Notes: Patterson happy and relaxed

Notes: Patterson happy and relaxed

VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander John Patterson was scheduled to pitch against the Mets on Thursday night at Space Coast Stadium, but the game was canceled because of rain.

Patterson will now throw in the accelerated camp on Friday and go three innings or 45 pitches. He will then pitch in an exhibition game on short rest in order to stay on a normal schedule.

Unlike in previous years, Patterson said he is very relaxed, and that's because he is healthy for the first time since 2005, when he recorded a 3.13 ERA and 185 strikeouts. The last time Patterson pitched was last Saturday, against the Orioles. He went two innings and gave up one run on two hits.

"I just focus on what I'm doing," Patterson said. "I feel real relaxed. I'm happy and I'm ready to work."

Injury report: Catcher Johnny Estrada's right elbow is not improving, and he is expected to receive a cortisone injection soon. Estrada has been shut down since last week because of inflammation in the elbow.

"I haven't been able to do anything," Estrada said. "I feel [horrible] right now. I haven't been able to hit and throw."

If Estrada isn't ready by Opening Day, it appears that veterans Chad Moeller and Wil Nieves will fight to be Paul Lo Duca's backup. As of now the Nationals don't want Jesus Flores to spend another year as a backup.

"We don't see Flores as a backup here unless Paul is not ready from the get-go to catch four or five times a week," manager Manny Acta said. "That doesn't mean we can't change our mind, and we reserve the right to do it. We said all along that if Flores can go and play every single day in the Major or Minor Leagues, we don't mind that. We just don't want the kid to play twice or three times a week."

Lo Duca (left knee) continues to get better, and was able to take hitting practice and catch a bullpen session. He is expected to play in exhibition games by March 15.

Right-hander Shawn Hill (right forearm) played catch with pitching coach Randy St. Claire on Thursday without any problems. Hill, who threw as far as 120 feet, will play catch again on Saturday.

First baseman Dmitri Young (sore left side) took ground balls and batting practice without any problems. He hopes to start playing in the accelerated camp by this weekend.

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Rob Mackowiak played in an accelerated game on Thursday morning and didn't have any problems with his right abdomen, which he hurt against the Marlins last Friday. Mackowiak is expected to play in another accelerated game on Friday and hopes to rejoin the Nationals sometime next week.

"All your strength isn't back yet, but it's going to take some time. You have to adjust to it and continue to play," Mackowiak said.

Aaron Boone (left knee) played first base for the first time in an accelerated game on Thursday. Acta is hoping that Boone will be ready to play in an exhibition game sometime this weekend.

He'll be there: Left-hander Mike Bacsik will report to Minor League camp on Friday and is planning to meet with general manager Jim Bowden and assistant GM Bob Boone to talk about his future. Bacsik plans on staying in the organization even if it means going to Double-A Harrisburg or Class A Potomac.

Bacsik became famous after surrendering Barry Bonds' 756th home run, which broke Hank Aaron's record for homers in a career.

Coming up: The Nationals travel to Jupiter, Fla., on Friday to play the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Game time is 1:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Garrett Mock will make the start for Washington, with left-hander Andrew Miller starting for the Marlins.

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