Mailbag: Was Perez a solid pickup?

Mailbag: Was lefty Perez a solid pickup?

Spring Training has begun, and fans want to know if the Nationals will be better in 2008. Here are some answers to their questions.

What do you think about the Nationals signing left-hander Odalis Perez? Personally, I feel that getting him for a Minor League contract was a steal.
-- John G., Arlington, Va.

I thought it was a great pickup because they needed to protect themselves if Shawn Hill or John Patterson went down with an injury. As we see now, Hill has a forearm injury and we don't know how long he will be out of action.

With general manager Jim Bowden offering players second chances, maybe he could sign Barry Bonds to a one-year contract.
-- Dennis E., Durham, Ont.

I doubt that will happen because Bonds is done as a National League player. He can't run or field like he once did. I think he belongs in the American League as a designated hitter.

What is your impression of Nationals Park?
-- Leonard W., Silver Spring, Md.

I think it's a beautiful ballpark, and I'm looking forward to working in the press box on March 29, when the Nationals play the Orioles. Now that the team is in a new park, I just hope the position players will stop complaining about how they can't hit home runs.

With all the trades and pickups of young talent, are the Nationals giving up on shortstop Ian Desmond? I saw him in Spring Training in 2005, and he was raw but impressive.
-- Ed K., Harrisonburg, Va.

I don't think they have given up on him, but Desmond has to start hitting and fielding his position. In '05, Desmond was a guy who could hit to all fields and was making plays that were similar to Derek Jeter. In fact, I thought Desmond could make the Opening Day roster that year. But since then, he has had problems hitting for average and making a lot of errors. But let's keep in mind that Desmond is 22 years old and still is learning to play the game the right way.

Have a question about the Nationals?
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Do you think Lastings Milledge will celebrate his first Nationals home run by giving fans high-fives on the way to the outfield like he did in New York?
-- Scott S., Vienna, Va.

I would love to see it. I think it would be good for the game to see a player like Milledge interact with the fans.

I haven't seen anything on TV games for this year's Spring Training. Will there be any?
-- B. Moore, Germantown, Md.

MASN will kick off the 2008 season with bonus Spring Training coverage on Tuesday, when the Nationals host the Dodgers at Space Coast Stadium. On March 16, MASN will televise the game between the Nationals and Orioles.

Do you think right-hander Tyler Clippard has a shot at making the rotation? I watched him against the Mets on ESPN last year, and he was lights out.
-- Michael A., Middletown, N.J.

There is no question Clippard has a shot to be in the rotation. In his one outing this spring, I thought he looked pretty good. He still has to work on his mechanics, which is one of the reasons he was hit hard during his brief stint with the Yankees last year.

Why didn't the Nationals sign Ramon Ortiz after his successful performance in the Caribbean World Series?
-- Anonymous

The Nationals will not even consider a pitcher like Ortiz, who is healthy but inconsistent on the mound. Ortiz played for the Nationals in 2006, and he went 11-16 with a 5.57 ERA.

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