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Nationals Journal: March 22, 2009 - March 28, 2009

Nats Win, Astronauts Return, Dmitri Speaks

Oay, it's time for an epic rendition of Nats notes; we'll touch on a rocket re-entry, a fielding meltdown at shortstop, a revoked Dmitri Young silence vow, and a few debuts from some bullpen veterans. Maybe, if I remember, I'll...

By Chico Harlan  | March 28, 2009; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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St. Claire Discusses Martis, Zimm

Here's your official No. 4 and No. 5 Starter Discussion with pitching coach Randy St. Claire. Q: Is it all the more gratifying that you're not just giving out spots by default? These two really earned it. Oh, without a...

By Chico Harlan  | March 28, 2009; 2:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
 
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Boone Update

I hesitate to interrupt the flow of news from Nats Land but wanted to bring you all some good news about Aaron Boone, courtesy the Houston Chronicle, plus a couple of other tidbits. Wondering what Jose Rijo has been up...

By Tracee Hamilton  | March 28, 2009; 1:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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D. Young Added To 40-Man Roster

It was a move the Nationals had to make. It was also a move, Acting General Manager Mike Rizzo said, that they wanted to make. Honoring a handshake agreement reached earlier this winter when Jim Bowden was general manager, the...

By Chico Harlan  | March 28, 2009; 12:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
 
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Today's Lineup

Don't want this to get lost in the shuffle. Note, we get our first look at Tavarez and Beimel today. Harris -- 8 Guzman -- 6 Zimmerman -- 5 Dunn -- 7 Dukes -- 9 Johnson -- 3 Flores --...

By Chico Harlan  | March 28, 2009; 11:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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More On Martis, Zimmermann

Last summer, Jordan Zimmermann and Shairon Martis were teammates at Class AA Harrisburg. They lived on the same street with their host families. Sometimes, Zimmermann would drive Martis to the ballpark. This spring, Zimmermann and Martis again have moved forward...

By Chico Harlan  | March 28, 2009; 10:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Martis, Zimmermann Make Rotation; Pena Placed On Waivers

The Nationals this morning made a flurry of roster moves and decisions, finalizing their starting rotation, reassigning several veterans to minor league camp, and placing outfielder Wily Mo Pena on waivers. Here's the skeletal breakdown: * Washington named Shairon Martis...

By Chico Harlan  | March 28, 2009; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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The Mets Feel Like The Mets

Especially early in the year, John Lannan will have a lot of showdowns like this, drawing the opposing team's ace. Friday night, in Washington's 4-1 exhibition loss against the Mets at Traditional Field, Lannan met a fellow Opening Day starter...

By Chico Harlan  | March 27, 2009; 9:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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In The Fifth: Mets 2, Nats 1

[UPDATE, 8:44 p.m.] -- Wow, this game is rolling. Since we last talked, Santana struck out the side in the sixth. Then he retired the side in the seventh on seven pitches. He's retired 10 in a row. It looks...

By Chico Harlan  | March 27, 2009; 8:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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The Outfield Squeeze

Today, it's pretty simple. Josh Willingham is starting in left, batting third. Austin Kearns is starting in right, batting fourth. None of the qualified corner outfielders is on the bench. Elijah Dukes and Adam Dunn didn't make the trip down...

By Chico Harlan  | March 27, 2009; 7:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Lineups Versus Mets

Here's your lineup for tonight at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. Johan Santana starts for the Mets. Milledge - 8 Belliard - 4 Willingham - 7 Kearns - 9 Bard - 2 Castillo - 5 Casto - 3 Gonzalez...

By Chico Harlan  | March 27, 2009; 5:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Hernandez Thinks He'll Be Ready By Opening Day

Second baseman Anderson Hernandez, dealing with a left hamstring strain, said today that he believes he can recover in time for Opening Day. Hernandez injured his hamstring in an exhibition game Wednesday night while running down the first base line....

By Chico Harlan  | March 27, 2009; 4:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Box Scores: What Do You Think?

I'd like to get your thoughts on something. Our baseball boxes in the print edition are changing width, which means we are going to have to take some things out. Let me stop right here and say this does NOT...

By Tracee Hamilton  | March 27, 2009; 1:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (66)
 
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The Roster Puzzle's Final Pieces

The latest batch of cuts is coming today, but don't expect all that much clarity... yet. That said, a lot of the questions concerning the roster are concentrated toward the bottom of the depth chart; already, we have a pretty...

By Chico Harlan  | March 27, 2009; 10:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (77)
 
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Morning Reading

What with the off day and the special section copy to file, Chico had one story in today's print edition; there's a little bit here that didn't make Nats Journal. Chico will have a new blog post up in the...

By Tracee Hamilton  | March 27, 2009; 9:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Nats Intend To Add Dmitri Young To 40-Man Roster

The Nationals intend to add Dmitri Young to the 40-man roster before Opening Day because of a handshake agreement that was made this winter between Young and then-General Manager Jim Bowden. Though Bowden resigned almost four weeks ago and Young,...

By Chico Harlan  | March 26, 2009; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (92)
 
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Zimmermann: Dominance On Field No. 3

I don't want to make the mistake of waxing all poetic about a pitching performance that happened on a minor league field today against a lineup of guys like Chris Barnwell and Mark Saccomanno and Tommy Manzella. That said, I'm...

By Chico Harlan  | March 26, 2009; 3:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Closer to Home...

... Two things I forgot to mention earlier: We've mentioned Bill Nye the Science Guy as a Nats fan before, but Dan Steinberg has talked to him about it. Don't forget Thomas Boswell's baseball chat at noon. And thanks to...

By Tracee Hamilton  | March 26, 2009; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
 
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Mid-Morning Reading

I believe it was Tony Soprano who said, "I think it's time for you to start to seriously consider salads." That advice was for Bobby Baccalieri, but it could be the same for Oliver Perez. The Mets are in a...

By Tracee Hamilton  | March 26, 2009; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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An Off Day -- For Many

You won't see many players around the Nats' spring training complex today. The team has its final off day of the spring, so it's a good day for the guys coming north with the team to get their belongings in...

By Chico Harlan  | March 26, 2009; 8:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Hamstring Injury For Hernandez [UPDATED]

Last time Anderson Hernandez had the chance to be a starting second baseman, it was 2006. He was with the Mets at the time. He held the job for all of two weeks. Batting .146 on April 17 of that...

By Chico Harlan  | March 25, 2009; 10:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Hernandez Leaves Game With Injury

[UPDATE, 9:12 p.m.] -- Just got the latest word on the injury. Hernandez has a left hamstring strain. He will be reevaluated tomorrow. In game news: Another RBI single from Nick Johnson. Nats are up 5-3 in the bottom of...

By Chico Harlan  | March 25, 2009; 8:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Fourth Inning: Braves 2, Nats 0

[UPDATE]: Here in the fifth, Wily Mo Pena is pinch-hitting for Balester. His pitch count is only 55, but the team wants to save space for its relievers to get some work. (Balester was on an 85-pitch limit today.) Wells,...

By Chico Harlan  | March 25, 2009; 7:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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A New Kind Of Intensity

Numerous pre-game notes here, and -- what do you know? -- we've got about 15 media members in press box for the occasion. What explains the excitement? Adam Dunn's return to the lineup? Chipper Jones' trip to HSCS? No and...

By Chico Harlan  | March 25, 2009; 5:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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Tonight's Lineups From HSCS

We've got a night game against the Braves tonight, and for this one, the Nats have their white unis ready and a lineup that very closely resembles that Opening Day model. (Or the most likely one.) Only difference: The catcher...

By Chico Harlan  | March 25, 2009; 2:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (58)
 
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Mid-Morning Reading

I'm not sure what to think about this, but apparently the Expos were penalized millions for not putting any money back into "employee training." (That's a fat one right over the plate, folks; start swinging.) This guy loves him some...

By Tracee Hamilton  | March 25, 2009; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
 
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The Arbitration Clock, & What it Means for the Rotation

Mike Rizzo has said that the Nats are "totally comfortable" with the in-house candidates for the fourth and fifth starters' jobs, and perhaps that is to be expected. The trade game is about leverage, hiding one's concerns, etc, and desperate...

By Chico Harlan  | March 25, 2009; 8:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (63)
 
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Martis = Number Four Starter?

If the Nationals were leaning towards naming right-hander Shairon Martis their fourth starter -- and I believe they were -- today's start may have sealed the deal: Six innings, three hits (one of them an infield hit), no runs, one...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 24, 2009; 2:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (94)
 
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Martis Through Three: 9 Up, 9 Down*

Added the asterisk there because Shairon Martis has allowed one baserunner through the first three innings, but it was a mere infield single to Adam Jones in the first, and Martis promptly picked him off. Otherwise, Martis has been perfect,...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 24, 2009; 1:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Why Today's Game Still Matters

As Chico pointed out in an earlier post, the Nationals sent a skeleton crew of players down I-95 to Fort Lauderdale Stadium for today's tilt against the Orioles. While Chico has Adam Dunn working out and Daniel Cabrera pitching in...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 24, 2009; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Kasten Chat At 11 AM

For a game against the Orioles, the Nats are down in Fort Lauderdale today. Or at least a few of them are. The team took its Nats Lite lineup down I-95 today, leaving them with Kory Casto and Wily Mo...

By Chico Harlan  | March 24, 2009; 9:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (63)
 
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What The Track Nats Lack

My story this morning attempts to anatomize a simple play from Sunday's game, when leadoff man Lastings Milledge stole second in the first inning. In a broader sense, the story examines basestealing -- and Washington's (e.g., Manny Acta's) approach to...

By Chico Harlan  | March 24, 2009; 6:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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Boswell: Stephen Strasburg a Risky Top Pick

Boz has written a column on the merits of selecting pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg with the top pick in the draft. You can read it right here....

By Matt Vita  | March 23, 2009; 4:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Olsen And Bard

Before today, Scott Olsen and Josh Bard knew of one another only as opponents. Bard had faced Olsen three times, getting one hit. That was back when Bard was a Padre, and Olsen was a Marlin. Today, in the Nats'...

By Chico Harlan  | March 23, 2009; 4:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Tied At 2 In The Sixth

[UPDATE, 2:51 p.m.] - Before this game, Manny Acta had some kind words for borderline bullpen candidate Gary Glover. "We brought him over here to camp aware of his track record," Acta said. "He's been around and pitched the eighth...

By Chico Harlan  | March 23, 2009; 2:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
 
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Shawn Hill Signs With Padres (And Other Notes)

* Let's start things off with news about Shawn Hill. The right-hander, released by the Nationals on Wednesday, has just signed with the San Diego Padres. It's a non-guaranteed minor league deal, Hill said. * Adam Dunn and Joel Hanrahan...

By Chico Harlan  | March 23, 2009; 1:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Lineup Versus Cardinals

From Roger Dean Stadium, here in Jupiter Milledge - 8 Guzman - 6 Johnson - 3 Kearns - 9 Patterson - 7 Castillo - 5 Bard - 2 Harris - 4 Olsen - 1...

By Chico Harlan  | March 23, 2009; 11:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Three Competitors, One Spot

Attitude lessons from Wil Nieves: Twice, I interviewed him yesterday. Once in the morning, one-on-one. Later, in the afternoon, with a small group of others. Both times, the conversations went in a similar direction -- basically, What is it like...

By Chico Harlan  | March 23, 2009; 6:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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An Apology

I owe an apology, because I said something stupid. Really stupid. I regret it tremendously. This is certainly not the first time I've felt terrible or stupid, but it is my first time writing about these feelings on a baseball...

By Chico Harlan  | March 22, 2009; 7:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (101)
 
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Kasten On "Silly" Strasburg Speculation

Nationals President Stan Kasten today addressed what he called "silly media hype" surrounding the speculative contract demands of prospective No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg. Though he was dismissive of reports that Strasburg and agent Scott Boras might seek...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 22, 2009; 4:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Nats Lose 1-0 (And Other Notes)

First, you gotta know how this one ended. The Nats headed into the bottom of the ninth today tied 0-0 with the Astros -- who, at that moment, had a 3-16-3 Grapefruit League record. Zech Zinicola, an import from minor...

By Chico Harlan  | March 22, 2009; 4:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Eighth Inning, Still Scoreless

We have a little rain here and no runs. In the last inning, some gray clouds rolled over Osceola County Stadium, but the Kissimmee faithful aren't going anywhere. (Well, at least they're not leaving; many have scattered to the upper...

By Chico Harlan  | March 22, 2009; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Milledge Gets The Top Spot

Lastings Milledge likes the idea of batting first. He'll face pitchers reluctant to walk him. He can get on base, steal second, and wait for a ride home from Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Dunn. "I'm going to be...

By Chico Harlan  | March 22, 2009; 1:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
 
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Strasburg Watch: A Monumental Battle Takes Shape

If Peter Gammons is correct -- that agent Scott Boras is floating the notion of a six-year, $50 million contract for probable No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg -- it could touch off a monumental negotiating battle that pits...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 22, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Today's Lineup Vs. Astros

Milledge -- 8 Harris -- 7 Zimmerman -- 5 Dukes -- 9 Casto -- 3 Valentin -- 2 Hernandez -- 4 Gonzalez -- 6 Lannan -- 1...

By Chico Harlan  | March 22, 2009; 12:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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The Road To Kissimmee, The Road Back

Within the next few days, the mileage ticker on the rental Mazda is gonna get a serious workout. Washington still has 13 exhibition games remaining. Only three are in Viera. That's caused some grumbling among players -- especially the swing...

By Chico Harlan  | March 22, 2009; 7:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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