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Exit notes from Coors

* We've heard this before, but the Nats don't believe Alberto Gonzalez's injury is serious. That's what Manny Acta said, at least. "He just has a contusion on his hamstring, slammed it real hard when he slid into third base (in the third inning)," Acta explained. "And then he kind of aggravated it a little bit running (in the sixth). But we don't think it's anything serious."

* Ryan Zimmerman was a surprise pinch hitter in the ninth tonight, flying out to center. Said Acta: "Everything indicates that he might be able to start (Tuesday)."

* Impressive day for Tim Redding, if only because he had no right to last as long as he did. The guy threw 58 pitches through two innings! He admitted that he felt horrible in the first tonight; he had no feel on his pitches; his shoulder felt stiff. But he kept going, and made up his mind to limit the damage. That's not the kind of performance that earns you honors, but it's the kind of performance that enables a career. Vintage Redding.

In a strange way, Redding can appreciate a start like that. Sure, it has no aesthetics, but it's the sign of a pitcher who knows his craft.

Earlier in his career, Redding said after this start, he probably wouldn't have made it out of the first inning.

* Oh, and now Redding has a 1-14 record lifetime against the NL West. That's almost as random as the Nats' 16-8 record in Redding's starts this year.

* Emilio Bonifacio: 3-for-5, two runs, one Usain Bolt stand-up triple.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 5, 2008; 1:27 AM ET
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Next: Washington Nationals (W-4)


De la Rosa: his full name is Jorge de la Rosa Gonzalez. He is Alberto's brother, and he says that the buttocks will heal just fine, that the Attorney General always had a stalwart backside. So no worries, mate.

It's not that he walks so many guys. He doesn't. But often, he gets really wild. 17 games, 8 wild pitches? Hits a lot of guys, too. Hmmmmmmmm. And he gives up a lot of hits and runs (7 ERA). Since he's in the 10-hitter category of pitcher, wait for your pitch!!!! 2-0 and 3-1 are typical. I pay you enough to do that, don't I?

Estoy firmado! Segue to Segway! Go away FBI! In the name of General Manager and YMOS James Gordon Bowden III, Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen.

Posted by: Jim B | August 5, 2008 1:38 AM | Report abuse

so also, glut is the root of glutton, not a body part, i believe GLUTE is the part of the body you would like to have referenced... im still ron burgundy?

Posted by: love | August 5, 2008 2:14 AM | Report abuse

Chico -

Nice writeup on Lenny Harris.

A question though - can you ask around as to why the district wants to play a college football game at Nationals Park? After all the angst in building this baseball only stadium, why are they interested in playing football in it?

Posted by: DanD187 | August 5, 2008 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Very informative story on the process of teaching batting.

Posted by: 422 | August 5, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Six months into the season and Harris needs state of the art video tools to and 12 hours of thinking to see what we all can see from the upper deck or on MASN none HD. Milledge is trying to over swinging to an extreme and trying to pull every pitch, worse he has not changed that approach from Spring training Thanks Lenny.

Funny thing is this solution to the tap out Thursday night off Jamie M was to encourage him, like Milledge would lose his self confidence? This "insight" into how Harris does his job just confirms to me that he must go. He is completely ineffective and the results with Milledge show that. Chico without knowing it confirmed that Lenny's approach has not helped Milledge. He still over swings at every pitch, where is the progress? Sorry Lenny you need to go back to school and get a degree if you want to be a psychologist. Lasting needs some tough love, not a friend who tells him he is the greatest and to keep is head up. He needs a hitting coach that tells him to follow the plan, keep you head in or sit awhile and think about it.

Posted by: Fire Lenny Harris NOW! | August 5, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they should designate a game "Lastings Milledge Bunt Single Day" and only allow him to bunt the ball until he learns to appreciate the line drive.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 5, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

The Lenny Harris article was the reason that Chico had to skip two gamers. This was the big story that took him off his beat (again)? Dear God, what a newspaper.

Posted by: ohplease | August 5, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Again? C'mon, no offense to Chico, but did you REALLY miss him that much?

You didn't miss a single thing because the articles and notebooks continued without him. We got an extra story so quitcher whining.

Posted by: ohhush | August 5, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I agree nice work Chico.....and because you can not share opinions openly, let me share mine (I feel sure Chico left a hint in covering how Lenny reacted to the tap out against Jamie M.).

Lenny is not effective. He has adopted Acta's all positive words approach and as in the Milledge case Chico documented this approach has not gotten the hitters attention and very little if any progress has been made. They are ignoring Uncle Lenny and going up without a plan. That tells me his approach in working with hitters is not working after 6 months. At this point in the season, if your approach was working, Lastings would not still be swinging from his heels still. Teachers need to change approaches after 6 months if they do not get the results they want from a student. I agree with those who believe Milledge needs some tough love on this issue.

Sorry, I am very upbeat on lots of things lately. Lenny Harris is not one of them. Lopez is gone and we are 4-0!

Posted by: JayB | August 5, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Bonafacio's speed is electrifying (he gets from home to third faster than anyone I can remember seeing since Deion played baseball). Kudos also to Kearns for some excellent play in RF last night. He made two or three plays that a normal outfielder probably wouldn't have made.

Posted by: TJH | August 5, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I love reading this guy and he's great about answering emails.

He could probably use a little input from the NJ grammar police, but his heart is in the right place.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 5, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

love, I thought that a "glut" was what we had at the catcher position earlier in the season (or was that a "gut"?). :D

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 5, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I also found the Harris piece interesting. Thanks, too, for a good gamer, Chico. I didn't see the game but thought that you painted a good picture of the "spin cycle."

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 5, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

How come we never see the Nats in HD, yet the Orioles always seem to be in it? People point to the fact that the Nats don't have very many people that watch the game...well perhaps if they showed the game in HD more fans might watch. These days I have a better chance of watching any other team in baseball but the nats in HD.

Posted by: sandecker | August 5, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Good column and your backups did well here in your absence.

I agree with JayB, that Lenny Harris is ineffective. He must be judged in the cruel meritocracy of MLB on his results, not on his goals or desires. He has been given a fair chance and found wanting.

Watching the Nats had become an obligation now it's fun again.

Let's sign the draft choices and...

let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | August 5, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, NatsNut. Your posting was funny and his response was thoughtful and clever (I see what you mean about the grammar police, but the players would probably laugh if we tried to play pro baseball, too). Loved the shower curtain line! My sister-fan-friend 1b and I have always addressed players as "Mr." for the reason that Hayhurst stated (even though many are young enough to be our sons).

I think that I've shared on here before about 1c's question to Brain Schneider at one Nats event (it was something like: "Doesn't your hand get sore from signing all of that stuff?" The Schneid's straight-faced reply: "Nah, I'm used to it.").

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 5, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

i have never been a hitting coach but i have coached other sports. what bothered me about all i heard this spring was that LH was teaching everyone the same method. a good teacher takes what each has and makes it better.

Posted by: my thoughts | August 5, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Several Yankees employees who scouted in the Dominican Republic have been placed on leave by the organization pending an investigation by Major League Baseball into the signing of prospects, according to a person in baseball who has been briefed on the matter. Major League Baseball and the F.B.I. are investigating whether club employees paid players small portions of bonuses they reported to baseball and kept the difference for themselves. The Yankees are among the six to eight teams that are being looked at as part of the investigation, the person said.

Posted by: 756* | August 5, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

mythoughts -- you have hit the nail on the head. Each student ( of anything) has a different style of learning and a different skill set. A good teacher has to be a chameleon in order to get results. I did enjoy reading the story about LH and it answered some questions but I agree with an earlier poster ( forget who) that was amazed that it took him so much work to spot something pretty obvious. The batters also don't seem to have the line on the pitcher of the day and how to adjust to his style - something Ray Knight points out regularly. The Jamie Moyer situation is a case on point.

Posted by: masnstinks | August 5, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

re LH:

The fact that they haven't pulled the plug on him yet is very troubling. I feel that his swing-first "aggressive" approach to hitting tugs at the heart-strings of Jimbo's toolsy approach to acquiring players. Kind of like a "These guys have tools so cut them loose. We don't need no stinking walks!"

Chico, if Lenny Harris ever graces the post-game conference, please ask him what approach he teaches the players. Please then ask Bowden about his take on OBP, etc? Outwardly, Jimbo toes the line, sure, he doesn't want to look baseball ignorant. But deep down, I'm guessing he's a swing first and swing for the fences kind of guy.

Posted by: 756* | August 5, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"mythoughts -- you have hit the nail on the head. Each student ( of anything) has a different style of learning and a different skill set."

I played baseball a long time, and I can't remember a sinlge coach who advocated swinging at the first pitch or being overly aggressive in that manner. Obviously, you've got to tailor your coaching to each individual hitter, and in some cases, tailor the team approach to the pitcher on a given night. But the underlying failsafe in all of the approaches is:
1. Be patient
2. Work the count.
3. Get a good pitch to hit (one that you can drive)
4. Make a good swing.

Posted by: 756* | August 5, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Chico - great story on Lenny Harris and the dynamic between a player and a coach.

Milledge always seems almost over-enthusiastic. Hate the Boston analogy (again), but he reminds me of a young Paul Pierce. Extremely gifted, with a desire to be great, but almost too hyped to be effective. With Pierce, it used to be the 3-14, with 0-6 from the 3 point line, in the first half. With Milledge, it's "I'm back in the line up, this team needs runs, I'm Mr. Potential, I've got to deliver, this pitch looks hittable, oops."

I'm looking forward to Lastings first title, too.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 5, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse


I enjoyed your story, but still want Lenny Harris replaced. You showed he is trying and cares, but the numbers speak for themselves.

If you want to look into another story beyond the gamer (and folks should leave you alone- it's great to get the extra story), please look deeper into the progress in signing draft picks, and who is at stake. We have signed only one of the top 5, and while there are 10 days left, they can't all be signed last minute. I am sure the negotiating team is the same for each of them, or at least the folks who make the final decision.

Posted by: Positively Half St | August 5, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"I'm looking forward to Lastings first title, too."

Pierce got his title after the Celtics traded for established players Garnett and Allen.

I'm looking forward to Nats mgmt signing or trading for 2 of the best players in MLB.

Posted by: 756* | August 5, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else notice how much Lastings LOVES looking at himself on the scoreboard?

Even when he's coming up to bat, the camera's close up enough you can see his eyes looking up to the right to see how he looks on the scoreboard. And checks himself out after EVERY play he makes in CF.

Mostly it cracks me up, but that might be the first thing I'd coach him on his approach at the plate. QUIT WATCHING YOURSELF AND THINK ABOUT YOUR AT-BAT!!!

Posted by: NatsNut | August 5, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Your features are fantastic. THAT is the stuff I want to read. This blog is great for instant information, but when I want to READ about baseball, I don't read the gamers, I read pieces like today's on Harris. Great job.

Posted by: Jon | August 5, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Actually, NatsNut, Milledge is pioneering the newest techniques for self-improvement. In the last couple decades, players have increasingly used tapes of themselves to analyze their mechanics and find problems in their swings. Our boy Lastings is taking it to the next level: he analyzes his swing IN THAT VERY MOMENT, as part of his process of constant and continuous self-assessment. Truly, the man is ahead of his time.

Posted by: Scooter | August 5, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Okay, so the plan is still on to take a field trip to Nats320 when the outage occurs?

This will be a non-hostile takeover!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 5, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I want Lastings to be full of confidence and self-love. I won't be hanging out with the guy; I just want him to be a great ball player. I do believe that with experience and with better instruction that he will at least come much closer to the potential scouts have seen in him.

Posted by: Positively Half St | August 5, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Sounds good, 506.

Posted by: Positively Half St | August 5, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Went to bed when it was 5-3 last night, so I missed EBoni's triple. Just caught it on the highlights. Ummm ... wow. Not only was he comfortably standing at third, but it looked as though he had serious thoughts of trying for home. On a ball that would have been a routine double for most players.

And now, for the big news. I was startled to realize this morning that I haven't shaved since Friday. Originally, it was intended to be the standard August-in-Washington beard, but the truth is now crystal clear: I am singularly responsible for the Nats' winning streak. I pledge to the Constituency that I Shall Not Shave And Jeopardize The Streak, Irritated Wife Be Darned!!

You're welcome.

Posted by: Capitol Hill | August 5, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Willie Harris, of course, does not need to use videos to assess his prior plays, due to his time travel abilities.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 5, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Yea, Lasting's fine. I've seen a couple of his interviews with Debbie and he's well-spoken and humble enough to be completely supportive of his teammates.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 5, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Way to take one for the team, Capitol Hill's wife. :D

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 5, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Hurray, Comrade Capitol Hill!

By the way, Willie Harris keeps a razor in the dugouts so he can shave his new-grown stubble between innings.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 5, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Great feature on Lenny/Lastings. I'm not an ardent LH defender, but I find it hard to read that piece and come away thinking it proves that the man should be fired, as some have argued above. It says, basically, that Lastings has never been trained, and that Lenny is working overtime in an effort to train him at the big league level. He lost his mechanics for awhile, as even veterans do from time to time. Lenny diagnosed the problem, worked with Lastings to correct it, and saw some results. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work?

For the record, I agree that hiring a hitting coach that's never been a hitting coach was a questionable move, and that LH has to take some heat for the woeful offensive performance across the board. I just don't think anything in Chico's article leads to the conclusion that Lenny should be fired.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 5, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Good one, 506!

Also, Chico slipped in a new post before the deadline.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 5, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Man, if we have to go a full 27 hours without NJ, this blog better be able to wipe our butts when it's done.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 5, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: natsfan1a | August 5, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

PTBNL - Your Celtics basketball analogy takes me back to winter days in The Gahden. When "World" Free would bring in the ball from the opposite end of the court, the Bahston fans would shout, "Shoot! Shoot!" It really p***d him off. Perhaps we should shout, "Swing! Swing!" But the Nats had success against Moyer last time swinging at first pitches, and drove him out of the game early. If word gets 'round that you'll never swing at the first pitch, you'll see a lot of fat first pitches. Like Lastings said about Livo, it doesn't matter whether you swing at the first pitch or not, because they're all strikes, they're all different, and he'll throw 'em all night, even if it takes 155 pitches to end the game.

Posted by: flynnie | August 5, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: flynnie | August 5, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Man, if we have to go a full 27 hours without NJ, this blog better be able to wipe our butts when it's done.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 5, 2008 10:46 AM


Ummm, what?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 5, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

So if Dukes and Zimmerman are both back in the lineup tonight, I hope they play Harris in left, Milledge in center and Dukes in right. Kearns would have to sit unless he can play first. Dukes can play center some nights, but Milledge is hitting right now. Harris can sit against lefthanders.

Posted by: NatBisquit | August 5, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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