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Didn't Make the Paper, Vol. II

So last night's mess is behind us, and for whatever reason I decided to build my whole game story around Kory Casto's first major league hit, which came in the midst of a 9-3 debacle. As Stan Kasten knows, I'm always ferreting around for the positive needle in a negative haystack, and Casto's big league debut was a nice avenue for that.

However, that leaves plenty to digest for this edition of DMTP. Let's start with the new center fielder, Ryan Church.

First, Manny Acta: "It's obvious that Nook Logan is a better center fielder than a lot of guys who are playing center field in the big leagues." That includes Church, who is a corner outfielder by trade and is being forced into playing center because of Logan's injury.

Last night, Church allowed one ball to fall in front of him that Logan certainly would have caught. Then, in the ninth, he froze on a rocket Josh Willingham hit off Chad Cordero, and the ball sailed over his head.

Again, Acta: "Let's get something clear. I don't think Nook Logan would've caught that ball yesterday, the ball that was hit off Cordero. He did break in a little bit on the ball, but it was a missile and the ball was elevating when it went over his head. And the ball didn't land right behind him, it landed out by the wall. Yes, he's not Nook Logan, but a lot of guys in the big leagues aren't Nook Logan. That's what we have. He's decent there, and we're going to go with him."

I talked to Church last night after the game. He said: "I'm comfortable out there. But I just keep moving back and moving back [to try to make sure things don't get over his head], and after a while, it's like, 'Uncle.'"

Whatever you think of the injuries suffered by Cristian Guzman and Logan on Opening Day, the Nationals are a worse defensive team because of them. Acta admits it. Church admits it. But like Acta said, this is what they have.

What they don't have today is Josh Wilson at shortstop. Wilson was hit by a pitch late in last night's game, and afterward was undergoing treatment. As deadline approached, I couldn't wait for him, so I went upstairs to write. Our good friend Bill Ladson at doesn't have those crazy deadline constraints, so he waited for him.

To review, Wilson was charged with one error and might have been charged with two others, though they were 50-50 calls. Clearly, an excellent major league shortstop could have changed the entire game. Acta said, when Wilson started the spring in a shaky manner, that he appeared to be pressing. The manager wouldn't quite go there last night, but Ladson was able to ask Wilson about it when he finally appeared at his locker after getting treatment.

"There were no nerves," he told Bill. "I've been doing this, not as much as some guys, but it's baseball. I don't get nervous out there. Sometimes things don't go the way you want them. If I go back in there tomorrow, I'm going to play hard again."

Well, unfortunately for him, he won't be out there today. (I'll get to the lineups after we're done with DMTP).

Last item: You might have seen, if you read the $.35-edition of the paper carefully, a small item on John Patterson thinking his struggles from Monday's Opening Day were mechanical. That's true, said pitching coach Randy St. Claire. But there might be more. He and pitching coach Randy St. Claire watched video of Patterson from 2005, when he was pitching well, and compared it to his start Monday.

"I told him, to me, he was very unaggressive," St. Claire said just a few minutes ago in the dugout. "He wasn't his same, usual attaching guy. He was really deliberate out there."

Translation: If he gets his mind right -- attacking mode, allowing his arm to whip through -- the mechanics will follow.

Today: Matt Chico's first big league start. I would guess a sparse crowd here at RFK because of the afternoon start and the pretty miserable weather (though it's not currently raining, so I think we'll be fine getting the game in).

More online: Another podcast is up. I'll get better at these things as we go along. I hope they add some value to the coverage.


Ramirez -- 6
Uggla -- 4
Cabrera -- 5 (hitting .714 w/ 5 RBI)
Willingham -- 7
Jacobs -- 3
Ross -- 9
Olivo -- 2
De Aza -- 8
Sanchez -- 1 (he of the no-hitter last year)

Lopez -- 6
Casto -- 7
Zimmerman -- 5
Kearns -- 9
Young -- 3
Schneider -- 2
Church -- 8
Belliard -- 4
Chico -- 1

Enjoy the game if you can get it on TV or the radio. I'll chime in once or twice, I suppose.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 4, 2007; 11:01 AM ET
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Next: An accomplishment


A bit off topic, but did anyone else notice the dismal state of the scoreboard operations last night. Batter information was often a half-inning late (i.e., Felipe Lopez shown as the batter with the Marlins batting) and the data was very often and very obviously wrong (i.e., someone had a batting average of 2.25). Pitch count data and other stuff came and went. I don't know if the problem is with the scoreboard software or with the scoreboard operators, but it was beyond minor league in execution.

Posted by: Martin V. | April 4, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Hi Barry - back on the Podcast thing again. Can you ask your technical gurus back in your office to make sure that it's set up to allow streaming - at the moment you have to individually download each one once it's made. It's possible to produce a link that, when inputted into Itunes (or similar) will automatically download each episode when it's released.

Thanks for all the human interest and player point of views - makes the team that much more real to all of us!

Column idea - how about a weekly briefing with the Farm director or one of the minor league managers? A lot of us need hope for the future, given the state of the present.....

Posted by: Kirkie | April 4, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Was literally laughing at the ineptness of the scoreboard operation the past two nights. Strictly bush league.

Still, a good night of watching baseball in old RFK, even if the Nats look like a circus, is better than not watching baseball at all.

Also on a more positive note, did anyone else enjoy the "Go Nats" spelled out in the upper deck seats? I enjoyed it clear across the stadium in M48 - nice to see a little fan ingenuity.

Posted by: HJMcK | April 4, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Don't know why, but I have a good feeling about today's game. Go Nats!

Posted by: JennX | April 4, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the scoreboard was "bush league" as someone else pointed out. Seems like a rather important facet of the "fan experience," eh Stan?

I, too, enjoyed the "Go Nats" display in the upper deck, as well as the temporary edit--"Go Nuts"--which appeared for a few minutes in the middle innings. Unfortunately there wasn't much for us Nats fans to "Go Nuts" about in last night's game.

Here's hoping the summer is better than the first two games have been.

Posted by: MJ | April 4, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

End of the first inning, and we're still in the game ! Getting better every day ....

Posted by: rosyglasses | April 4, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

..uh, nevermind. I shoulda waited until the top of the second. Sigh.

Posted by: rosyglasses | April 4, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Hm. Maybe my good feeling was due to post-lunch food coma.

Posted by: JennX | April 4, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse


It's nice to be nice but why are you "always ferreting around for the positive needle in a negative haystack?" This isn't St. Louis where they expect the media to be nothing but positive--and this isn't the Redskins where the media is intimiated by Snyder--you should be honest and convey exactly how the game went, whether good or bad. If you are only positive amidst the gloom, then it will be impossible to believe you when things actually turn for the better.

Posted by: Jeff | April 4, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

He was being sarcastic.

Posted by: Not Barry | April 4, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Barry The Ferret. I like it.

Posted by: Willie Gandebol | April 4, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Never thought I'd say this -- but I'm seriously starting to miss Tony Armas!

Posted by: bdrube | April 4, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Is it a bad thing if you go down 5-0 in each of your first three games?

Hey hey - just got a 1-2-3 inning in the 4th though!!

Posted by: DE | April 4, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm an idiot, but I can't find the link to podcast. Can someone provide it?

Posted by: phillip | April 4, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse


If you're looking for an optimistic story, write about Dimitri "Big D" Young's fielding, and about his propensity for hitting doubles. Carrying enough momentum that no 2B or SS in their right mind would stand in between him and the bag probably helps, but when he hits the ball he hits it far enough to get going and once he gets going, well ... look out.

And that errant throw that Wilson made yesterday? Young caught that and rolled through a little somersault that was actually kind of cool. Maybe Young doesn't have the same range as a healthy Johnson, but he definitely puts in an equal amount of effort.

There's an optimist story for ya.

Posted by: i hate walks | April 4, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Jeff: That was sarcasm. Tough to come decipher sometimes in print, but that was it.

I'll give you the straight shooting stuff -- always.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | April 4, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse


Great quotes from Manny, Church and St. Claire. That's why we love the Journal.

Posted by: Nats_DC | April 4, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

OH MY GOD !!!! 7-6 on a heckuva bottom ninth !

When did pigs get wings? I must have missed the news story.....

Posted by: rosyglasses | April 4, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

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