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Bombs away: Maxwell, Belliard

Bonderman hit the showers with two outs in the fifth, and it hasn't gone well for Tim Byrdak, the lefty reliever. The first batter he faced, Nick Johnson, drilled a double to left-center that scored a run. (One of Johnson's best swings of the spring, by the way.)

In the sixth, he allowed singles to Kearns and Lopez, and then Justin Maxwell -- called over from minor league camp because of the injuries to WMP and Dukes -- drilled a pitch to left on a line, a three-run homer. Nice shot for J-Max.

After an out, Byrdak walked Willie Harris (who has a single and two walks today), and that brought up Ronnie Belliard as a pinch hitter for Cristian Guzman. I said out loud, "Single to left," because Belliard has been smoking the ball all spring. I was wrong. He drilled a homer to left, a two-run shot that made it 6-0.

It's now gone out of control for the Tigers. Nick Johnson singled (3 for 3 with a walk and a double), was replaced by pinch runner Matt Whitney. Dmitri Young then shot a double to right (opposite field, as he was hitting right-handed). Austin Kearns followed with a single, adn Lopez is now the Nationals' 10th hitter of the inning.

Current score: National 8, Tigers 0.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 18, 2008; 2:55 PM ET
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Next: Felipe Lopez: "Bench? No. ... Hell no."


This Rapada guy is not having a good day.

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | March 18, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

... and Rapada (the replacement pitcher for Byrdak, came in after Nick's single) proceeds to give J-Max another RBI by walking him with the bases loaded, getting there by walking Felipe before him.

Posted by: faNATic | March 18, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I know it is only Spring Training...but man! There is no way our team could do any of this last year, even against AAA teams.

Posted by: NattyDelite! | March 18, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Starting to come together, Pepper. Starting to come together!

Posted by: Lou Brown | March 18, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

hanrahan with another 1,2,3 inning. that means he has gone just about 9 innings this spring, only giving up what 2 hits and 0 runs i think.

Someone correct me if i'm wrong...

Posted by: natsinthevalley | March 18, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Solid day on ESPN - hopefully the next time we're on ESPN we can put up similar numbers. Great pub'.

Posted by: Corey | March 18, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

That wouldn't happen to be Clay Rapada would it? Tall, skinny left-hander?

Posted by: Steve | March 18, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The future of our outfield looks great with Milledge, WMP, Dukes and Maxwell.

If Kearns doesn't put up big numbers this year....I can see a trade happening down the road.

Posted by: Wily Mo Pablo | March 18, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

You know how we are not supposed to make too much of a spring performance?

I agree. But lets bring up Maxwell anyway.

Posted by: NatsTerp | March 18, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Great day for Jmax! and of course Hanrahan with another 2 innings of shutdown ball.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | March 18, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I think it is Clay Rapada, Steve. Or was; new pitcher now.

Also, for anyone who wasn't watching, check out SportsCenter tonight for this gorgeous diving catch by J-Max.

Posted by: i should be working... | March 18, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I've been able to catch the last two innings on TV. Nieves is as advertised. I really like the way he bounces around behind the plate. He blocks the ball very well.

Hanrahan's slider made the Tiger hitters very uncomfortable.

Posted by: #4 | March 18, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Its good to see Kearns getting in on the action as well. 3-5 today i think.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | March 18, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Yes, that would be Clay Rapada, he of the 27.00 ERA.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 18, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"Yeah I think it is Clay Rapada, Steve. Or was; new pitcher now."

HA ... I played against that guy in high school.

Posted by: Steve | March 18, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

much as we might be interested to see it, can't see jmax up on the roster here unless he's getting at least semi-regular ABs. he'd be better off hitting every day in the minors to start the season than being the 5th OF up here.

now come june/july... all bets are off if he hits like this in the minors.

Posted by: 231 | March 18, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

colome just gakked up the shutout.

Posted by: natsscribe | March 18, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

D'oh! Jesus loses the shutout. Colome gives up a 2-out, bottom of the 9th, HR to Marcus Thames.

Posted by: faNATic | March 18, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm just happy that a Terp had some success today.

I'm going to the Maryland/Minnesota NIT game today, and I just know the Terps are going to cough it up in front of a bunch of lousy Gopher fans.

But when the final horn blows and I have to look into the crestfallen eyes of Bambale Osby, I'll simply repeat the mantra, "Maxwell goes yard. Maxwell goes yard."

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 18, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Who the heck is Willie Harris??

Posted by: Juan-John | March 18, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

First there's ganking and now there's gakking? What's next?

Posted by: NatsNut | March 18, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 18, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

laughing here....

Posted by: NatsNut | March 18, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Colome's still getting used to the fact that he's got his entire left buttock back...

Posted by: Juan-John | March 18, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"If Kearns doesn't put up big numbers this year....I can see a trade happening down the road.

Posted by: Wily Mo Pablo | March 18, 2008 03:25 PM "

Better alternative is for him to put up big numbers and get dealt because WMP and Dukes (& JMax?) can't be kept out of the line-up.

I'll rephrase something I asked on Barry's projected roster post: Why are we going to keep Aaron Boone and release Willie Harris when Harris can play more positions, run, and get on base occasionally on his own? And, what do we do with Mackowiak when WMP comes off the DL?

Posted by: PTBNL | March 18, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Psst, don't look now... this team's strength is its outfield.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 18, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse


"Gakking" is a favorite word of mine because I used to have pet cats that would gak hairballs all over my living room carpet.

Posted by: natsscribe | March 18, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

PTBNL, I completely agree that Willie Harris would serve a more useful utility role than A. Boone. His flexibility in the field is far more appealing to me defensively, and he seems to get on base at an appreciable clip.

This spring, however, his biggest fault that I've noticed is he often gets caught napping on the basepaths. Today, he got picked off first and caught stealing second, meaning that 2 out of his 3 baserunning opportunities were wasted. This seemingly lackadaisical approach has also happened in several other games that I've listened to/watched vicariously through box scores updating every 30 seconds.

That being said, if he cleaned up his baserunning chops, I'd still take Willie Harris any day over A. Boone.

Posted by: faNATic | March 18, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Just checking out the MLB scoreboard page on and the top three performers listed at the top of the page are all Nationals: Maxwell, Johnson and Milledge! How sweet is that?

Posted by: BSG | March 18, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Also, for what it's worth, I'm not sure that I'd trade a young pitcher (or anything more than a bag of balls) to get Whitney back after we undoubtedly won't be able to keep him on the major league roster.

I think we're putting ourselves in good stead (or at least remarkably improved stead) with the pitching depth we're developing, so I'm not sure that it'd be worth trading a part of that purported depth to get back a player that's logjammed at his position anyway. We've already got NJ, DY, A. Boone, Mackowiak that can play first, and we barely (or probably don't) have room for those players as it is.

Posted by: faNATic | March 18, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

FYI - If you check out the ClarkHuntSmoot construction camera, they're testing out a lot of the graphics for the scoreboard. Looks GREAT

Posted by: Jimmy106 | March 18, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

faNATic - Maybe trying to hold onto Whitney via a trade of anything on the major league roster is a waste, given the number of players who can fill in at 1st (I also thought he played 3d?). Marrero in Potomac or Harrisburg should be major league ready when contracts run out for NJ (the player not the planet) and DY after '09. I like finding a way to keep GGuzman better, but I don't see the Twins as needing relief help.

I would prefer seeing Colome traded than see Schroder sent down (as Barry speculated). I hope he could get a middle infield or catching prospect back who could play at AA/AAA. Don't know which team's system that needs middle relief has blocked depth at this point.

Posted by: PTBNL | March 18, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

i'm guessing wee willie harris isn't being considered over aaron fn boone because he's the anti-corner infielder. few teams want a slap-hitting singles guy with speed manning a power corner infield spot. they want a guy with at least the possibility of hitting a HR.

as far as harris' flexibility, can anyone guess the last time he played 1B or 3B? i'll give you a hint: 2 games at 3B. ever. and never at 1B. he played 5 games at SS in 2005. that's it. he came up as a 2B/CF with balmer and has 175 games at 2B (but only 1 since 2005) and 240 in the OF.

so let's not get carried away with willie harris' "flexibility." he can essentially play all 3 OF spots and 2B. anything else is "emergency duty" at best.

Posted by: 231 | March 18, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Barry, I like you use of unconventional nicknames for players. Be vigilant and don't fall prey to convention(e.g. J-Max). Hopefully Justin Maxwell is still wearing number 00, last season my friends and I started calling him "double-Oh-Maxwell" a pun on double oh seven as well as Maxwell Smart. Just thought I'd throw it out there.

Posted by: Dave-O | March 18, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

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