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Dukes begins rehab tomorrow -- plus lineups

Beautiful night out here at the yard. Many Nationals gathered around Alfonso Soriano during BP, even with Soriano on the DL. Just a magnetic personality, smiling 24 hours a day. Too bad he's not playing.

News: Elijah Dukes will begin a rehab assignment tomorrow for Class A Potomac. They've got an afternoon game, apparently. We'll see how long it takes him to get his hamstring back in shape. He said yesterday he feels ready to go.

Paul Lo Duca probably isn't far behind in going to a rehab assignment.

Lineups:

Chicago:
Johnson -- 8
Theriot -- 6
Lee -- 3
Ramirez -- 5
Fukudome -- 9
DeRosa -- 7
Soto -- 2
Cedeno -- 4
Dempster -- 1

Washington:
Lopez -- 4
Guzman -- 6
Zimmerman -- 5
Johnson -- 3
Milledge -- 8
Estrada -- 2
Pena -- 7
Mackowiak -- 9
Perez -- 1

Manny Acta told Kearns last night that he'd have a day off today, though Acta said he believes Kearns is starting to come around. Numbers don't support that, but he did hit three balls hard last night.

Red Loft bar in center is packed already. I mean, on a summer evening, it appears that it'll be the place to be at the ballpark. Enjoy the weekend of games.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 25, 2008; 6:11 PM ET
 
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Next: Baseball Equipment Drive through the weekend

Comments

First to ask, "Why Peroni?"

Posted by: jwebdc | April 25, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait until the day when we can give Kearns a day off and start Dukes instead of the Mack Attack.

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | April 25, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

"Numbers don't support that, but he did hit three balls hard last night."

Well, doesn't the stuff on the right side of the comma (including the number "three") support it?

Posted by: Chris | April 25, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait until the day when we can give Kearns a day off and start Dukes instead of the Mack Attack.
Posted by: Scott in Shaw

i cant wait for the day when we dont have to give ak25 the day off because he aint starting anymo.
Acta believes Kearns is starting to come around? wow. i guess when he bottoms out at .90 acta will think hes really exploding. talk about a down trajectory trend.
btw i missed last nights game. what did ak25 do pray tell?

Posted by: dk | April 25, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

First to ask, "Why Peroni?"

Posted by: jwebdc | April 25, 2008 6:22 PM
-----
why not? for that matter, why Pilsner Urquell? I read they were trying to get Capitol City BUY Miller wouldn't let Cap City advertise so Cap City gave 'em the Bronx Cheer. too bad

Posted by: N@sfan | April 25, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Re: Kearns. 0 for 5. if I remember right that includes a near HR, a lineout, and a Zimmerman-like-defensive-play-by-Wright out. Maddening, whether you like him or not.

Posted by: Capybara | April 25, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Oops, I'm already exagerating the exploits of last night :) . That 4th inning popout by Kearns went nowhere near the wall.

Posted by: Capybara | April 25, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Yep! Our rodent friend was watching the game!

That's a great step, and an indication that he might be getting on track again. You can do the right thing and still not get hits sometimes.

Same thing with Zimmerman. He's had a few ABs over the last few days where it's starting to look like he's ready to break out.

Posted by: Chris | April 25, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Kearns is almost guaranteed to break out of his slump now -- I dropped him from my fantasy roster today.

Posted by: LANats | April 25, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

dk- Did Austin Kearns steal your girlfriend or something? Sheesh.

Posted by: JennX | April 25, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I guess Blastings was able to show up on time today.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | April 25, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Awesome, JennX. Snark rating: double off the wall.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Ummm ... Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned a double off the wall right then ...

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Ramirez looks like he's lost at least 30 lbs. Hmmmmn.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

I bummed Barry dimed out our game plan for the summer. Shell out $10 for tickets and then hang out at the Red Loft...Why on Earth would anyone pay to sit in the Batters Eye Box with that option available???

Posted by: N@sfan | April 25, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Nick!

Posted by: BSG | April 25, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

NJ cranks a two-run dinger!

Posted by: N@sfan | April 25, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Nats had a chance for a bigger inning there, Dempster could not find the zone to save his guinea pig's life. Let's hope that continues.

N@tsfan, yeah, but that's the best thing about the park. There are lots of places like that. I agree with those that say it lacks character, but I think that with a bit of time it might well acquire quite a bit of that. It's not a retro park built into the fabric of a blue collar city, they built it in a construction zone. But it's on the river, and on South Capitol.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Stop RFing swinging! Jeez!

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

See, Flop heard you and didn't swing. Look at where it got him! a first pitch strike.

Posted by: SF Fan | April 25, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Wrong. He stuck out on another ball. They need to take pitches.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Was just about to correct myself. That swinging Strike 3 was a ball... If we lay off, he might just walk 4 people in a row...

Posted by: SF Fan | April 25, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Perez is getting Dempster's disease. Throwing at ankles. Luckily Theriot bailed him out by getting thrown out at third. And Ramirez was out there on replay.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Perez doesn't have it tonight either. Mike OC, get ready.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

50 pitches over 3 innings isn't that bad. 3 strike outs on either side, again, not all that bad.

Posted by: SF Fan | April 25, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

The P-Nats are in Frederick this weekend, with 2:05 starts Saturday and Sunday.

Posted by: Cosmo | April 25, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I will learn to look for new posts before doing my own posts, eventually. Here is what I wrote:

natsfan1a-

Thanks. It turns out I will have to do another one. We had signed my two daughters up for a softball clinic that follows a George Mason women's softball game. I will be watching a game, but it won't be the Nats. It will be fun seeing my girls learning more about the game.

I will also have to keep my kindergarten son from flirting with the players. I'm serious.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | April 25, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

F-LO was robbed!!

Posted by: N@sfan | April 25, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Bob L - the mindset is there's a new bar in town in SE DC. It's called the Red Loft and it's only open 81 days out of the year. The have pretty decent (work with me here) live entertainment scheduled every time they are open. Cabs are EZ to get and there's no VIP line. Have fun!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh my goodness, strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play!! Nats = best defensive team in the National League*

*offer valid from 9:30pm to 9:45pm on 4/25/08. Other restrictions may apply.

Posted by: Nat Gas Futures | April 25, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

And the script is, Shaky Strength, and possibly, Mikey OC. Let's see. Good game.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Is LouPie pregnant? Also, advantage, Manny. Nice.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. C'mon Mike.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 25, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

So explain this.

We drop Burger King because we don't have room for a LOOGY. But then O'Connor comes in to get one guy out and is pulled. Now, going towards extras, we don't have a long man available.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 25, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

OMG I LOVE NIEVES!!!

Can we keep him, hunh? Can we?!

Posted by: JennX | April 25, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

OK after you explain Manny's bullpen mismanagement, explain this:

The bases are loaded in a tie game. The bad news, you're sending up a cold right-handed hitter, and the pitcher is holding righties to an .094 batting average. The good news is that the pitcher has just walked the bases loaded on 4 pitches. In fact, the pitcher has thrown 11 balls in 19 pitches. The catcher is a good but not great defender, and the pitcher, even when he has command, throws a biting slider that is very hard to block in the dirt. A walk or a wild pitch will tie the game.

So would swinging at the first pitch in this situation be:
A. smart
B. dumb
C. dumb as hell
D. Aaron F-ing Boone dumb

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 25, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

OK, good job Will.

(You couldn't do that again on that pitch if we gave you 100 tries, but good job.)

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 25, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh my god, the Nationals win it! Oh my god, the Nationals win it!

Posted by: Harry Doyle | April 25, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Woohoo! Maybe the Nats have found their Chris Coste.

Posted by: DkNatsFan | April 25, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Geez Steve. An unqualified positive statement would be okay right now.

Way to buzz-kill.

Eh.... nevermind. I'm still buzzed!

Posted by: JennX | April 25, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Woo-hoo!

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 25, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

2 in a row!!

Posted by: Nat Gas Futures | April 25, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Hah. That's more like it SoCH. :)

Posted by: JennX | April 25, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I heard it on the radio after i left sheetz, and it sure was a great call by Slowes. He seemed absolutely shocked!

Congrats on your first MLB homer Nieves, you earned it!

Posted by: natsinthevalley | April 25, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I caught most of the game and the walk-off, but did Teddy win?

Posted by: sitruc | April 25, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

3 of 4!

Posted by: natsinthevalley | April 25, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Teddy apparently cut across the field to cross the finish line first, but was disqualified.

Posted by: JennX | April 25, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

giddy...oh yeah!!

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | April 25, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

2 walk off home runs at the new park already! What it might lack in character is makes up for in excitement.

Posted by: Nats Fan in KC | April 25, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Funny, I was just saying the same thing to my tv!

---

OMG I LOVE NIEVES!!!

Can we keep him, hunh? Can we?!

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 25, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

We'll catch you next time then, PHS. Good luck to your girls! (and that's cute about your boy)

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 25, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

35,000 attendance - quite respectable!

Posted by: Traveler | April 25, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

!! The MLB website scoreboard says that Nieves's first MLB home run "lifts Cubs"!!

Posted by: Traveler | April 25, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Also, Odalis Perez smashing a pie (lemon merengue? boston cream?) into Nieves's face during the post-game interview...I think that was even more enjoyable than the homers tonight.

Posted by: Nat Gas Futures | April 25, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

It is so much more fun when we win!

Posted by: lowcountry | April 25, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

That was one heck of a catch by Johnson, though.

---

F-LO was robbed!!

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 25, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I think they use shaving cream - or maybe whipped cream. As he came on camera, I said to 1c, "I think that he's about to get a pie in the face."

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 25, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I was at the game, I'm now 2-0 this year. But..WTF with the scoreboard?! Throughout the game, it showed the wrong team batting, the wrong players, the wrong score, sometimes the lineups were there, sometimes not. Is it really that difficult to operate a scoreboard. Ridiculous. This is something the Nationals control that they need to do better with.

Posted by: MV | April 25, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

That was a GREAT game.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 26, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Oh. BTW. Dempster is downright scrawny right now. I couldn't believe the difference between the guy on the mlb bloopers video and the guy on the mound. His bio said he was 6'2" and 210 lbs. BS! He's all of 5'9" and 150 lbs maybe. Buck sez it's because he's off the juice.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 26, 2008 12:39 AM | Report abuse

And one more thing. I was a fan of Nieves BEFORE I saw what he looked like. Now? Drool.

JennX, I do believe we have ourselves another hottie.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 26, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

haha...at spring training my girlfriend was like "hes my favorite look at his arms, yummy" and i said well dont get too attached you will never see him in a major league uniform.

ooops

sorry to doubt you wil. you know how to handle pitchers and can go the other way. i would love for you to stay but they have too much money in loduca (worthless) and estrada. however, silver lining....he handles the AAA crew. Crash/Nuke 4 times over???

Posted by: love | April 26, 2008 2:02 AM | Report abuse

Whoever the center fielder is for the Cubs, he made one helluva catch today.

OK, 'nuff talking about the enemy.

NIckie J is BACK, baybee!

And Nieves! NIEVES?!? Who'dathunkit?!? That was one seriously pretty shot into our own bullpen!

Posted by: Juan-John | April 26, 2008 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Anybody tape Slowes' call of the Nieves HR? If you did, maybe send it to Youtube? :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | April 26, 2008 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Sweeeet! Sweet gamer, Barry! As the game proceeded in its own pastoral way I fell asleep! Somewhere in the 7th! Tired after a tough week and the Felipe Lopez Grand Slam game last night. What a reason to wake up! What a great photo of Will Nieves's Million Dollar Smile! This game pays you back, even when the wonderful play by play let's you know that all's right with the world and you go to sleep like a kid!

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 3:50 AM | Report abuse

This from AP story:

"Nieves is only with Washington because Paul Lo Duca is on the 15-day Disabled List with a bruised right hand, and he and Acta know his time with the Nationals may be brief.

"I think he's obviously impressing a lot of people, but it will be a push unless we decide to keep three catchers," Acta said.

A push to keep Nieves? What??!! This guy is doing it all, offensively and defensively. Why in the world would they drop him for LoDuca or Estrada, neither one of whom has been producing (unless you count LoDuca's arrogant hot air attitude, which may work in NY, but not here). I don't care how much you're paying LoDuca and Estrada -- Nieves now is better. Who cares that he's not a big name? Send LoDuca or Estrada somewhere, anywhere. But don't drop Nieves -- start him!

Posted by: Sec235 | April 26, 2008 3:54 AM | Report abuse

Jeeves has been slipping Slimmo into Dempster's Red Bull. (See: Pigs Have Wings, by P.G. Wodehouse. Though not strictly a Jeeves story, it is recommended by Orwell, who, having got shot through the throat fighting for what he believed in, see Homage to Catalonia, needed a good laugh.) Just like we at TerraNats needed this win, and not just the win, but a win with Will Nieves' smile! I'll be there when the sun comes out on Sunday!

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 4:19 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' 235! A great, good morning! I'm with you and JennX on Will Nieves - Can we keep him? Huh? Can we pleeeeez keep him? Sometimes an organization needs to take a chance, and not just be cold. I wonder what Manny thinks. Does he want to keep Nieves? We will never know. But then the adults somberly remind us that Barry Svrulga, our own beat writer (who has seen and knows more about baseball than all of us here) said LoDuca will end up hitting .290, and the chances of that happening were good enough for the front office (whose livelihoods depend on superior baseball knowledge) to bet $5.2 million on it. Besides being an extra backstop because he is as wide as he is tall, The College of the Seqouias' own Johnny Estrada had the following 2007, and remember that a catchers batting average is 20 points lower because they're always playing hurt, mostly with broken fingers from catching fastballs: In his first and only season with MIL, hit .278 with 10 HR and 54 RBI in 120 games...reached double figures in home runs for 2nd straight season, but posted career-low .296 OBP...made 111 starts, during which MIL went 57-54...batted .313 against opposing left-handed pitchers...hit safely in 17 of 19 April starts...belted first 2 grand slams of career: June 26 vs. HOU (off Rick White) and September 18 at HOU (off Felipe Paulino). Game-By-Game Highlights: May 14-15 at PHI, homered in back-to-back games at Citizens Bank Park...June 10 at TEX, posted 4 hits and 2 RBI.

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 4:35 AM | Report abuse

And in 20 at bats in 2008 our own Wilbert "Wil" Nieves : 435 On Base Percentage; Slugging .500; Batting Ave..350. But remember Sheinen: "April lies, people, April lies!"

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 4:43 AM | Report abuse

Do y'all realize who we beat the last two nights? Diamond Mind Projections' have the Cubs at 70% to win the Central, and the Mets to win the East! What a way to start a weekend!

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 4:49 AM | Report abuse

Got that backwards. Cub are 53% to win the Central; Mets 70% to win the east. tinyurlthe_2008_diamond_mind_projection_blowout_pt_2

Still, Sweeeet!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 26, 2008 5:00 AM | Report abuse

last was me.

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 5:02 AM | Report abuse

Prediction from the Rift. 4 days ago, I said we'd be over .500 for the next ten games. So far, at .750, so good.

Looks like we're beginning to click.

It'll be nice to see what Dukes can add.

Posted by: Natty Dread | April 26, 2008 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Keep the wins coming from the Rift Valley, NattyDread, and say hello to our grandma and grandpa for us!

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 6:57 AM | Report abuse

"In coming weeks, Nats hitters will revert to their career-long norms, which are adequate and may seem Ruthian compared with the long scoring droughts in RFK."

From Boz t\This Morning

Lot's to look forward to, folks!

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Post of the Day:

Bob L - the mindset is there's a new bar in town in SE DC. It's called the Red Loft and it's only open 81 days out of the year. They have pretty decent (work with me here) live entertainment scheduled every time they are open. Cabs are EZ to get and there's no VIP line. Have fun!

Posted by: | April 25, 2008 9:19 PM

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Nieves adds sooooo much to this team. Lo Duca proves that signing 5 million dollar free agents (ahem LAC crowd) is a risk and sometimes freezes a roster spot that does not let younger talent percolate up.

Now if we can keep Lo Duca on the DL assignment indefinitely (hey Luigi, can this be arranged?) then the problem of 3 catchers is solved. I do not think that it is a fluke that we seem to play much sharper as a team with Nieves in the lineup. He has a genuine fire in him that energizes others and yet focuses pitchers.

In the "what were they thinking?" department it seems that bringing in O'Connor as spot relief instead of starting an inning fresh is going against his grain at this time. His delivery appears to be one that has to warmed up one cylinder at a time or the chance of misfiring is large. I was worried when Ayala started the second of his two innings. He barely escaped disaster in the first one and he was missing location on his pitches by two feet. I think that the batter that Manny intentionally walked should have been pitched to but very gingerly. Ayala would thus have used double the time which would have given O'Connor an extra 8 or 9 warm up throws.

Posted by: Dale | April 26, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Dale - You called? May your first child be a masculine child. Luca Brazzi

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

No way Ray King walks in that run, but "Oh happy fault, oh necessary sin, that we should have such a redeemer!"

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

OK... So things worked out, but Manny has 2 managerial tendencies that drive me crazy.

1. Walking the bases loaded with 1st base open and less than 2 outs. I understand the baseball logic - setting up the double play - but your options are so limited at that point and there's not wiggle room. And then when you go and walk a run in like last night the worst part is you're no longer protecting a lead but you're still not better off in the situation. We've seen it twice so far this year and neither time have we seen the GDP. Saul really dug their butts out of the fire last night.

2. I know Manny doesn't like giving up outs, but why oh why wasn't Willie Harris bunting after Kearns singled to lead off the 9th?

I'm certainly not taking anything away from the win. It was awesome. Seeing it live was so cool. Calk one more curly W up to Nationals Park (that was barely warning track power last year). Things fell there way last night but it could have easily gone disasterously the other way.

Respect to the Cubs fans - of all the large draw visiting teams they've had the most respectful, well behaved fans I've seen. Of couse they never had the lead last night so who knows how that would have gone, but even when they tied it up they weren't intolerable.

Posted by: MKevin | April 26, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Eesh my spelling was terrible. It's like an iSpy Seek and Find game. Find all the misspellings and I'll paypal ya a buck!

Posted by: MKevin | April 26, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Hey, that's two Boswell baseball columns in a week. The Nats have won two in a row. Attendance has been reasonable. Milledge has gone a day without doing anything truly stupid. What's the next Nerds Journal Whineathon about -- maybe somebody stood in front of you at the game, and you were too meek to ask them to sit their butts down?

Posted by: nattybynature | April 26, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Nieves is out of options. Crap.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 26, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Deja vu again

Slowly slowly the April

Nats bats awaken.

Posted by: Natty Dread | April 26, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Great game. Cubs Johnson catch on Lopez was the best play I have seen in a long time. The guy caught the ball bounced off the turf and into the wall HARD! He still held onto the ball. NATS fans joined Cubs fans in applauding (No Flyers fans at park last night). Scoreboard sucked for 3-3.5 innings. This is not the first time. Hope they learn it by June. AK singled on pinch hit people. I have lost patience with him but Manny may be right. Don't have a ticket for Sunday otherwise I would love to see y'all again. Maybe next time. LETS GO NATS!!

Posted by: Sec 204 Row K Seat 11 | April 26, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Nieves won't clear waivers. I wouldn't expect them to dump either Estrada or LoDuca. I think you have to keep all 3 and ditch Majoiovioscha*#(&ck. FLo gives you outfield options if you need them, plus Dukes is on his way back.

Posted by: MKevin | April 26, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"Nieves adds sooooo much to this team. Lo Duca proves that signing 5 million dollar free agents (ahem LAC crowd) is a risk and sometimes freezes a roster spot that does not let younger talent percolate up."

um... while nieves is younger than loduca, he's not young. nieves is 30. enjoy the offensive surge while it's hear, it's very unlikely to continue for the full season.

don't get me wrong, i appreciate what the guy is doing right now, but he's more babe laughenburg than johnny bench.

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

errr... while it's "here." sheesh.

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

um... while nieves is younger than loduca, he's not young. nieves is 30. enjoy the offensive surge while it's hear, it's very unlikely to continue for the full season.

don't get me wrong, i appreciate what the guy is doing right now, but he's more babe laughenburg than johnny bench.

______________

Thanks for not making me say it. I was going to say "more Rick Short than Ryan Zimmerman," but you get the idea. It's a nice moment, no more.

However, I do think there's some rationale for keeping him. If you assume that Estrada really is more of a pinch hitter than a catcher at this point because of his totally ruined throwing shoulder, why not just leave him in the DY slot until he comes back and treat Nieves as your true back up? This is one of the things that Mackow... and/or Harris and/or Boone can let you do because of their flexibility. He is our only good option behind the plate defensively, and since we seem dead set on walking the bases loaded in every close game, we need someone who can block balls in the dirt, etc. I think I'd keep all three catchers and set Harris or Mackow... adrift. I would say Boone, but the nepotistas wouldn't consider it. Then when DY comes back, that's when you send down Nieves (I'm not at all convinced he wouldn't pass through waivers).

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 26, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

it's not nepotism, it's realism. right now, releasing boone would mean no true backup at either 1B or 3B. even if dmitri comes back, he's still the only backup at 3B.

it's no more realistic than releasing flopez to make a roster spot. he's the only backup SS.

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I can't even deal with my happiness right now. Its like I don't deserve it!

GO NATS!

Posted by: nats=class,class,class | April 26, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

[quote]Thanks for not making me say it. I was going to say "more Rick Short than Ryan Zimmerman," but you get the idea. It's a nice moment, no more.[/quote]

Nieves will probably get squeezed out by DL moves this year, just as old 00 Brandon Watson got squeezed out of the CF job last June despite putting up a great week while Logan, Langerhans or some other schmuck was on the DL. (And boy am I glad that those two guys are not in the picture this year, although I suppose the Langerhans demon has not yet been totally exorcised.) But Nieves, even though he's 30, probably still has options and should be able to go to Columbus with no problem, and even come back if needed later this season. And with LoDuca and Estrada both on one-year deals, this sets the stage for next year with Flores as the regular catcher and Nieves as his backup. Nothing wrong with that! Nieves may have his limitations at the plate, but the Yankees thought he was okay to be Posada's backup for a time, after all. He can't be all bad!

Posted by: wait til next year | April 26, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I know that Nieves is 30 (i.e. not young) but he is not bringing bad shoulders, torn meniscus, or other maladies into the lineup. He may be a hitting flash at the moment but his defensive skills are going to stay intact barring injury. I think that if Nieves is sent down his replacement (Lo Duca) is not going to bring in the same chemistry that seems inherent in Nieves. Nieves also is working beautifully with out best pitcher (Lannan). I expect Nieves to be sent down because that is the way things are around here, but I will be more than frustrated by it.

Posted by: Dale | April 26, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"Nieves may have his limitations at the plate,..."

Despite this small sampling of at bats he does seem to be hitting better than any other National regular or bench warmer. He does seem to be fazed by facing the Santanas of this world either, unlike 3, 4 and 5 of this batting lineup.

Posted by: Dale | April 26, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

just add "not" as in "not fazed"

Sheesh.

Posted by: Dale | April 26, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Nerds Journal logic -- 1) Nieves is "young," Milledge is old enough to know better. 2) Nieves is better than Paulie L and everyone who gets paid for a living to know these things has been wrong all these years.

Posted by: nonats | April 26, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I love Nieves, too, but agree with the more negative analysis. However, there's something to be said for riding a streak and I say play Nieves until he goes cold. Moving Estrada to the PH slot is a great idea, and in the meantime we get to see that boyish enthusiasm and energy every night. Viva Nieves!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 26, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

nonats and others: A lingering thought I've had is that Lo Duca is not the same player he was when juiced, but his ego clearly has not accepted this fact yet, and Nats management is still hoping it's not true. Possible?

Posted by: JennX | April 26, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and agreed 506 about playing Nieves till he gets consistently cold. I was just thinking how when Nook Logan first joined the Nats he was super-hot defensively, making several amazing diving/leaping catches in his first week and did nothing offensive at the plate (or, ahem, on the basepaths). During his first few games, my friends and I were saying, "Wow! Who IS this guy?!"

Of course I always hope that something like this week for Nieves is a career break-out and not just a fluke, but I know better than to bank on it.

Posted by: JennX | April 26, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I may be opening the "coverage is lacking can of worms", but last night the Nats win against the Cubs in the bottom of the 9th with a walk off home run (which happened to be the hitter's first major league home run.
This morning I go for the sports section --and, at least in my copy, the story in the center of E1 is about a kid who wasn't planning to play pro football who expects to be drafted today. The byline is New York, I couldn't find a mention of the Redskins, and the story is a profile that would be more at home in the Style section. I mean, this wasn't about the Nats, the Caps, the Wizards, DC United, the Mystics,(the local pro franchises) or the Georgetown Hoyas, Mason Nation, the Maryland Terrapins, (colleges of note in this area) or even a local high school athlete.
To quote Charlie Slowes (out of context) UNBELIEVABLE!!

Posted by: 422 | April 26, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Rob Mackowiak has played 174 games lifetime at 3B, altho only 7 since 2004. I guess he can play 1B, although as a lefty swinger, there'd be no good time for sitting Nick 3 or 4 times a month.
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it's not nepotism, it's realism. right now, releasing boone would mean no true backup at either 1B or 3B. even if dmitri comes back, he's still the only backup at 3B.

it's no more realistic than releasing flopez to make a roster spot. he's the only backup SS.

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 10:23 AM

Posted by: 307/418 | April 26, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

7 games in 3 years does not a reliable backup make. understand we're not just talking about a guy to spell zimmerman or NJ, altho we all hope that's the most they'll do. what happens if, god forbid, either of them gets hurt? at least at 1B they could rush meathook back. our options for 3B are not as good. while cory casto wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen, boone would still likely be better in the full time role. and having one guy who can do both CI positions is always a better roster spot. mackowiack is hitting worse as poorly as boone now and hasn't ever been as good as boone has been.

sorry to all the boone haters, but just like the (pre grand salami) flopez haters, we don't have a legit replacement for him to release him. he's our CI off the bench for the season. mackowiak/harris are infielders only in real emergency or 15th inning double switches.

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

that's "worse *or* as poorly"

and looking at the numbers, it's definitely way way worse (granted the tiny sample numbers).

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

oh, and the other 3B option at columbus besides casto? tony batista. you sure you want to wish him on the club again?? ;)

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

On the rally critter front, turned out that the reason the possum was so convincing in its performance was that it was indeed deceased (E's passed on! This possum is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! and so forth). Must have crawled into the garage and expired. So perhaps a possum would not be the best rally critter after all. Unless it represented the death of the slump. But then we'd have to sacrifice a possum to end any future slumps, which would not be in keeping with the traditional use of a live chicken. So it goes. Extra points for positive ID of any pop culture references in this posting. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 26, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

JennX- your "Can we keep him? Huh? Huh? is a classic! We cannot let Wil go!

422- I've been desperate for a replay of last night, and the Night of the Flow Grand Slam, but no - MASN "you'll get what we like and like what you get" was showing fishing and the Tom Davis show. Hungry to relive the triumph of the last two nights, I am just. . . left hungry. Surely Stan can insist on more replays after the all important Ponzi schemes called "Paid Programming."

MKevin- Loved the Saul Rivera "dug their butts out of the fire" mixed metaphor! "Digging Buttfire" is a good description of the last month!

Posted by: flynnie | April 26, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

'e's just pining for the fjords...

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

*sigh*

"definite thunderstorms" is how they describe the weather for 6 and 8pm tonight.

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

natsfan1a: Are you sure that he's not just really, REALLY convincing?

On the plus side, being marsupials, a rally possum would have a pocket to pull something out of...

Posted by: Wigi | April 26, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

It's certainly easy to be on the Will Nieves bandwagon right now, and with that qualifier, I'll join.

1. I love the energy he brings to the game. He bounces around behind the plate, and throws and blocks well. It's interesting to know that he played shortstop as a teenager. Apparently he and Saul played on the same team as kids and alternated between SS and P. He's one of the more athletic guys back there I've seen in a while. Maybe because I was an undersized catcher myself, I think MLB puts too much of a premium on having big catchers - either by height or muscle mass. Having a smaller guy like Nieves who can move well is a big plus for me.

2. I'm reminded yet again of the Tony LaRussa quote, "A team plays with the character of its catcher." The whole team does look more positive with him behind the plate. I heard Nieves in an interview when asked about his energy level respond that he knows the catcher is the one player all his teammates look at on every pitch. He has a wonderful understanding of how a catcher can impact an entire team's attitude.

3. I took a good look at his minor league stats, and it's surprising that he hasn't hit better in the big leagues. He's had multiple seasons at AAA where he's hit between .280 and .300. Will he be Joe Mauer? No, but he could be better than his .170 lifetime average would indicate. Going by the Bill James 85% theory, he ought to hit about .255 with little power if he plays everyday. That's respectable for a strong defender behind the plate. The question is whether he can keep up both the energy and performance when playing everyday. The other rub of course is that it will hard for the Nats to eat one of these other guys' contracts. They almost have to try to sneak him through waivers. They'll probably lose him. It'll be interesting to see how they play it.

Posted by: #4 | April 26, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"They almost have to try to sneak him through waivers. They'll probably lose him. It'll be interesting to see how they play it."

Nieves has precious little time in the majors, despite his age. I would think he'd still have options left and could be sent down without going through waivers. Otherwise, why would they have brought him up in the first place, knowing he'd more than likely have to be sent back down once LoDuca and Estrada were both healthy again? They can move Flores up and down almost with impunity this year, so why wouldn't they have done that if they'd have to risk losing Nieves by bringing him up instead of Flores?

Posted by: Nelson | April 26, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@nattybynature

right arm, brother, right arm. and boswell's column today is a keeper. not literary, but hard, cold, analytical insights about baseball realities as applied to there here nats right now. that's why the post's coverage is the best there is for the nats. it could be better, sure, but it's the best the nats have. and this is from someone who hates the post's sclerotic establishmentarian center-right slant in the rest of the paper, as well as its skinsolatry in the sports section...

Posted by: natty bumppo | April 26, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

No, no he's not. :)

Good point about the pocket.

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natsfan1a: Are you sure that he's not just really, REALLY convincing?

On the plus side, being marsupials, a rally possum would have a pocket to pull something out of...

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 26, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

unless i've been reading things backwards, MLB tends to frown on overly tall catchers, and any tall catcher tends to get the label "won't last behind the plate long" because their height is a disadvantage (getting up and down takes more effort).

bulk, that i agree with. but i think MLB GMs would prefer a 5'10" catcher over a 6'3" catcher.

Posted by: 231 | April 26, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Is anybody of a site where one can learn how many options a given player has remaining? The Nats site just seems to give you who is on the 25-man and 40-man rosters and background info on transactions involving them (i.e., old news releases on minor league contracts or other transactions).

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Nieves has precious little time in the majors, despite his age. I would think he'd still have options left and could be sent down without going through waivers.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 26, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Is anybody aware of/does anybody know of a site, I meant to say (daggone online edits).

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 26, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I've got the O's/White Sox game keeping me company while I study and can I just say... YIKES! It's nice to see that another team can have a horrible meltdown that leads to a game going from close to out-of-reach in just one inning. 5-0 O's.

Posted by: JennX | April 26, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

New and improved.

Posted by: Post | April 26, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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