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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 painful injuries in the first half of the year. Both spent all their time after the all-star break of the disabled list.

Today, the similarities continued -- while taking a turn toward the hopeful. During the morning practice, Hill threw for 10 minutes in the bullpen. Pena took batting practice.

Their reports? For Hill, no arm pain. For Pena, recovering from left rotator cuff surgery, no shoulder pain.

"This is much better than I felt last year at any point in time," Hill said after the throwing session. "I'm not taking any painkillers, I don't have to go through any radical treatment or therapy. I'm just doing massage and making sure I'm stretching it out really well. It's definitely the best I've felt in quite some time."

Pena, who has spent the last few months taking batting practice in Tampa, said that his shoulder is now feeling fully recovered and "real good," he said.

There is a point, of course, at which the Hill-Pena comparison... well, gets a little forced. A healthy Hill is one of Washington's top assets. A healthy Pena, meanwhile, will have to fight just to make the roster. Last season, Pena batted .205 in 195 at bats, all while fighting shoulder pain that only became a diagnosed injury when, finally, he spoke up.

"Thing is, I didn't want to say that because I wanted to play," Pena said. "So but the more I played, the more my shoulder was going bad. So one day they decided to talk to me about it, and I told them my shoulder was messed up."

In retrospect, he wishes he had mentioned the injury sooner.

"Yeah," he said, "but you know how it is when you want to play. You just want to be a man."

By Chico Harlan  |  February 17, 2009; 4:42 PM ET
 
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Comments

Several of you have rightly pointed out the reasons why AD should bat fourth: he slugs, he covers for Zimmerman, and he leads off the second inning a lot. I only wish we had a speedster or two who would make it much more likely that AD will see fast balls. Milledge stole some, was caught stealing a lot. He could steal 30, with some base running coaching? Dukes could steal 20 with the same coaching? In 2001, Guzman stole 25 bases. His last four seasons, his stolen bases TOTAL 25. Are his base stealing days over? Zimmerman, of course, steals nada. With that in mind, perhaps Zim should bat fourth and AD fifth? Zim will still be protected and have a real chance for a breakout year, AD will still lead off a lot of second innings and will slug behind the 35-double Guzman and the high OBP Dukes. This year, everyone will see AD’s patience at the plate and they will be more patient as a result? Can 60 bases be stolen in front of Zim and AD? Manny is not in favor of stealing bases and small ball, I know, but if successful percentages go up, he may relent and let them go more often?

Forget AD batting second; it makes no sense. Having said that, here he is: "I don't think batting second will change my approach," Dunn said. "I won't go up there and try to leg out a bunt. Maybe in certain situations, I may try to really force myself to get a guy over. Early in the game, I'm just going to swing it."

And a small ball funny that may give Manny a chuckle (Stan and I LOLed): "He's one of the best bunters we have," (Dusty) Baker said. "I work on bunting every single day," said Dunn. "I can bunt, seriously.” HUH?

BTW, AD has the best base-stealing % on the team? 76% Yes? No? But he says he only steals a base when he’s certain to be safe. Hmmm. Take a look at Boni's horrible SB % from last year.

Estoy Firmado! Go away FBI! YMOS, JimB

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 17, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"Both spent all their time after the all-star break ON the disabled list," right, Chico?

Posted by: Juan-John | February 17, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Dunn will never bat 2nd. Here's your best case lineup:

1. SS Guzman (S)
2. RF Willingham (R)
3. 3b Zimmerman (R)
4. LF Dunn (L)
5. 1B Johnson (L)
6. CF Dukes (R)
7. C Flores (R)
8. 2b Hernandez (S)
9. pitcher

You could switch Johnson and Dukes and get good r-l-r-l balance all the way down. Strongest possible outfield, having Dunn and Johnson next to each other guarantees your opposing pitcher burns at least 10 pitches on just them each time through the lineup.

Posted by: tboss | February 17, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

milledge turned 23 last year and led the team in homers and rbi and steals.


no way did he just lose his job.

Posted by: longterm | February 17, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

oh yea, and he was second in batting ave.

all this in his first full season.

i still don't understand why he gets so little love in here.

Posted by: longterm | February 17, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Milledge deserves a lot more respect than he's given alright. I'm not sure fans have ever forgiven him for the largely overblown 'trouble' tag that everyone placed on him.

Willigham is also unlikely to play in right because of his poor arm strength. I enjoy speculating on the roster but really can't shake the feeling that our 4o man roster is still in flux. I'm just afraid they'll trade a spare part, just as Johnson takes his annual trip to the DL, and we'll be derailed again.

Posted by: soundbloke | February 17, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Uh, given that the Blogfather is in Tampa, exactly what were the distances involved in that sinker-related restraining order, JiM?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 17, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"Levy will serve traditional ballpark fare and upscale menu items, featuring regional dishes and innovative versions of D.C.'s favorites throughout the concession stands, premium seating areas, 66 suites and 10 party suites, three exclusive clubs, portable carts and at the iconic Red Porch and Red Loft at Nationals Park."

Sounds almost exactly like what Centerplate was promising this time last year. They failed to deliver on their promises, though. Let's hope Levy does.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 17, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Has the team address the Centerplate/Levy issue? Other than old guy out; new guy in?

As far as I was concerned, it was more people issues than the product itself and it varied wildly from stand to stand. I was pleased overall last season. It's ballpark food - not Fogo de Chao!

Posted by: comish4lif | February 17, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

All of the fare that I sampled last year was pretty good, but then I'm not generally looking for haute (dog) cuisine at the ballpark.

Meanwhile, over at the Bog, there's a whole bunch of Nats-related posts. Get to clicking, folks!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 17, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Hoo Ha! Regional dishes. Does this mean that I can get a Mighty Mo, Orange Freeze, and wet fries?

Posted by: Catcher50 | February 17, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

First, Dunn gets suggested as a #2 hitter, now Willingham? What are you people ingesting? Stop looking at the sabremetrics & l/r balances for a second & think; Dunn & Willingham are both solid middle-of-the-order (#3-#6) hitters, with occaisional to proven power.
They are both now members of a team that had the devil of a time producing runs consistently in 2008, yet some of you think they should be considered for the #2 slot in the batting order for 2009. Is there a viral madness that has posessed the inhabitants of NJ?

If anyone of the high-OBP players should move to the #2 slot in the order, I'd consider NJohnson first; high pitch count, gap power, better historic W/K ratio than either Dunn or Willingham. But then again, it's all opinions at this point.

Posted by: BinM | February 17, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, the Levy group can get some local partnerships established & staffed by outfits like Ben's (half-smokes & chili) & Five Guys (Burgers & fries), along with some other local purveyors. I'd also like to see an expanded local breweries list available at the park, at both the Red Porch & mobile units (Carts), if necessary.

Posted by: BinM | February 17, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Bunt? with your best hitter? hasn't anyone here seen "a league of their own"?
****

Just to get the quote right, I googled

what comes up? A chat with the Blogfather from April 2006.

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 17, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

that should read
-- "a league of their own" bunt "your best hitter --

don't use angle brackets here

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 17, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

and just for the record, there are days I remember why I come here.

Youse guys are acceptional.

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 17, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.

***************
Estoy Firmado!
Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 17, 2009 4:49 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 17, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I also meant to add expanded (2-or more) to my list of local faves; You could possibly add HardTimes cafe' to the locals' list for multiple locations, if space were made available & they were amenable.

Posted by: BinM | February 17, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

"You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means."

You mean it DOESN'T mean "I am a d*ckweed, ignore everything I've said to this point"?

Posted by: nunof1 | February 17, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Manny will bat Dunn 5th, because, well, that's the best spot for him for Manny.

They better trade NJ while he's hot out of spring training, before he gets even a hangnail, because everyone will be worried again, the second he gets a nagging whatever. Otherwise, they need to move one of the outfielders.

Do you think Willingham would bring in more than Johnson at this point? Could this be the insistence on the lower salary?

Posted by: Section506 | February 17, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I got it from a very reliable sourse that Zimmerman is going to bat 3rd and Dunn will bat 4th.

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

@506:
OK, if Manny slots Dunn as the #5, who hits cleanup?

Posted by: BinM | February 17, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

@506 redux:

Willingham is a better bet to be traded at this point, because 1) his salary is lower, and 2) he's somewhat healthier.

My best guess is that neither one of them moves anywhere until mid-March.

Posted by: BinM | February 17, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

From Bill (IDIOT!) Ladsen;

"The Washington Post indicated in a blog on Tuesday that Zimmerman would not be in camp without a contract and the relationship between the two parties could be strained."

True enough, except that the story is titles "Zimmerman, Nationals aren't at odds" and follows with;

"Zimmerman is preparing for his arbitration hearing, which is scheduled for Friday, and working out in Viera, Fla. He is scheduled to fly to Phoenix on Thursday."

The most important part is that Bill (IDIOT!) Ladsen give NOT ONE SINGLE QUOTE to back up any of this.

Really I know its just mlb.com, but my 8 year old daughter would be a better beat reporter that this jerk-off!

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

"OK, if Manny slots Dunn as the #5, who hits cleanup? "

Was being a little bit snarky with this, I didn't mean it as an actual prediction, just as an ode to our fearless leader's deep concern for having a power #5, with comical results.

Posted by: Section506 | February 17, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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