Patterson shows interest in Nats

Patterson shows interest in Nats

WASHINGTON -- Outfielder Corey Patterson is aware that the Nationals are looking for a center fielder and that they have interest in him.

Patterson could be a cheaper alternative if Washington can't sign a center fielder, such as Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter or Aaron Rowand. Patterson also could be the leadoff hitter that the Nationals are looking for. The leadoff spot proved to be a disaster for the team in 2007. Players batting leadoff hit a combined .243 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Patterson, a free agent, said on Tuesday that he would have interest in playing for the Nationals. He talked about the Nationals going into a new ballpark in 2008 and the fact that he played with hitting coach Lenny Harris when they were with the Cubs.

"[The stadium] would be very nice. I know a handful of guys on that team -- Felipe Lopez, Dmitri Young, who had a good year last year. ... I played with Lenny and he is a good guy. We played together for a year," Patterson said. "The Nationals did a lot better during the second half. It's definitely some things to build from there. I think that team will be a contender -- hopefully soon."

An eight-year veteran, the left-handed-hitting Patterson, 28, is an excellent center fielder and is considered a streaky hitter. He played with the Orioles in 2007 and hit .269 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs. His best season was in 2004, when he set career highs in home runs, RBIs and runs scored with the Cubs.

Patterson's biggest accomplishment is that he cut down on his strikeouts significantly. After averaging 124.7 strikeouts in his last four years with the Cubs, Patterson averaged only 79.5 whiffs during his two years with the Orioles.

"It's about maturing," Patterson said. "The more you do something, the more you get familiar with it and baseball is a game of repetition. You have to do it, day in and day out. Some guys catch on faster than others. It's sticking to my approach and not changing things, which allows me to be more consistent and cut down on my strikeouts."

General manager Jim Bowden was not available to comment on Patterson or the Nationals' needs for next season.

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