Notes: Patterson kicks off his spring

Notes: Patterson kicks off his spring

VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander John Patterson made his first start of the exhibition season on Saturday afternoon and gave up one run in two innings against the Orioles.

It was his first start since July 9, 2006. He missed the rest of the season because of a pinched nerve in his right forearm. The problem has been surgically repaired.

In the first inning of Saturday's game, Patterson was able to get two quick outs but then gave up three consecutive hits, one of them an RBI single to Jay Payton, before getting the final out.

Patterson ended up having an easy 1-2-3 inning in the second. He used every one of his pitches except for the slider.

"I wasn't real comfortable on the mound for the first couple of hitters," Patterson said. "After that, I felt a little bit better. I was around the plate, threw quite a few strikes. I'm still looking for my release point on some of my breaking balls."

Manager Manny Acta said that it was refreshing to see Patterson, the only pitcher who is guaranteed a spot in the rotation, throw the ball.

"His breaking ball was not very sharp, but to see him go out there and throw the ball as nice and free as he did, he was good," Acta said.

Not as good: Joel Hanrahan, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, gave up five runs in one-third of an inning. He also surrendered three hits and walked three.

"Everything [went wrong]," Hanrahan said. "I felt like my mechanics were a little off, like I was rushing toward the hitters."

Contract talks: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, will meet with general manager Jim Bowden and team president Stan Kasten on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET to talk about a contract.

Zimmerman has fewer than three years of service time and the Nationals can automatically renew his contract before the March 11 deadline, but Zimmerman feels a deal will get done.

Zimmerman said on Friday that he would like a multi-year deal, which would allow him to avoid arbitration.

And baby makes three: Jordan Schneider, the wife of catcher Brian Schneider, gave birth to a girl on Saturday morning. Tatum Elizabeth Schneider weighed in at seven pounds, 14 ounces. Mother and daughter are doing well.

"I watched the whole thing. It's amazing," said Schneider on watching his wife give birth. "I'm going to say that [Tatum] resembles me."

Jordan was expected to give birth later in the week, but she went into labor late Friday night. Schneider was given Saturday and Sunday off and is expected to return on Monday, but he didn't rule out missing a few more days. He wants to make sure that his wife is 100 percent before he returns to camp.

"I want to make sure that I'm here for her, but I will get [to camp] as soon as possible. But family comes first. I want to make sure that she is OK," he said.

Hamilton out of the running: The Nationals have been looking for a farm director since Feb. 17, when Andy Dunn resigned. Former big leaguer Darryl Hamilton interviewed for the job but has removed himself from consideration. Hamilton is currently working in the Commissioner's Office.

When approached about Hamilton, Bowden confirmed that the Nationals had talked with the ex-outfielder, who played with the Brewers, Rangers, Giants, Rockies and Mets. Phone messages left with Hamilton were not returned.

The Nationals remain private in their search for a farm director.

Injury report: First baseman Travis Lee, who missed the last two games because of right oblique strain, took batting practice on Friday and Saturday and didn't feel any pain.

"I'm to the point where I don't even think [about the injury]," Lee said.

Lee is hoping to play on Monday or Tuesday.

FYI: Acta said that the first round of cuts will take place on Thursday.

Stats of the day: After two games, Zimmerman is 4-for-5 (.800) with one home run and three RBIs.

Did you know? The Nationals are on a six-game Spring Training losing streak. They lost their last four exhibition games in 2006 and their first two games of 2007.

Be a part of the mailbag: The Nationals mailbag runs every Monday. Send your questions now.

Coming up: The Nationals play split-squad games on Sunday -- one against the Dodgers at Space Coast Stadium and the other against the Astros in Kissimmee. Washington right-hander Jason Simontacchi will face Los Angeles right-hander Brett Tomko, while Washington's Jason Bergmann will square off against Houston left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. Both games start at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.