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Nationals Journal: February 15, 2009 - February 21, 2009

A Post About Everything And Absolutely Nothing

* Panera offers the You Pick Two for $6.39. I recommend coupling the chipotle chicken sandwich with the orchard harvest salad. * Let me try to diagram the layout of the Nationals spring training complex, without the help of a...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2009; 6:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Rijo Takes Leave Of Absence

Jose Rijo, the Washington Nationals front office member linked most closely to the fraudulent signing of a Dominican prospect, has taken a leave of absence from the team. Rijo, who has worked for the team since 2005 as a special...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2009; 3:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Bright Lights, Lighter Players

There is perhaps only one day of the season when every last man in the clubhouse is clean-shaven. Well, except for Adam Dunn. And even he took care of the stubble around the goatee. Yup, this was photo day. Players...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2009; 2:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Some Strasburg Nuggets

Stephen Strasburg struck out 11 in 5 2/3 innings in a 6-3 victory over Bethune-Cookman in Compton, Calif., on Friday. He allowed one run (none earned), two walks and three hits. Here's a game story from the San Diego Union...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 21, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Why The Timing Makes Sense For Zim

In Ryan Zimmerman's perfect world, perhaps he plays ten more seasons, and none of them result in statistics worse than the ones he produced in 2008. And perhaps Zimmerman goes through another decade of offseasons, and none of them face...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2009; 9:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Kasten Expects Heavy Trade Talk

Washington President Stan Kasten today called it "likely" that his team could add a new face before the end of spring training, a byproduct of Washington's surplus at first base and in the outfield. "I'm sure we're gonna be having...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 20, 2009; 5:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Bonus: Boz on Zimmerman

Please take a look at Tom Boswell's online-only column on the Zimmerman signing....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 20, 2009; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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A Bog for the Road [Update]

Dan Steinberg has left Florida, and Chico is in deep mourning. Dan's left us a present, though. Enjoy! Hey, here's another one: The Bog is the gift that keeps on giving....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 20, 2009; 2:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Nats, Zim Still Talking About Long-Term Deal

Late last night, Ryan Zimmerman signed a one-year, $3.325 million contract. But already, there is talk about his next contract -- a much bigger one. The Nationals, in a meeting with Zimmerman yesterday, told their third baseman that they hope...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 20, 2009; 1:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Today's Numbers: $3.325, 44, 85

For sure, I'll post later in the day with more details about the Zimmerman signing. It will be interesting to hear about how this went down, and why the sides preferred, for now, a one-year deal instead of a long-term...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 20, 2009; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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The Strasburg Watch: 2009 Debut Is Today

Judging by the time stamp on Chico's post about the Ryan Zimmerman settlement, it was a rough night for our Nats beat writer. So I'll take the liberty of making the first post of the morning -- well, at least...

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 20, 2009; 8:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Zimmerman Avoids Arbitration, Signs One-Year Deal

The contract Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman signed late last night didn't satisfy the ultimate goal -- a long-term deal -- but at least it erased the most immediate fear. Because of the one-year, $3.325 million agreement, Zimmerman avoided...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 20, 2009; 3:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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About The Weather

Nothing stands all that tall in Viera, Fla., which is exactly the problem. The land stretches flat and far, a quilt of baseball diamonds and golf courses, with only a few churches and strip malls on the horizon. On...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 19, 2009; 7:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Single-Game Ticket Sales

This just in from the Nats: The Washington Nationals today announced individual ticket sales for the 2009 season at Nationals Park will begin on Tuesday, March 3 at 9:00am. At this time, fans may purchase tickets to Opening Day against...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 19, 2009; 5:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Agent Says Smiley Was Duped, Too

The player known as Esmailyn Gonzalez was a fraud -- a fake name with a fake age. But Carlos Alvarez, who assumed the identity of Gonzalez as he became a Washington Nationals millionaire signee, has certain characteristics that are true...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 19, 2009; 4:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Desmond's Hand Injury

Washington shortstop Ian Desmond missed out on a full season in 2008 because of a stress fracture in his left hamate bone. Desmond, with Class AA Harrisburg at the time, had surgery in June. The 23-year-old, now on Washington's 40-man...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 19, 2009; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Please Check Out the Bog

Dan Steinberg's Bog is full of Nats stuff, including a video of Adam Dunn. Lots of entries so I'm just sending you to the full blog. Latest item is on the Dunn-Milledge number swap. Check it out. It's like the...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 19, 2009; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Chief Throws, Nats Watch

When the Nationals unceremoniously dismissed injured closer Chad Cordero last year, they made clear they remained interested in re-signing their former all-star - just not at the $5 million or so he might have earned via arbitration had they held...

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 19, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Smiley: What I Saw

Greetings. Svrluga here. A guest appearance at the old joint, but both Chico and I thought I might be able to add some perspective to this whole Frowny Gonzalez situation. In December 2006, five months after the Nationals signed the...

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 19, 2009; 1:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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John Wooden, Smiley, Odie

Right now, Manny Acta is giving his troops the official John Wooden spiel -- his speech that precedes the spring's first full-squad workout. We'd have some live blogging from the event, but attendance at this meeting is limited exclusively to...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 19, 2009; 8:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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How Gonzalez Became Alvarez

In the spring of 2006, when Stan Kasten took a job as Washington Nationals president, he inherited a problem. His new team, after years of anemic scouting resources, had exactly zero Dominican prospects in the organization. General Manager Jim Bowden...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 18, 2009; 8:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Kasten: "I am angry. We've been defrauded."

For about 20 minutes today, Washington Nationals team president Stan Kasten spoke to the media about the false identity of the prospect formerly known as Esmailyn Gonzalez. In the coming minutes, as you refresh this blog, a transcript of what...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 18, 2009; 5:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (55)
 
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Willingham Avoids Arbitration

The Washington Nationals today signed outfielder Josh Willingham to a one-year, $2.95 million deal, plus up to $100,000 in incentives. The agreement allows Willingham, whose hearing had been slated for later today, to avoid arbitration. The outfielder said he expects...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 18, 2009; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (60)
 
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Report: Prospect Lied About Age, Name [Updated]

In 2006, the Washington Nationals signed a shortstop from the Dominican Republic. They gave him a bonus of $1.4 million. They welcomed him with a press conference. The unprecedented ceremony was meant not just to announce this particular signing, but...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 18, 2009; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (68)
 
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Chat Reminder

Chico today at 2 p.m.; here's the link....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 18, 2009; 10:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Prospect Lied About Name, Age

In 2006, the Washington Nationals signed a shortstop from the Dominican Republic. They gave him a bonus of $1.4 million. They welcomed him with a news conference. The unprecedented ceremony was meant not just to announce this particular signing, but...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 18, 2009; 5:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
 
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Zimmerman, Updated

(A little note... I'm posting my story for tomorrow's dead tree below. I try to give a little insight into Zimmerman's absence, the ramifications, and the stage this sets for a pivotal week in FoF's tenure with the Nats. And...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 17, 2009; 8:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Last Year, DL. This Year, OK So Far.

A year ago, Shawn Hill had a chance to be one of Washington's top-of-the-rotation pitchers. Wily Mo Pena had a chance to be one of Washington's middle-of-the-order hitters. Their respective seasons, thereafter, moved in lockstep: Both struggled. Both fought through...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 17, 2009; 4:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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New Vendor for Nats Park

From a news release from the Nats: The Washington Nationals announced today a partnership with Levy Restaurants, the leader in premium sports and entertainment dining, for food and beverage operations at Nationals Park . Levy Restaurants will be introduced to...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 17, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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So Far, Still No Zim

This morning, some of Washington's biggest-name position players officially reported for camp. Adam Dunn came in, dropped off his stuff, and chatted with Austin Kearns and Nick Johnson. Lastings Milledge is here. Same with Cristian Guzman and Elijah Dukes. So...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 17, 2009; 2:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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More On Perez

The Washington Nationals thought they were getting a pitcher. Instead, they've gotten a problem. This morning Manager Manny Acta said that the organization has yet to make contact with absent pitcher Odalis Perez, who is holding out for a better...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 17, 2009; 9:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
 
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Odalis Perez Holding Out

Washington pitcher Odalis Perez still is not in camp. And according to one report, he might not be showing up any time soon. Perez, still in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, told ESPNdeportes.com that he is holding out for...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 16, 2009; 7:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Chatter Up! [Update]

Burned by the lack of a second source. The chat lineup has changed. Steinberg is now on Tuesday at 2 p.m. (not Wednesday). Here's the link. Chico is still chatting Wednesday, but at 2 p.m. (not noon). Here's his link....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 16, 2009; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Bergmann To 'Pen, And Other Notes

After Jason Bergmann finished his off-the-mound throwing program today, he asked Manager Manny Acta a question fundamental to his season: "What am I?" A starter, or a reliever? Bergmann had a right to be uncertain. In 2008, he began as...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 16, 2009; 3:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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The First Workout? Yes, It Went Well

You could make a calendar just from the images of the Nats' two-hour workout this morning. It was windy, no warmer than 65 by the end, but the sun was just strong enough to give everybody a long morning shadow....

By Chico Harlan  |  February 16, 2009; 3:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Pitching Practice

About 10 minutes from now, Washington's pitchers and catchers will head out to the field for some stretching, the first part of the first official team workout. The day's full itinerary was posted in the Space Coast Stadium clubhouse. 10:05...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 16, 2009; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Manny's Best Team Yet

I'd imagine that even most husbands and wives don't often communicate with the regularity of baseball writers and managers. On game days, we talk both before and after; for Manny Acta, that's 324 media encounters right there, and that doesn't...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 16, 2009; 6:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Reporting For Duty... After Some Anxiety

One-and-a-half months ago, Jordan Zimmermann started to get a bit nervous. The Washington Nationals still hadn't called him, inviting him to big league camp. For all of his recent acclaim -- Baseball America named him the organization's top prospect; Washington...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 15, 2009; 2:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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A Much Cheaper Version Of Manny

Nick Johnson is 30 now, the age where, typically, the learning curve plateaus, where players are more often inclined to maintain than leap forward. Well, Johnson is trying to leap. That's my dead tree story, available for no-trees-killed consumption right...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 15, 2009; 6:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
 
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