Stammen stamping out his place in Nats rotation

Craig Stammen is one step closer to being named the fifth starter for the Nats rotation to begin the 2010 campaign.

He has held his own in spring training and done a good job getting ready for the season.
Saturday, Stammen pitched 5 innings and allowed only 2 earned runs.

Stammen told me he is learning a lot during his side sessions with Steve McCatty.

"I feel comfortable (on the mound) right now, back to where I was before the surgery. My fastball is good, I am throwing it for strikes, I am locating the changeup and becoming a better pitcher."

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"The difference right now is I am working on things I need to work on. I am actually practicing and getting better rather than worrying if I can recover after each start. That is what was happening to me last year."

Stammen says now he is working on new things every day versus just trying to tread water when his elbow was hurting last season.

The Mets game was a good trial run for Stammen because he could face them again in the second week of the season.

Stammen also has noticed the team is progressing well after a slow start in spring training.

"We are making plays and we are getting timely hits. It is a better brand of baseball. Starters are in for most of the games. The top 35 guys are playing a lot more now than they were at the beginning of camp. Everyone knows their role and where to hit in the lineup. That makes a difference."

Stammen told me it was nice if Manager Jim Riggleman said he is a "good bet" to make the rotation, but he is not guaranteed a spot and he knows it.

"I am focusing on pitching well and not worrying about if I have locked up the fifth slot. I just want to improve each day."

Craig also says his Dayton basketball team is pretty excited about their trip to New York for the NIT Final Four. Stammen says as long as the Flyers concentrate on the basketball side of things and don't try to be more athletic than everyone on the floor, they will do fine. If the Flyers can beat Ole Miss and Rhode Island wins their semifinal, an All Atlantic-10 final could be in the offing.


Update from Las Vegas, Nevada. College of Southern Nevada is now 25-5 after sweeping a doubleheader Friday, and 17-year-old catcher/outfielder phenom Bryce Harper is leading the Coyotes in hitting with a .420 batting average, 8 homers and 27 RBI. Harper has a whopping .864 slugging percentage.

The potential #1 overall selection was a combined 3-for-5 with an RBI and four walks in the doubleheader sweep over Eastern Utah.

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