr. Svrluga writes in his, "Nationals Journal", post this evening entitled, "Dodgers 6 Nationals 1":

"He (Orr) really doesn't have much chance to make this team, but he's driving the ball now. Throw him in the 'it'd be nice if they could trade him' category."

Alex Escobar got the start in left this afternoon, and went 0 for 3 with a walk a K and two runners stranded. Escobar's got just 3 hits in 27 at bats this Spring, with a double and 2 RBI's. Escobar spent 7 seasons in the Minors in the Mets' and Indians' systems, before signing with Washington in 2006. In his first campaign in DC, which started in May of '06, Escobar hit .356 in 33 games, with 31 hits in 33 games, 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR's, 18 RBI's, and 2 steals.

Alex Escobar hasn't ever played more than 46 games in one season in the Majors, and now 12 years after the Mets signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Valencia,Venezuela, Escobar is still trying to find out what he could accomplish in a full season on the field...if he could just stay healthy. (ed. note-" I am now the 1,356th writer to string together some variation of a sentence around the theme, "What could a healthy Escobar do?"

One person who surely won't be stepping up in left to start the '08 season is Kory Casto, who was optioned to Triple-AAA Columbus this afternoon according to's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Nationals send Casto to Columbus", in which Mr. Ladson writes that Casto:

"...had known since the beginning of Spring Training that he wasn't likely to be placed on the 25-man roster because of his poor 2007 campaign.

Casto hit just .150 this Spring in 20 at bats, with 1 double, 5 walks and 3 K's, and if his 2008 season ends up as bad as his '07 season in Columbus, Nationals/Expos' fans may have seen the last of Casto in a cursive "W".

Two positive notes for the Nationals today...

Odalis Perez debuted on the hill, and even though he gave up 5 hits and 4 runs in 4.1 IP, with 1 K, 2 walks and a HR to Dodgers' outfielder Andre Ethier,'s Bill Ladson gave Odalis a mostly-positive review for the day's outing in his article, "Perez has plenty to prove with Nats", where Mr. Ladson notes that the lefty starter:

"...shut out Los Angeles in the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth, when he gave up a wind-aided two-run homer to Andre Ethier. Perez was charged with two more runs when left-hander Eude Brito gave up a two-run single to Rafael Furcal in the fifth."

After giving up Perez's runs, Eude Brito gave up two of his own, which at the time had LA ahead 6-0. Saul Rivera worked two scoreless after Brito, lowering his Spring ERA to 1.13, and hard-throwing Joel Hanrahan pitched another perfect frame to make it 8.2 IP without a run allowed.

Tomorrow the Nationals are live on against the Orioles, and I should be able to catch the first few innings with John Patterson and Daniel Cabrera facing off on the hill at the Orioles' Spring home, Fort Lauderdale Stadium in sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.