Inbox: Taking inventory on pitching

Inbox: Taking inventory on pitching

Why did the Nationals release Shawn Hill? Will the team miss Odalis Perez? Those are two of the many questions Nats fans want to know during Spring Training. Here are answers to some of those queries.

I've been a fan of Hill's since he made his debut with the Expos in 2004. I don't understand why the Nationals released a man with his great work ethic. The team has had patience with first baseman Nick Johnson. I think you will agree Hill had tremendous upside.
-- Ben F., Suffolk, Va.

There is no question that Hill has an upside, but the team's patience ran out. There is no guarantee that Hill would be healthy for a full season. Here's what assistant general manager Mike Rizzo said about the Hill situation on Wednesday: "It's hard to pencil him into the rotation every fifth day when you are not sure what he has when he gets to the ballpark. You can only go by what you know on your track record of the player.

"We thought the uncertainty of what he is going to bring to us on a daily basis was really a factor behind us releasing him today. He is healthy for now, yes. But we don't know how long that is going to be. That affects how we plan, not only for the short term for this season, but for the future."

How is Johnson looking this spring?
-- Lou L., Sacramento, Calif.

I think he is looking good this spring. What I want to see is Johnson playing a full season. That would be a huge boost for the Nationals.

Do you think that the Nationals are going to miss Perez? Last year, he ate up a lot of innings and had a decent ERA. I never understood why the Nats didn't reward him with a Major League contract.
-- Phil I., Rockville, Md.

The team will not miss Perez under any circumstances. It's not like he was a Cy Young Award winner. I've said this for the last two years. It's time to play the kids. I would rather see Collin Balester, Shairon Martis and Jordan Zimmermann get the chance before I see Perez on the mound again.

You said recently to not get ahead of ourselves when talking about right-hander Steven Strasburg -- but how can we not? He is the greatest prospect to come along since right-hander Mark Prior, and we have the No. 1 pick. Are you saying the Nats aren't going to pick him?
-- Michael S. Richmond, Va.

That's not what I meant. All I was saying was, let's wait until late May to think about Strasberg and see where he goes. I understand your excitement, however. Strasberg has had a great college career. It will be interesting to see how much money he will get after he is drafted.

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Right-hander Jason Bergmann has yet to give up an earned run. I think he is really making a case to make the team and showing how much he wants to stay in the Majors. What are his chances?
-- Alex C., Montreal

It looks like he has a chance to make the team, but I've seen him have a good Spring Training before. I want to see him put it together during the season. During his career, Bergmann has been inconsistent. There are days when he dominates the opposing hitters and other days it looks like it's a home run derby.

Is Jesus Colome still alive in the competition to make the bullpen? You don't have his name listed on the depth chart.
-- Joseph M., Westwood, NJ

He is not listed on depth chart because he hasn't made the team. He is in the running for a bullpen spot, though. But he is just like Bergmann. He has to show more consistency on the mound.

I would like to see the Nationals hire Frank Howard as a hitting coach. Is this possible?
-- Alan N., Washington D.C.

The Nationals are doing fine with Rick Eckstein. But they are trying to get Howard into the fold.

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