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Didn't Make the Paper, Vol. III

(I'm going to really have to study my Roman numerals as the season goes on.)

So apparently, pigs can fly and all that stuff. Nats win! Nats win! Thuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhh Nationals win!

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE, 12:33 P.M. (Didn't want to make this an entirely new post for those who haven't read below.) Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young has agreed to wear No. 42 on April 15, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robsinson's breaking of baseball's color barrier. We had an item in the $.35-edition of the paper this morning about Ken Griffey Jr. doing this for the Reds, getting permission from MLB to honor Robinson by wearing his number -- which has been retired by all 30 major league clubs. I planned to ask Young if he wanted to do this (he, Nook Logan, Ray King and Jerome Williams are the team's only African Americans) this afternoon, but the announcement pre-empted my question.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled post.

Yeah, yeah, it was only two games and all, but man, they were horrid. Not so tremendous for the first half of yesterday, either. Of course it wasn't a "must" win in the truest sense, but there was a palpable sense of relief/satisfaction/joy/relief/thankfulness in the clubhouse yesterday. Manny Acta appeared misty-eyed to me in the postgame.

OK, DMTP: Well, not much. How about Acta's double switch there in the ninth, when he brought in Ray King to pitch and hit seventh, benching Church and putting Austin Kearns in center, where he hadn't played so much as an inning all spring, and sticking Robert Fick in right so he could hit in the nine hole? In all the hoopla, didn't get to ask Acta about it last evening. But I wonder: What's the advantage of doing that unless you think King's going to pitch more than an inning (and they were down two runs at the time)? If you keep the defensive alignment the same and stick King in the nine spot in the order, then you could just pinch hit Fick for King/other pitcher in the bottom of the inning.

Of course -- and I think this will be the answer -- the bullpen was getting short, so I think even if Acta had brought in Rauch later in the ninth (which he did, getting two key strikeouts) he didn't want to have to pinch hit for Rauch, have the Nationals tie the game, and then be left with only Chad Cordero to pitch if the game went to extra innings.

Is there going to be a greater challenge for a first-year manager than Acta handling this bullpen this year? I've seen juggling in street corner acts in Manhattan, and that's nothing compared to this.

Cordero: He was the only one left in the bullpen by the end, along with bullpen coach Rick Aponte. "Lonley," he said afterward. "And cold." He thus had the longest to run/jog when he came in for the celebration.

Also: Didn't address a very warm embrace between Dmitri Young and Acta afterward. "That was special," Acta said. There is a lot of sympathy in the clubhouse for Young -- though no one endorses what he did last year, what with the domestic abuse charge, etc. Said Young about Acta, who he has known for perhaps five weeks: "He's our manager. He's our leader, and that win was for him."

In the minors: It's Opening Day for Class AAA Columbus, Class AA Harrisburg, high Class A Potomac and low Class A Hagerstown. RHP Tim Redding (remember him?) gets the assignment for the Clippers at Indianapolis this afternoon.

Some interesting developments on the minor league rosters.

Columbus: It appears that RHP Emiliano Fruto (who player development guru Bob Boone called "a baby with a big arm" this spring, the 22-year-old who came over in the Vidro trade from Seattle with Chris Snelling) will be in the Clippers' rotation. Trying to get that confirmed right now, but the list I have makes it look that way. That would be interesting. People think he has the stuff -- three good pitches -- but his problems in the past have been keeping concentration over six or seven innings. For an organization that needs power arms in the rotation, it would appear to make sense, though. EDIT: Yes, have it confirmed from player development department -- Fruto will join Redding, Joel Hanrahan (easy bet to be first starter called up should he improve his command in the strike zone), LHP Chris Michalak and Felix Diaz in the Columbus rotation.

Looks like starting OF in Colulmbus will be Restovich, Lombard and Darnell McDonald, with Honest Abraham Nunez coming off the bench.

Harrisburg: The guy -- THE GUY -- to watch here is top rotation prospect Collin Balester. Mike Hinckley and Beltran Perez also appear in the rotation for the Senators, and their development is key, too. Big year -- probably make-or-break -- for former top prospect Hinckley. Also: Zech Zinicola becomes the closer at Harrisburg, and some in the organization expect him to be in the majors by the end of the year.

Potomac: Clint Everts in the rotation, Ian Desmond trying to find himself again at shortstop. But if I were choosing between Potomac and Hagerstown to take in a game, I'd take ...

Hagerstown: No Esmailyn Gonzalez at shortstop. They kept him at extended spring training, which makes sense for a 17-year-old who's never played in the States before. Stephen King, from last year's draft, is the SS here. But the outfield contains three of the Nationals' best hitting prospect -- LF Chris Marrero (who put on a show every time I saw him hit in the spring, and who some top executives believe is "absolutely, without question" the top prospect in the organization); CF Justin Maxwell (who one front office guy told me "could be a superstar" because of his bat speed, a potential steal out of the University of Maryland in the fourth round in 2005); and budding hitter Mike Daniel in right. Add that to Jhonny Nunez in the rotation (acquired in the Marlon Anderson trade with the Dodgers last year) and I think Hagerstown might have the most high-ceiling prospects in the organization.

Also: RHP Garrett Mock begins the year on the DL in Potomac because of his bad knee, which Boone said would be the case during spring training.

Our minor league notebook will begin next week, likely on Wednesdays, but I'll try to fill it out in the Journal as well.

Tonight: Jason Bergmann's first start of the season. Diamondbacks coughed up seven runs in the eighth inning yesterday in Denver, so can't be feeling too good about that. I'll talk to you from RFK.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 5, 2007; 10:40 AM ET
 
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Next: Didn't Make the Paper, Vol. IV -- and, finally, a chat

Comments

160-2

Posted by: Paul | April 5, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

As for why the double switch, it could be to keep Fick in the game. With Flores already used as a pinch hitter, if Fick bats for King and then is replaced by Rauch, then we don't have another catcher in the event of extra innings if Schneider goes down. But if Fick is in the field, he could switch to catcher if Schneider goes down. So my guess is that keeping Fick in the game as an insurance catcher could have been the reason to double switch.

It would be interesting to find out though.

Thanks for the minor league info, Barry. Good stuff as always.

Posted by: court | April 5, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

About the double switch: is there any chance that Church was pulled for jawing with the ump? He was seen exchanging what looked like some heated words with the ump after striking out in the 8th. Did Manny sit him to teach him to keep his mouth shut or was this just your standard NL double switch?

Posted by: Sec. 418 Jr. | April 5, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Mock is on the DL in Potomac? Did the Nationals change their plans recently? He's listed on the DL in Harrisburg. Not that it matters much where he's DL'd.

Posted by: Brian | April 5, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

A tad optimistic Paul. 63 games-$50.00 70-75 games--$1000.00, 81-81 PRICELESS!! Somethings you can' buy for all else....

Keep up the Minors' chat Barry, WE NEED HOPE!! Friday Night will be my first game in above seat, a true test weatherwise to my love for the game and the team. I will dress warm, you do the same.

Posted by: Section 417 Row 8 Seat 9 | April 5, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

That minor league stuff is great. I don't know what it is, but I feel like I'm much more interested in the Clippers than I ever was in the Zephyrs. Looking forward to the minor league notebooks.

Go Nats.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Barry, loving the extra DMTP material.

If it's any help, there's a calculator for converting decimal numbers to roman numerals at:

http://www.novaroma.org/via_romana/numbers.html

Will that link help your ability to keep using roman numerals for all CLXII games?

Posted by: Arlington, or Section 502 | April 5, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Barry, are they really moving Emiliano to the rotation? Or, have they put him in the rotation to get him a set number of innings, and to face the top of the order, better batters, etc. - wondering if that is the case here, or if he is really a long-term part of the rotation.

Posted by: Mark W, Alex., VA | April 5, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Barry;

Guess we can say that AA Harrisburg will be the launching point for the real future Nats (ala Zimmerman in 2005). From the read, it appears AAA is really now just a dumping ground for (with the exception of Casto) the career minor league types or better known in todays game as 4A'ers. In other words there is not much there. Whats the deal with Simontacchi, is this going to turn into months vice weeks for his return to the bigs?

Posted by: 41 Games | April 5, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Not to plug another site or anything, but this was pretty funny from SI.com's 10 Spot, Pete McEntegart:
5. Reader submission from Eric of St. Charles, Mo.: "Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory made headlines by throwing out the first pitch 50 feet wide of home plate before the Reds' season opener. Afterwards, Mallory was immediately picked up by the Nationals."

Posted by: NatsNut Sec 447 | April 5, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Love the minor league notebook BTW. Keep it all coming Barry dear.

Posted by: NatsNut Sec 447 | April 5, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the updates on what's happening down on the farm. Terrific stuff!

Posted by: Kevin | April 5, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Note to Arlington, thanx for the URL.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Note to Arlington, thanx for the URL. (forgot my name on the other post.)

Posted by: Dancer | April 5, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all of the great info on the Nats' minor league prospects. Yesterday's game was a reminder why baseball is a such a fantastic game to follow. There's nothing like a walk-off win, especially when it is achieved by a team that has rallied back from a large deficit. Even if it is discounted somewhat because of the Jorge Julio factor, the comeback was awesome.

Posted by: Hondo Lives | April 5, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Love the blog, inside stuff and the minors report -- please keep it up since we'll probably see several of the arms up here.

one note, Ray King is a fourth African American on the squad, no?

Posted by: TexSkin | April 5, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals are turning into the Orioles with all their affiliates so close. Pressured the O's to the point they went to Norfolk. I've already heard rumors that the Braves are looking at relocating another AAA team closer to Atlanta and that will free up Richmond for the Nats. But after going to Richmond, Hagerstown, Potomac and Harrisburg last year, I think I'd rather take the trip up to H-burg. Even though their stadium is hideous like Potomac's with a lot of metal, there's something about the whole park setting that we enjoy.

Posted by: Nats Minors Fan | April 5, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes. Ray King. I will fix that promptly.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | April 5, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

When's the parade, has anyone heard when the parade is supposed to be to celebrate THE win??? Oh wait, it's not rush hour yet, let's wait 'til then and then close down Metro!

Posted by: Parade??? | April 5, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

AAA Columbus: 71-69
AA Harrisburg: 78-62
High-A Potomac: 64-76
A- Hagerstown: 84-56

My Predictions

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | April 5, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

So as long as we're second-guessing, what was Willingham doing, being deep enough to be able to stand and watch Young's fly ball land, with the winning run at third and only one out? Doesn't every team in the world play the outfield in, in that situation?

Posted by: Willie Gandebol | April 5, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Willie G,

The MASN guys did (what I thought) was a good analysis of Willingham's action on that play.

Barry,

After playing little league growing up I've only really learned "how" to play the game since I got reintroduced to baseball in '05 and although I've only seen about ten games he's managed, I'm liking Acta's management style.

Thanks for the farm report. Good to start seeing the names that will make our team famous.

Posted by: i hate walks | April 5, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Great info, really glad the blog is carrying into the regular season!

Posted by: JHM | April 5, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Fantastic minor league update, that's gold. Really hard stuff for us to find anywhere else. Also enjoying the DNMTP. Young is a feel good story so far, hope he can keep it up.

Posted by: mlwagnercpa | April 5, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Good Gawd -- Dice-K had 108 pitches in seven innings. Bergmann's thrown just under HALF that in ONE inning. Yoicks...

Posted by: Juan-John | April 5, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Hello, I wanted to let you know that we'll have those hot dogs you ordered opening day ready for you tomorrow around 11:35 p.m. If you're still waiting for hot dogs from last nights game, keep in mind that we have to warm them up millimeter by millimeter, then let them sit out and dry up before serving them to you. This is to be sure you have the least fresh food possible. We thank you for your continued support of Aramark and we feel the longer the line, the better we're doing. We also would like to remind fans to bring a radio before coming to the concession stand if you would like to follow the game. Aramark's policy is that we believe you are paying your ticket prices for the right to be overcharged by us, and in some cases, two, three and four times as our top-notch cashiers continually run your credit card through our system. There will be a special this week however, during the fifth inning, the price of everything will triple, we hope to see everyone at the concession stands in the fifth inning. If you arrive earlier however, we'll make you wait but we understand you enjoy the wait.

Posted by: Concessions Manager | April 6, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I Hate Walks -- I'm glad the MASN guys are on top of it. Makes me wonder what they said...

Posted by: Willie Gandebol | April 6, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

You'll need to make the indicated corrections, but here is Aramark's comment page, just in case anyone has anything to tell them:
www DOT aramark DOT com/ContactForm.aspx?PostingID=490&ChannelID=262&siform=1&siid=FoodServiceAndRefreshments

Posted by: Justin Case | April 6, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

barry: thanks for giving us updates on the prospects. Since that's what Kasten et al are pedaling this year, it would be valuble to see how things are going down on the farm. BTW, I think it was inexcusable not to spend the oney on guys like Trachsel and Ortiz to give us some semblance of a big league rotation. There still would be plenty of opportunities for the cannon fodder to distinguish themselves.

Posted by: Jeb Brown | April 6, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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