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The Washington Nationals' Flat-Brimmed Closer Blows A Save. Nick Johnson Goes Yard. ?'s For DC Fans.

The Flat-Brimmed Closer Chad Cordero has two outs on the Houston Astros in the bottom of the ninth today. Geoff Blum comes up with a man at second and the Washington Nationals holding on to a one-run lead over the Astros, ahead 3-2 after responding in both the first and fourth innings to retake leads after Houston rallied twice to tie the game...

...Lastings Milledge goes 1 for 4 with a run scored. Ryan Zimmerman's 1 for 3 with a run scored and 2 RBI's on a 2-run blast off Astros' reliver Chris Sampson, and Sampson also gives up Nick Johnson's first HR since returning to the field. Johnson goes 1 for 4 with 1 RBI. Ronnie Belliard has a 1 for 4 evening and his Spring average is at .439...Odalis Perez goes 6.0 innings, allowing 4 hits, 2 runs and 1 HR while striking out 6 batters...Luis Ayala and Jon Rauch follow Odalis Perez with scoreless relief innings, and the Nationals call on their closer, Chad Cordero...

...Danny Classen leads off the ninth against the Flat-Brimmed Closer. Cordero gives up a single up the middle. David Newhan grounds to second, Belliard takes the out at first. One down. Runner to second. Cordero gets two strikes on Edwin Maysonet, and gets a groundball for the second out of the ninth. Geoff Blum...takes a ball low from Cordero, who then throws a curve that can't find the plate, fastball...Uh-Oh!...Blum lifts it out of the park, and the Astros take a 4-3 lead on a 2-run Blum blast. Astros righty Chad Moeller comes back out for his second inning of work and retires the Nationals in order to walk away with the win. 4-3 Astros.

...When the Washington Nationals signed Bret Boone to a Minor League deal on February 18th of this year, the 38-year old infielder's intentions were relayed in an article by writer Bill Ladson entitled, "Nats sign Boone to Minor League deal", in  which Mr. Ladson wrote:

"Boone made it clear that he wants to be the starting second baseman and is not willing to stay in the Minor Leagues for a lengthy period of time. That may be hard to do because the Nationals already have competition at middle infield.

...And now it appears that the Nationals are set to test Mr. Boone's definition of  a "lengthy period of time" as Bill Ladson is reporting in an article at, "Nats reassign Boone to Minors", that Boone was sent to the Triple-AAA Columbus Clippers, the Nationals Minor League affiliate, where Boone will get as many AB's as possible, while the Nationals decide what to do at second base with either Felipe Lopez or Ronnie Belliard?...

Tomorrow afternoon Washington takes on the New York Mets for the second time this week with Matt Chico on the mound for the Nationals at Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field, the Mets Spring home, against the Mets' Pedro Martinez, who has one 4.0 inning start this Spring, giving up 0 runs, 4 hits, and striking out 4 in a 7-4 win over Detroit, while Chico, (1-1, 4.61 ERA) in 4 starts this Spring, has given up 7 runs in 13.2 innings, over which he's walked 7 and K'd 8.

?'s for Nationals' Fans

John Lannan or Matt Chico for the starting rotation? Who should the Nationals choose?

Will Paul Lo Duca makes his Major League level Spring debut against his former team tomorrow?

Can Chico nail down a spot in the rotation with a good outing?

Is anyone worried about Chad Cordero?

With Bret Boone gone, does the starting spot at second belong to Ronnie Belliard? And what about Felipe Lopez telling's Bill Ladson yesterday, in an article entitled, "Lopez adamant about starting role", that as far as he's concerned, he should be starting:

"'Being on the bench? No. [Heck] no,' Lopez said. 'I feel good out there. The numbers are not showing it, but I'm hitting the ball hard. I'm playing great defense. I feel good. I would like to stay here, but I would not be happy on the bench.'"

Ronnie Belliard told Mr. Ladson, in the same article, that he knows all he can do is go out and play since the decisions out of his hands:

"'It doesn't matter to me. Whatever they decide. I already said that to them. I'm not going to get upset," Belliard said. "They gave me the chance to play when Cristian went down. Whatever my role will be, I'll take it."

Is a trade necessary to solve the second base logjam?