Notes: Perez takes first pitch this spring
Left-hander throws in accelerated camp with promising results
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Odalis Perez was in the accelerated camp on Tuesday and pitched in his first game of the spring. He pitched three innings without giving up a run or a hit. He struck out four batters in the contest.
Of the first 20 pitches he threw, only one went for a ball. Perez cannot pitch in a Major League exhibition game until he gets his working visa.
After his outing, Perez, a non-roster invitee, said he is on a mission to get his value up again and win a lot of games for the Nationals. Perez is coming off a season in which he went 8-11 with a 5.57 ERA for the Royals. His best season occurred with the Dodgers in 2001, when he went 15-10 with a 3.00.
"I feel good. I've been working out the last 2 1/2 months. With the work I've done, I'm getting some results," Perez said. "Everything was working. I was mixing all of my pitches. I'm here to do my job. I want to represent the Nationals. I believe I can help fix this team. I look forward to be out there every time."
Manager Manny Acta was impressed by what he saw from Perez, who played for Acta in the World Baseball Classic.
"He threw the ball real good," Acta said. "He was able to throw his changeup over the plate, especially down in the zone. I know he is not facing Major League hitters, but it was impressive he was able to command his pitches."
Man in the middle: Center fielder Lastings Milledge is off to a great start, going 7-for-16 (.438) with a team-leading five RBIs this spring. But he is not satisfied with his performance. He said he wants to learn to get better reads whenever a ball is hit to him in center field.
"I want to be able to cover more ground," Milledge said. "Right now, I cover a little bit above average. I want to be All-Star caliber. I want to be able to make every play possible back there for the pitcher.
Milledge also wants to hit the ball to right field on a consistent basis. Milledge was mostly a pull hitter with the Mets.
"I applied hitting to right field at the end of the season last year. I've been working real hard to become pure hitter and worry about the power later," he said.
On the mound: Left-hander Matt Chico didn't have a good outing on Tuesday. He gave up three runs in three innings in a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers. Chico said was behind in the count throughout the game because of mechanical issues. Chico has problems shortening his stride and straightening out his body on the mound.
With Chico on the mound, Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead by scoring two runs in the second inning and one in the next inning. Mark Sweeney had an RBI groundout, while John Lindsey had an RBI single in the second inning. The left-handed-hitting Andre Ethier hit a solo home run in the third inning.
Cutdown time: The Nationals made roster cuts on Tuesday and left-hander Ross Detwiler, who was the team's first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was the most recognizable player. He appeared in only one game and gave up two runs on three hits.
According to Detwiler, Acta told him that it was best to get his innings in Minor League camp. Before camp began, Detwiler was looked upon as a person who could possibly start the season the bullpen.
"It's not a matter of anything I really did. I just need my innings," Detwiler said. "Pitchers are starting to go five or six innings and there are too many people up here. In order for everyone to get their work in, people have to go to other places."
Bergmann on the mound: Right-hander Jason Bergmann pitched the nightcap against the Dodgers and lasted three innings while giving up two runs. Acta said that Bergmann relied too much on his fastball and didn't throw enough first-pitch strikes.Throwing the fastball is why Bergmann was burned in the second inning. He gave up solo home runs to Andy LaRoche and George Lombard, who has always had problems hitting breaking balls during his career. Bergmann said he was reluctant to throw his breaking pitches because he couldn't get them over for strikes. "I wish I had my offspeed [pitches] working [against Lombard], because I would have loved to have thrown it in that situation," Bergmann said. "I didn't have a good feel for my curveball. We tried to throw it more and more in the third inning. They were all right, but I wasn't throwing them for strikes." Power bat: First baseman Luis Jimenez knows his chances of making the 25-man roster are slim, but he gave a good showing against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Jimenez hit two home runs, including the game-winner against left-hander Joe Beimel. "It was very nice to see him do that kind of stuff," Acta said. "He's a young hitter, and we are giving him an opportunity to play. He might be able to open some eyes, not only for us, but a lot of people in baseball. Jimenez, 25, has been in professional baseball for nine years and played for six organizations, including the Athletics and Orioles. According to Jimenez, he was never called up to the big leagues because he was too inconsistent at the plate. His best season was last year when he hit .292 with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs for Triple-A Pawtucket (Red Sox) and Double-A Bowie (Orioles). "It's one of my problems. I need to show consistency, so they can give me a chance," Jimenez said. "I want to prove that I can play [in the big leagues]. I don't care for how long. If they give me one month only to play in the big leagues, I will try to show them that I could do the job." Coming up: Washington travels to Jupiter, Fla., to play the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon. Game time is at 1:05 p.m. ET. The last time these two teams met was on Monday with the Nationals winning the game, 3-2, in Viera, Fla.
On Wednesday, Washington left-hander John Lannan will face St. Louis right-hander Mike Parisi.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.