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Cordero to DL; Dukes will return to court

Plenty of news on Friday -- and a second straight winnable game that the Nationals couldn't quite swipe.

After the 5-4 loss to the Cardinals (a game in which they left 13 men on base), the Nationals placed closer Chad Cordero on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 27. Cordero last pitched in a major league game March 24, but they have to make it retroactive to the 27th because of a confusing rule that involves when his replacement on the major league roster -- lefty John Lannan -- was optioned to Class AAA Columbus.

What does all this mean? Basically, that Lannan will start Sunday's game in St. Louis, and that Cordero will build arm strength and likely come off the DL when he's eligible, which is next Friday at home against Atlanta. "My arm feels fine," Cordero said late Friday night, and he'll throw his side session Saturday.

The decision will come next week, when Cordero is able to pitch again. That will be just two days before Shawn Hill's target date to return, Sunday April 13th. Lots of moving parts.

The Cordero news is folded into the gamer here, and if you want to re-live Felipe Lopez's look at a called strike three with the tying run on second base in the top of the ninth, please read away.

We already covered Dmitri Young's return to Washington for a visit with Ben Shaffer, the team orthopedist, and a check on his back. If Young goes on the DL -- and it seems that could be probable -- you have to think Justin Maxwell would be a candidate to be recalled, given that the Nationals are down an outfielder. Though with Lopez now out there in left (and I have to say, he's looked good out there thus far), perhaps that's not the case.

But the other bit of news from Friday is that Elijah Dukes is due back in court on April 24. This is a confusing matter in which the court originally thought he had violated his probation, but sources close to the case have told me he has met all the conditions. In fact, Dukes's side wants to argue that his probation -- stemming from a January 2007 marijuana case -- should be shortened. (In September, he was given 12 months' probation on the charge.)

Best case scenario: This is a procedrual matter on an old case, and Dukes will get the date moved to a date when the Nationals are off. It's also possible Dukes will still be on the DL on April 24 -- actually, it's probable -- so if he has to show up then, he will.

One note from the minors. Guess who started against the Columbus Clippers tonight. Guess. I dare you. That would be one Tomo Ohka, who gave up three runs in his four innings while pitching for Charlotte, the White Sox's Class AAA team. Charlotte beats Columbus, 8-3, in Garrett Mock's first start of the season.

Other minors stuff: Class A Potomac opened its season with a 4-3 loss to Salem. Chris Marrero had a double in four at-bats, and Zech Zinicola -- in need of a bounce-back season -- struck out three in a scoreless 1-2/3-inning stint.

Low-Class A Hagerstown, in the first of what is likely to be 38 games against the Delmarva Shorebirds, came back with three runs in the last to frames to post an 8-6 victory. Michael Burgess homers for the Suns, as do Stephen King and and Jake Smolinski. Colton Willems, a first-round pick from 2006, allowed four earned runs in five innings, but Clint Everts -- a former top prospect as a starter -- closed it out in the ninth.

Saturday's game: Matt Chico makes his second start of the year against the Cardinals, and remember that it's an afternoon tilt -- just after 1 p.m. eastern time. Enjoy.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 5, 2008; 1:51 AM ET
 
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Comments

The Nats are 3-2, with 40f the 5 being one run games, which tend to even out to 50/50 by season's end. Remember that 1st place at the all-star break in 2005 - 50-31, mostly one run wins. Then remember July? Just give me a win on the open-house jumbo-tron today. One win make the whole day like Christmas. And if we had a predictable 100 win juggernaut, I don't think wins would be as joyous.

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 4:15 AM | Report abuse

The Nats are 3-4, with 4 of the 5 being one run games. That's what previous post should read. And here's hoping that Chad's arm is being babied by a Red-Sox like program of arm preservation. (They have a top-secret statistically-based program to preserve pitching arms to which they rigidly adhere.) John Smoltz would rather start than close, becasue closing is harder on the arm. But think of Trevor Hoffman, who has been closing forever, and have hope. Chad, we didn't know what we'd miss til it's gone!

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 4:47 AM | Report abuse

I thought the Tomo Okha trade would come back to bite us, which it did several times in Milwaukee. But, ultimately, I was wrong. And the Lopez/Kearns trade for Billy Bray and Tex Majewski? I thought that it was terrible, taking two so-so hitters out of the Great American Smallpark and putting them into RFK would do neither any good, and it didn't. Tex was Chad's best friend, and I thought that it would hurt Chad, and it has. But when you look at it now. Mr. Bowden picked his old team's pocket. Barry thought that we would live to regret losing Bray, but, on March 28, "The Reds optioned pitcher Bill Bray to Triple-A Louisville.

"These are real tough," Baker said of the final decisions. "This is when you wish you had a 28-man roster."

Bray was a particularly tough decision for the Reds. The lefty missed the first half of camp with shoulder soreness, and, despite a strong showing, the Reds felt he needed to gain more experience.

The 24-year old has only thrown 65 innings in the past three seasons."

And Gary "Tex" Majewski? "The trade caused some controversy, as the Reds front office was apparently unaware of cortisone shots that had been given to Majewski because of arm pain before the trade. In spring training didn't pitch until 3/28 while strengthening his right shoulder...after that exhibition appearance was optioned to Louisville. Current status: minor leagues." Kearns plays all-out, and Felipe has had his moments, but has suffered from a slow spring after his autumn scapegoating, continued in today's gamer. Both are pressing right now, which doesn't help. And Felipe was not a fielding all-star when he got here.

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 5:29 AM | Report abuse

And, dammit, the Nats are 3-2 with 4 of the games being one run games. Jabu, forgive me. No more pre-coffee posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2008 5:31 AM | Report abuse

In Japanese -- I am told -- "Okha" means: "Cherry Blossom."

Not: "I'm not giving up the ball, you scum-bag manager."

Posted by: DC Diehard | April 5, 2008 5:47 AM | Report abuse

Before the game I said Maxwell. After the game I said Maxwell. But does it matter what I say, or anybody else, for that matter.
And the Nats bullpen is always excellent when the team is already behind. Don't get me wrong, they're pretty good most of the time but when they aren't, it always seems the team is clinging to a lead.
Injuries-year after year after year after year.

Posted by: Jeeves | April 5, 2008 6:27 AM | Report abuse

And I've also been a fan of having Flores start. It's a tad early but in one game his offensive stats are a way better than LoDuca's four games together.

Posted by: Jeeves | April 5, 2008 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Post game thoughts...

Manny should have pinch hit for Odalis Perez in the 4th. He had already thrown a bunch of pitches (high 80's?) and never looked like he had command the whole night. It was torturous watching him from the first inning on.

All of the Flop haters have to realize the only reason that he is in the lineup is because he is considered to be a better hitter than Harris, which I agree after watching 11 at bats from Harris. Not having Dukes or Pena is just killing us offensively.

Kearns went 2 for 4 but he can't seem to hit past the pitching mound with the bases loaded. Lo Duca's at bats are not looking that good either. When he swung at the high ball 4 that must have been 6 inches above the strike zone during his bases loaded at bat I jumped out of my chair. The baseball gods must love him because he got the next pitch out of strike zone and mercifully took it.

Speaking of the baseball gods-- I think we paid for blowing the five run lead in Philadelphia yesterday. The baseball gods really don't like it when you give away games and they figured we still owed them a debt. Manny leaving Perez in for 5 horrid innings was the penitance we had to pay for the Philly game. Hopefully, our baseball karma is back to even now and we will win the next game. I have visions of Zim and Kearns actually getting hits with men on base.

Posted by: Dale | April 5, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Yeah! That bum Ryan Zimmerman is only batting .217 after 5 games! Let's bench him for a good hitter like Matt Chico. He's hitting .333!

Posted by: Chris | April 5, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

tMorning, Jeeves. Last two nights at he Drones have left me feeling rough. How 'bout a spot of coffee and alka seltzer?

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Nice call on the trade, flynnie. I can't get in Lopez's head, so I don't buy the argument that he doesn't come through because of his "attitude." Well, he's playing LF at risk of becoming labeled a utility guy so he can get some ABs - I know, that's a ballplayer's job, to play ball when the manager tells you to, but still, he's said all the right things.

The problem is that he's just not that good a player. He had some inflated stats for a short time in GABP, but otherwise, he's been and continues to be mediocre. It's too bad for him that Belliard beat him out at 2b, his defensive shortcomings are minimized there. But I would still rather have him at the plate than Harris when you need an RBI.

Boy, our improved depth sure vanished in a hurry didn't it? Losing 5 of 25 guys counting Hill in ST or the first week. Outfielders, closer, starting pitcher, best pinch hitter. Come back soon guys. We're not an 80 win team with those guys gone.

Posted by: Geezer | April 5, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Nick's looking sparkly, though, isn't he?

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Hey Barry,

We need some kind of story looking into the Nats injury issues. Some hard analysis is needed. Arm issues under Randy, Day to Day injuries turning into DL trips, Chad playing catch on opening day turns into DL?

The Nats Training Staff and/or Roster Management Strategies are at work here and things are not just "happening" and "part of the Game", this has been a 13 month story waiting to be covered it seems to me.

I am happy to hear Lopez has finally learned how to react to his poor play in print at least. Now let us see if he can learn now to respond with some hits.

Note to Jimbo, sometimes you have to admit your mistakes and move on..... Young and Lopez cost $10 Million this season and are on track for playing and eating their way out of the league.....that could have been put towards pitching (Lohse and Livo were my choices for the record).

Posted by: JayB | April 5, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm with you on that, flynnie. I hope to be at the park when the gates open at 12.

---

Just give me a win on the open-house jumbo-tron today.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 5, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

1A, how are you getting there? I think I'm going to try the driving and parking now just made available us littles yesterday.

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I'll be taking Metro from Virginia - my first test run of the new (for me) route.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 5, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

One thing, though - will the parking be available for today's event? The first email said that it wouldn't, but I can't remember what it said in the subsequent email.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 5, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it something how all teams never speak the truth when it comes to injuries. Cordero being the latest example. He was supposed to possibly be available to pitch sunday, then bang-zoom, on to the 15 day dl. I fear this is more serious than we're being told. Perhaps there is more to this grievance by the Reds on the Majewski trade than we also had thought, since MLB still hasn't ruled on that antique situation. Help...is the sky falling?

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | April 5, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

More wine I know and can not even provide the cheese but Barry and Acta always minimize the value of Radar Gun Readings but I think I am seeing a trend here......Chad is feeling fine but not able to hit 88 MPH and then goes no DL. Patterson feels great but not able to hit 87 MPH and is cut loose. The top numbers on the Radar gun allow for 8-10 MPH differences on your other pitches. If Nats say they are not tracking and valuing these numbers then they being dishonest with Barry. Looking backwards the issue with Chad was there in Spring Training it appears now and not reported

Posted by: JayB | April 5, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

1A, bon voyage on the Metro! My 3 daughters have collected enough parking and camera infractions driving my car in D.C. (unenforceable in Virginia and Maryland) that I believe there are shoot to kill orders out on me, but I'll chance it in the family sedan.

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, flynnie. I wish the same to you!

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 5, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Checking out the CF stadium cam, looks like there are a few early birds there already. Hey, you, get your feet off that seat!! ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 5, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

JayB, why can't they learn to be great oft throwers like Jamie Moyer or Tim Wakefield, or, my favorite, Phil Neikro? (Saw him hit a grand slam against the Astros) 75 mph is fast for them. Must be easy on the arm, but tough to do, becasue there are so few who do it.

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' flynnie-Maybe a slug of the hair of the dog that bit me.

Posted by: Jeeves | April 5, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

They can learn and my point was that is all about changing speeds. The point is you do not learn that overnight.....Chad can not be effective with an 87MPH fastball and a 84 MPH slider. Too close in speeds. Real issue is that his 87 MPH fastball was not reported in Spring Training......Now he is like so many other Nats pitchers over the past 13 months....sore arm on the DL and no use to the team.

On a related note on the theme of Nats being unrealistic about injuries and talent level of pitchers....we sure could benefit from some of those "overpriced, washed up pitchers" that are eating innings and winning games for other teams right now. Team needs to be realistic and honest about that talent at AAA......True is it is going to be several years before true prospects are ready to pitch (except for Ross D who really should be pitching in the MLB by June on this staff or that was a wasted pick).....Mock, O'Conner, etc....nobody but the Nats would rely on them in as their plan for 2008-2010 rotation plan.

Posted by: JayB | April 5, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Posted i hate walks a few days ago: "So we might as well stick to discussing women. That's at least something we know as well as baseball, and have more in-house expertise (right, Jason Bergmann? right, catcher50? right, Hendo?) ;)"

In the aggregate, perhaps so. And no, IHW, I didn't think you were calling us girls, as you lamented in your very next post.

Far from it. In fact, to merit comparison with Bergmann -- than whom I have one wife, one daughter, and one fastball fewer -- and C50 seems to me to be pretty high praise.

Posted by: Hendo | April 5, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Super--the "Today's Game To Watch" feature is back in the print edition of the paper, and the Post says that the "game to watch" is the Mets-Braves game, and not the Nats-Cards game. Barry, didn't we cover this last year? There's no way this should still be happening in the Post--if your editors want to give stat breakdowns for a particular game, then the paper *has* to give those breakdowns for the Nats game. If I want to know how Luis Castillo hits against the Braves over his career (your editors also screwed this up in the paper by flipping the teams), then I'll go to espn.com.

As long as the Nats are playing, as far as the Post is concerned the "game to watch" should always be the Nats game. To suggest otherwise is an insult.

Posted by: Coverage is Lacking | April 5, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

JayB, I agree with a lot of what you say. The AAA guys have talent, but it's too soon to say which ones will actually be MLB regulars. They are so young. Balester is very impressive, but he's a kid who sometimes forgets to pitch from the stretch when runners are on. For now, we have to wait and suffer through veteran pitchers nobody else wants

Posted by: SwiftIt | April 5, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Flores is not ready to catch in the majors everyday. I know he hits, but he needed to stop those wild pitches/passed balls v. the Phils and he is the one who blew the bunt coverage NOT Colome. In the spring, I saw a runner score from 2nd on a passed ball. He needs another year in AA. LoDuca hasn't hit yet, but he is already better than I thought on defense (of course, he is never going to throw anyone out)

Posted by: SwiftIt | April 5, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"Super--the "Today's Game To Watch" feature is back in the print edition of the paper, and the Post says that the "game to watch" is the Mets-Braves game, and not the Nats-Cards game."

Well, Mets-Braves IS the Fox Game of the Week here. Could it be that Fox Sports is now editing the WaPo Sports section? (Or are they just giving Fox equal time to make up for all the previous ESPN bias?) What's next, Fox News calling the shots on the Post editorial pages?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | April 5, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Under the head line "Same Story, Different Day":

1. Austin Kearns cannot consistently stay committed to hitting the ball the other way in clutch situations. More galling than taking a cement mixer slider down the middle for strike three in the 7th inning was the first swing in that at bat. He got a hittable fast ball on the outer half and over swung, hitting a foul ball dribbler.

2. More muscle and tendon injuries. Please make it stop. JimBo is forcing Manny to manage with one arm tied behind his back. A 23 player roster doesn't cut it. Imagine the Hook hitting with the bases rather than Willie Harris. Either the trainers have bad strength and conditioning programs or JimBo and Manny have not made it a priority to force players to comply. Next time you go to a Nats game, watch how intensely the players go through their stretching and warm up routines.

Posted by: #4 | April 5, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Jeeves, are the brains in working order today? Have you virtually lived on fish? Because we need a win to brighten the mood around here. #4, Chief has been closing since college, throwing a fastball in the low 90's with late movement and mechanics that, let's just say, do not bring Nolan Ryan to mind. I don't think we can blame the Trader Jim St. Randy or the training staff for the injuries or Dmitry's trouble with diabetes. But would you mind following me around and applying the Louisville Slugger to me every time I eat inappropriately or don't exercise? You are just what I need!

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Jeeves, are the brains in working order today? Have you virtually lived on fish? Because we need a win to brighten the mood around here. #4, Chief has been closing since college, throwing a fastball in the low 90's with late movement and mechanics that, let's just say, do not bring Nolan Ryan to mind. I don't think we can blame the Trader Jim St. Randy or the training staff for the injuries or Dmitry's trouble with diabetes. But would you mind following me around and applying the Louisville Slugger to me every time I eat inappropriately or don't exercise? You are just what I need!

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Jeeves, are the brains in working order today? Have you virtually lived on fish? Because we need a win to brighten the mood around here. #4, Chief has been closing since college, throwing a fastball in the low 90's with late movement and mechanics that, let's just say, do not bring Nolan Ryan to mind. I don't think we can blame the Trader Jim St. Randy or the training staff for the injuries or Dmitry's trouble with diabetes. But would you mind following me around and applying the Louisville Slugger to me every time I eat inappropriately or don't exercise? You are just what I need!

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post. I have no idea how that happened, and, with Elijah Dukes, plead not guilty. I'm ready for 11 Nats runs and any number less than that for the Cardinals.

Posted by: flynnie | April 5, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

If you all are freaking out now I can't wait to see how you all are reacting when the Nats are in dead last and have a record of like 20-50.


HHAHHAHAHHHHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAAHAHHAAHAHAHA

Posted by: O's Exec | April 5, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I was under the impression that cherry blossom translates to "sakura," and "oka" (okha doesn't transliterate) means "hill."
And I was glad they traded him. Don't dis the manager.

***********
In Japanese -- I am told -- "Okha" means: "Cherry Blossom."

Not: "I'm not giving up the ball, you scum-bag manager."

Posted by: DC Diehard | April 5, 2008 05:47 AM

Posted by: MIB languages | April 5, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh, it's root root root for the Nationals,
If they don't win, we complaiiiiiiin ...

Posted by: Where did you think you were, Philly? | April 5, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

That should read "are dead last" or "are dead in last place," but not "are in dead last."

Posted by: You're welcome | April 5, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Nothing to add here but a hearty good morning to you all. It's gorgeous up in Minnesota today, and we get a chance to even up the series against the Cardinals. Nothing to complain about today.

Yet.

Enjoy your day at the park, everyone!

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 5, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes I think Zimmerman is the only guy worth a darn in the lineup...

Posted by: Jason | April 5, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes, this team needs some pitchers. Thesee guys are just not getting it done.

Posted by: Ed | April 5, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Once again, Kearns doesn't get it done.

Posted by: Ed | April 5, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Cordero on the DL may be a blessing in disguise: I think Ayala in the setup role and Rauch closing makes us stronger. I recall reading a note here or there last year that said teams hated hitting against Rauch and looked forward to Cordero and his patented "100% first pitch fastball down the gut" opening to each inning.

Downside of course is a weakened trade value for whenever we eventually dump him. Because we need to dump him, honestly. As soon as Bowden realizes he's an 8th inning pitcher and accepts an 8th inning pitcher trade offer, the sooner we can go to the right combo out of the pen.

Posted by: Sec131 | April 5, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

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