"Chris is a good player," Bowden said. "He is the kind of blue-collar player that America
loves to see. He is quick to the ball [as a hitter]. He is a
good defensive player. He gets good jumps, good angles. His uniform is
always dirty by the first inning. He is a throwback player.
"We know he is on the team. The only question is, who is going to start in
left field? The way he has been swinging the bat, he is in good competition
to be the everyday left fielder."
Church got off to a slow start but appears to be close to getting his swing
back. On Saturday, he had three hits and drove in four runs against the
Mets. On Sunday, Church went hitless in three at-bats.
But Acta sounded like he and Bowden were not on the same page regarding the
left-field situation. When asked if Snelling is competing for a starting
spot, Acta said: "He has got to make the team first, and then we'll go from
there. You can't rule anything out in life."
Acta also said: "Church is the guy, I think. Snelling is playing well and
pushing the issue."
Asked if there is a chance for Church to be the starting center fielder,
Acta said the position belongs to Nook Logan because of his defense. Church played center field on Saturday, but Acta said he
wanted Church to get some work at the position as a possible backup.
"We said all along that we are going to go with Nook playing center field
and that's what we are going to do," Acta said. "I wanted to expose [Church] out there, so
we don't throw him in the middle of the fire during the season."
The Big Nasty: John Patterson pitched in his first exhibition game
since March 2, and the right-hander gave up three runs in three innings against the
Marlins. All three runs were scored in the third inning. Patterson blamed
himself for bad pitch selection to Hanley Ramirez, who singled home the
first run. Mike Jacobs would later hit a two-run home run.
Patterson was supposed to go another inning, but he was close to his pitch
count when the third inning ended.
"I used a lot of pitches and went into some deep counts, but I felt good," Patterson said. "No
problems there. I felt I was good out of the windup, but
a little shaky from the stretch, which is how I've been lately. So we are
still working on that a little bit."
Between starts, Patterson was pitching in the team's accelerated intrasquad
Injury report: Acta said that right-hander Jason Simontacchi is going
to skip a turn because of tightness in his right groin. The injury is not
Did you know: Logan is tied for the team lead in walks this spring with seven.
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Coming up: The Nationals return to Space Coast
Stadium to play the Dodgers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Washington
right-hander Shawn Hill will face Dodgers left-hander Randy Wolf.