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

Evening Reading List

Chico was posting so fast Saturday, I didn't want to interrupt the flow or the discussion. So this list is a little ripe but still worth a look, I think. First, Aaron Boone's surgery has been scheduled for Thursday at...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 21, 2009; 6:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Health, Marriage And Sickness

Notes, notes, notes... * Acting GM Mike Rizzo on the Bard signing: "We figured, liked I said, that we'd never stop trying to improve our club, be it inch-by-inch or step-by-step. We think it's going to be a competitive situation."...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 21, 2009; 5:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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The Start Of A Comeback

[UPDATE, 4:15 p.m.] - The comeback falls just short. Nats lose 12-11. Jason Motte came on for the Cards in the ninth and retired Josh Willingham (K looking), Austin Kearns (5-3) and Javier Valentin (F-8) in order. --- Maybe it...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 21, 2009; 3:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Nats Sign C Bard

The Nationals today agreed to a non-guaranteed minor league contract with catcher Josh Bard, adding the 30-year-old as a possible back-up behind Jesus Flores. Bard spent this spring with the Boston Red Sox, who released him three days ago. If...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 21, 2009; 2:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Not Your Expected Superhero Blockbuster

[UPDATE, 1:44 p.m.] -- JZ is out after just two innings; Terrell Young on the mound. Zimmermann, by one count, threw just 47 pitches. --- Jordan Zimmermann's spring infallibility lasted today until the Cardinals had taken all of, um, four...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 21, 2009; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Zimmermann Sick, But Still Going

There's a some buzz around HSCS, because we're about 15 minutes away from the first pitch, but already the stands are filling; some Nationals employees are even talking about a potential sellout, which would be the first of the spring....

By Chico Harlan  |  March 21, 2009; 12:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Today's Lineup

We're seeing some legitimate lineups now. Hernandez -- 4 Guzman -- 6 Zimmerman -- 5 Johnson -- 3 Dukes -- 8 Willingham -- 7 Kearns -- 9 Nieves -- 2 Zimmermann -- 1 Scheduled pitchers: Zimmermann Bergmann Mock T. Young...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 21, 2009; 11:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Beimel On Coming Here, American Idol, Etc.

Joe Beimel is in NatsTown at last, and the team has already mapped out his next steps. This morning, he'll throw to hitters on one of the backfields at this complex. On Monday, after a day off, he'll pitch in...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 21, 2009; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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More On Balester

Just one more post on Collin Balester -- a little epilogue to his four-inning, five-run outing today, if you will. First of all, he's not yet resigned to some sort of extended Class AAA Syracuse sentence, but he knows it's...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 20, 2009; 6:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Ninth Inning: Tigers 5, Nats 2

The Nats are down 5-2 entering the ninth, and are about to fall to 9-9-2 in the Grapefruit League. A quick statistical update ... * Lastings Milledge went 0-for-4 today with three strikeouts. * WMP had two hits in three...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 20, 2009; 3:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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D. Sheinin on D. Willis

Head over to the Baseball Insider to read Dave Sheinin on Tigers pitcher Dontrelle Willis....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 20, 2009; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Another Rough Start For Balester

Collin Balester might want to start shopping for these, because it's cold in Syracuse. Even in April. His start, in the fourth inning, went from shaky to shoddy. In that frame alone: six hits allowed, four runs. You saw all...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 20, 2009; 2:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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Dmitri's Chances At Roster Spot Dwindle

After missing almost three weeks with a back problems, first baseman Dmitri Young today took his first step toward a recovery. At the Nationals' spring training headquarters in Viera, Young took 30 swings this morning. With Young eyeing his return,...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 20, 2009; 1:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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Lineup vs. Tigers

Milledge - 8 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dukes - 7 Kearns - 9 Valentin - 2 Pena - DH Cintron - 4 Gonzalez - 6 P: Balester...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 20, 2009; 12:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Morning Reading, NL East Style

Struggling a little for a reading list this morning; seems everyone is fixated on some sort of basketball tournament or something. Chico's driving to Lakeland, home of the Tigers, so I thought I'd throw out something on each of the...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 20, 2009; 8:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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The Numbers Behind The Change

In my story this morning, I describe a bit of Joe Beimel's transformation. "Compare him to what I saw 10 years ago," said one scout, "he's a totally different pitcher." This does not oversimplify matters: You have Joe Beimel, Act...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 20, 2009; 5:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Nats Cut Six, Including The GBE

After today's game, the Nationals made their latest round of cuts, trimming their spring roster by six. Reassigned to minor league camp: * P Gustavo Chacin * 1B Brad Eldred * INF Pete Orr * OF Ryan Langerhans Optioned to...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 19, 2009; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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An Unseen Comeback For The Ages

It will be one of the harder challenges of my reportorial career to inform the world of Washington's 5-4 comeback this afternoon. As the Nats scored the final four runs, the Fourth Estate was barricaded in the home clubhouse, waiting...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 19, 2009; 3:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Eighth Inning: O's 4, Nats 1

The transactional circumstances of Wednesday made this a big game for Washington's first two pitchers, Shairon Martis and Wil Ledezma. Because of Shawn Hill's release, the Nationals have a void in their starting rotation. Because of Joe Beimel's signing, the...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 19, 2009; 2:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Through Four: O's 2, Nats 0

First, a little ode to good defense. Let's set the stage: Corey Patterson is in center field this afternoon. In the fourth, with two outs, the Nats were already behind 2-0. Shairon Martis had two really efficient innings (1-2-3s in...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 19, 2009; 1:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Morning, er, Afternoon Reading

First things first: Chico on Shawn Hill and the injuries to Milledge and Belliard. Check out this blog post by Richard Justice -- one of my all-time favorite people -- on Aaron Boone. The Nats' injury curse apparently spreading to...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 19, 2009; 12:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Lineups

The O's are in town. Here's who Washington is trotting out there... Hernandez -- 4 C. Guzman -- 6 Dukes -- 9 Willingham -- 7 Casto -- 5 Eldred -- 3 Patterson -- 8 Pena -- DH Nieves -- 2...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 19, 2009; 10:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Arrivals, Delays

Good morning. We're expecting Joe Beimel to arrive at HSCS sometime this morning, but he's not here yet. The guy had to fly in from California. One guy who probably won't be arriving any time soon: Jorge Sosa. Signed by...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 19, 2009; 9:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Three Errors for Dunn

Well, Adam Dunn, the feel-good story of the WBC thus far, laid an egg in last night's meaningless game in Miami -- three errors at first base. Here's Amy Shipley's final gamer, which didn't make all of the print editions...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 19, 2009; 8:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Chatter Up!

Boz -- Thomas Boswell to search engines everywhere -- will chat at noon today. Here's the link. And mark your calendars: Nats President Stan Kasten will chat on Tuesday, March 24, at 11 a.m....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 19, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Milledge Leaves Game With Injury

[UPDATE, 10:24 p.m.] -- Milledge has a left knee contusion; he collided knee-to-knee with Florida's first baseman while chugging down the line. "Nothing serious," Manager Manny Acta said. He is day-to-day. Acta also said that Belliard's injury is not serious;...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 10:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Nats Vs. Fish And Other Updates

The Nats are losing 7-1 in the eighth. Scott Olsen, facing his former team, allowed four runs in four innings. (Total line: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). Emilio Bonifacio, facing his former team, is 4-for-5...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 9:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Belliard Leaves Game With Injury

[UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.] -- the team is saying that Belliard has a left ankle sprain. He will be reevaluated in the morning. --- Ronnie Belliard left the game here in the fourth inning with an apparent left ankle injury. Belliard...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 8:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Through Three Innings At HSCS

Though three innings, we've got a 1-1 game. Among the highlights -- * The in the second, singles by Josh Willingham and Javier Valentin helped the Nats to their first run. * The Marlins, against lefty Scott Olsen, tied things...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 8:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Some Pre-Game Notes

Notes, notes, notes. * Reminder: Watch everything tonight on MASN. Rob Dibble. Bob Carpenter. MASN, my friends. Their updates are more instantaneous than mine. And in HD! (Or is it? Not sure. Either way, newspapers haven't mastered that trick yet.)...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 7:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Rizzo On Roster Moves

The transcription from a chat with acting GM Mike Rizzo. Q: What did you like about Beimel to bring him in? Well, Joe is a consummate professional. He's good against left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters. He really gives us balance...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 6:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Tonight's Lineups From HSCS

OK, gotta catch up here. Posts-a-plenty forthcoming. Get ready to read or run! Florida Bonifacio -- 5 Baker -- 2 Hermida -- 7 Ross -- 9 Uggla -- 4 Sanchez -- 3 Maybin -- 8 Andino -- 6 Johnson --...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 6:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Hill Released, Beimel Signed [Updated]

Unwilling to count on the health of Shawn Hill, the Washington Nationals today released one of their most promising, troubled pitchers. Unwilling to enter the season with an assembly line of unproven bullpen pitchers, the Nationals signed free agent left-hander...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 5:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Nats Release Hill, Sign Beimel To One-Year, $2 Million Deal

The Nationals today released starting pitcher Shawn Hill and signed free agent left-handed relief pitcher Joe Beimel to a one-year, $2.0 million deal. Both moves can be attributed to uncertainty. The Nationals gave up on Hill, despite his promise, no...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 3:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (91)
 
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Strasburg's a Perfect 10(0)

I received an email Wednesday about company called Real Baseball Intelligence (RBI), which has launched a website that covers the amateur draft. Here's the link. Not surprisingly, Stephen Strasburg is their projected first pick; there are a few videos attached...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 18, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Open Heart Surgery for A. Boone

Former Nat Aaron Boone will have open heart surgery. More detail from the Houston Chronicle. Also, just got a release from Sports Illustrated; there will be an Adam Dunn piece by Ben Reiter in the next issue, entitled "Where's the...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 18, 2009; 11:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
 
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Official Beat Writer Roster Prediction Post

We have just less than three weeks until Opening Day, and those three weeks could do much to alter, or even annihilate, this prediction. During the next three weeks, for instance, we'll know if the Nationals thin out the first...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 10:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
 
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A Bit More About Grissom

You can read today's piece on Nats first base coach Marquis Grissom here. The guy, clearly, believes in baseball's power as a teaching tool. He told me that 78 percent of the kids in his program, the MGBA, come from...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 18, 2009; 6:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
 
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Your Opening Day Starter... John Lannan

John Lannan is 24 years old. In 2008, he was a rookie. In fact, he spent the first days of that season in the minors. But given how Lannan has performed since -- how the team views him as an...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 17, 2009; 7:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
 
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Mike Rizzo, Briefly Noted

A few media members chatted this afternoon with acting GM Mike Rizzo. Among the topics of conversation: Trades, Matt Chico, Jordan Zimmermann. In order... On whether he envisions any deals going down to clear the outfield logjam: Rizzo: Yeah, we've...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 17, 2009; 3:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
 
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Post-Intrasquad Wrap (And A Big Goof)

This game took a while, but finally, it's over. Team 2 defeated Team 1, 9-4. (To help us keep track of who's who, Daniel Cabrera's team won. None of the bullpen guys surrendered a run.) Two hours, 36 minutes. Manny...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 17, 2009; 1:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Cabrera, Wells, J. Tav.

We're here in the sixth inning; one team or another is winning 4-2. Let's put it this way: Daniel Cabrera's team is losing. He let up four runs in four innings. Kip Wells, the other starter, let up two runs...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 17, 2009; 12:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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The Organ Is Quiet, The Crowd Doesn't Roar

It's strange, sitting here to watch an intrasquad game. It's kind of got that Sunday-softball-at-the-park feel to it, where every crack of the bat echoes, and every burst of chatter rings clear. ("You got 'em now, baby. C'mon, Danny.") The...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 17, 2009; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Intrasquad Lineups, Hill, Flores, Dmitri

There's no game today, so to fill the void, the Nats have an 11 a.m. intrasquad game. In other news, Microsoft Word doesn't recognize intrasquad as a proper term, and red squiggly lines are everywhere right now. Most of the...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 17, 2009; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
 
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One Option For The Staff

Since we've spent much of the last day discussing pitchers, possibilities, etc., here's one idea to consider: At least briefly, a four-man rotation. It's something both Manny Acta and pitching coach Randy St. Claire have discussed, and for several reasons,...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 17, 2009; 8:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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Wrapping Up At Roger Dean

There's plenty to say after this one, and I'm pocketing much of it for tomorrow's story. But this game, clearly, was one of the most intriguing of the spring. Almost every Nats' decision-maker made the trip to Roger Dean Stadium,...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 6:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
 
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Nationals 3, Marlins 1

Garrett Mock is on to close things off in the ninth, and if the Nats can hang on here, they've got themselves a well-played 3-1 win. Aside from two throwing errors -- one from Willie Harris, one from Alberto Gonzalez...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 3:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
 
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Hill, Zimmermann

Mid-game update. Shawn Hill felt good. Jordan Zimmermann is looking real good. (Again.) To stay current, here's the Zimmermann update first. Through 3-2/3 innings so far, he's struck out six and allowed just two hits. Gutsy stuff, too. He used...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
 
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One Scoreless IP For Hill

Shawn Hill, your starting pitcher, is already done for the day. One inning, no runs. It's a baby step, for sure, but that is what happens when you're coming off a 17-day layoff that included one Dr. James Andrews visit....

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 1:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
 
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More About The Cuts

Just a little more on the cuts Washington made this morning. None of the 11 players sent packing had a great chance at making the roster, and so their departure serves a dual purpose. It allows the cut players the...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 12:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Lineups From Roger Dean Stadium

Today's lineup Milledge - 8 Guzman - 6 Casto - 3 Kearns - 9 Patterson - 7 Pena - DH Harris - 5 Hernandez - 4 Nieves - 2 Pitcher: Hill...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 12:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Nats Make 11 Cuts

In the Space Coast Stadium clubhouse, the lockers closest to the exit belong to the young guys, those with minimal (or nonexistent) big league experience. Today, more and more of those lockers don't have nameplates at the top. The 11...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 10:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Some Thoughts On (And From) Lastings Milledge

You can read the paper version of my Milledge-Dukes story here. The DMTP stuff on this one -- especially w/r/t to Milledge -- is expansive, so maybe that's a timely fit for all the Milledge-related debate we've seen here in...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 6:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (49)
 
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More On Tavarez

OK, so we've gotten some updated information on the Julian Tavarez Status Watch front. He will not be pitching tomorrow, as I previously reported. Rather, he will pitch Tuesday during an intrasquad game. Right now, while Tavarez awaits his work...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 4:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
 
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No Comeback

Do we want a little game update action? Yessir. Because nail-biting action we've had. The Tigers took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth, and the Nats sure looked like they were about to dent that deficit, if...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 3:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Lots Of Walks, No Runs

We certainly are getting a long look at Collin Balester. Long, and labored. Through three innings this afternoon, Balester hasn't allowed a run, but not for a lack of trying to walk them in. In the half-inning that just ended,...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 2:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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The Nats' Love Don't Cost A Thing

In November, the Nationals contacted Julian Tavarez, inviting him to spring training on a non-guaranteed minor league contract. Tavarez, 35, said no. But Tavarez kept on waiting. Spring training neared, and the right-hander was still very much unemployed. After throwing...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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3-2-1... Julian Tavares

Ladies and gentlemen, Julian Tavarez is here today. Maybe Brevard County should launch some kind of commemorative display. Anyway, the fact that Tavarez has arrived at SC Stad this early is something of a surprise. Mike Rizzo had indicated on...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 10:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Lineup Vs. Tigers

Here's what we've got for this afternoon's game at Space Coast. Milledge -- 8 Guzman -- 6 Zimmerman -- DH Johnson -- 3 Willingham -- 7 Belliard -- 5 Valentin -- 2 Langerhans -- 9 Hernandez -- 4 Scheduled pitchers...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 9:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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A Departure, A Return

Well, I'm back. In the four or five days away, I lost a little of the Florida tan and gained a new appreciation for Jonny Flynn. Except during overtimes 1-6, it was a mostly relaxing breather. Two trips to the...

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 6:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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