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Dmitri, Stammen, Anderson

Dmitri Young is the story for tomorrow, I reckon, and he was happy to fill up a few notebook pages with a few one-liners, some solemn thoughts about his health/recovery, and several declarations of his readiness to play. So I'm gonna save some of this for tomorrow's print edition. But know this much: Dmitri thinks he's game-ready. Right now. And he looked the part today, going 2-for-4 with a homer.

"Definitely," he said.

Asked about the team's decision to keep him in Viera for the next few weeks, Dmitri was brief, but he said the right things.

"Whatever to help the team out," he said.

Asked if he was disappointed about the decision, he said, "No."

Asked about what he's eating these days -- well, that's when the answers started getting more expansive. Though the portions, he was sure to emphasize, have not expanded whatsoever.

*

Craig Stammen, today's starter, has actually been living this spring with John Lannan, who owns a house in Viera. The two pitchers, drafted just one round apart in the 2005 draft, were minor league teammates. Or they were, until Lannan rocketed to the big leagues. After this game, Stammen was very upfront about his goal: By season's end, he wants to be Lannan's teammate. Though he believes he'll start the year in the Class AAA Syracuse rotation, Stammen (4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) said, "My goal is to pitch in the big leagues [this year]," he said. "If I don't get that chance, I'd consider it a little disappointing."

"I'm not going to mention names," Manager Manny Acta said, "but Stammen looked better than a few guys we had in camp. And at least the command of his pitches and the repertoire he has -- guys sometimes make it to the big leagues that way. They just continue to sneak by people, they go unnoticed a little bit, and they have to earn their way at every level."

*

Anderson Hernandez, recovering from a hamstring strain, faces the big litmus test tomorrow, when he'll take some grounders back in Viera. If he fares well, he's on track to be ready for Opening Day. If he doesn't, he'll probably head to the disabled list.

"That will be the telling point whether he'll be ready for Opening Day or not," Acta said.

* Don't expect many more cuts in the next two days -- maybe one or two. The Nats roster currently stands at 36. Almost all of those players will be heading north for the two-day stretch of exhibition games in Norfolk, Va., and DC.

* Ohbytheway: Daniel Cabrera had a "successful" simulated game today. No more worries about his neck. He'll make his next (and final) exhibition start... Austin Kearns absolutely crushed a home run in the ninth inning today, blasting it down the left field line, probably about 430 feet. That's his third of the spring. According to Acta and others, he is still very much a legit candidate to be starting in right field on Opening Day.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 31, 2009; 5:05 PM ET
 
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Comments

Hey Chico any chance you could post who the 36 left are? Thanks.

Posted by: natsfan13 | March 31, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"I would expect this to be a make-or-break year for Maxwell too. He is getting too old to be a prospect and if he hasn't established himself by the end of the year the Nat's will be looking else where. Given Rizzo's love of youth/defense I think he would like to see a Milledge-Maxwell-Dukes outfield. Or maybe I just hope that will pan out.

"Posted by: soundbloke | March 31, 2009 5:11 PM "
---------------
With a Dunn move to first, and Johnson and Kearns contracts running out, that could happen. Willingham could be moved or allowed to walk. At least that outfield could run.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 31, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I can't see Johnson being back with us next year. I refuse to believe Rizzo will sign a multi-year deal with someone with Johnson's injury record, and it will take a multi-year deal to keep him. It's actually why I advocate trading him now. Dunn then goes to first, Willingham plays in the outfield unless Maxwell or Bernardina (however unlikely) prove they belong in the bigs by the end of the year.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 31, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

soundbloke has a pretty good suggestion.

Willingham also makes a good trade-deadline acquisition for a contender, if he proves his back injury was a one-time thing, it should be remembered.

Posted by: Section506 | March 31, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Assuming that they are still counting Jorge Sosa, here are the 36

http://tinyurl.com/djh7nf

Posted by: Brian_ | March 31, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

actually try this link

http://tinyurl.com/cdqpku

Posted by: Brian_ | March 31, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

@natsfan13:

Here's how the 36 stack up...
CA 3): Flores, Nieves; Bard(STI)
1B 2): NJohnson, DYoung
2B 3): Belliard, Harris, Hernandez
3B 2): Casto, RZimmerman
SS 3): Gonzalez, Guzman; Cintron(STI)
OF 5): Dukes, Dunn, Kearns, Milledge, Willingham
SP 5): Cabrera, Lannan, Martis, Olsen; JZimmermann(STI)
RP 13): Beimel, Bergmann, Hanrahan, Hinckley, Mock, Rivera, Shell, TYoung; Colome, Glover, Ledezma, Taverez, Wells (all STI).

Posted by: BinM | March 31, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Matt Chico is already on the 60-day DL, so he doesn't count against the 40-man roster; Sosa is still in the D.R., so he doesn't caount against the players in camp. (STI)= Spring Training Invitee, not on ML roster.

Posted by: BinM | March 31, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

With less than a week to the team starting the season, I wouldn't be stunned to see the following moves...

> Flores getting optioned to SYR or Extended Spring Training to get his elbow back to 100%; Keep Bard & Nieves with the big club until then.
> Ledezma grabbing a slot in the bullpen over Mock.
> Tavarez & Colome both being sent to SYR to start the season.

Posted by: BinM | March 31, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

The chance of Kearns' starting the season in RF casts a pall over the end of spring. I think I'm going to be sick.

Posted by: RickFelt | March 31, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

BinM-

Good thinking. I was looking at the current roster, and trying to think about how to keep Bard. Honestly, folks, Nieves is not a good enough defensive catcher to hold him. Bard can provide better offense, which we need badly.

The decision between Ledezma, Mock, Tavarez and Colome only interests me because I want Mock to be a success eventually, to justify the Livan trade. Chico gave us a year, but is well behind in his development now.

Casto can go, T. Young can return to Cinci's minors (no more Cincinnati players, already!). Wells, Glover, try hard and come back later.

Bergmann? C'mon folks, remember- he's one of us! He joined us on NJ, and that gives him the gold star as long as he is a viable player!

Still, all this keeps us 6 players away. Broken Cheese goes down temporarily, a good spring doesn't help Cintron, Dmitri goes down for a while, Flores on the DL. It still is bad news for Shell and one other.

It is not like everybody deserves to be in the Major Leagues, but I don't enjoy it. Heck, other teams could let people go that the Nats could take instead of who they have. I suppose options will make all the difference, and some folks will be disappointed to be out of options, yet go unclaimed on waivers.

What ever happened with Wily Mo? Did he make a decision yet? Will the Nats keep him if he doesn't get claimed?

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 31, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

"According to Acta and others, he is still very much a legit candidate to be starting in right field on Opening Day."
---------

Isn't that baseball code for: Trade Bait here! Ger yer trade bait here!

Posted by: Juan-John | March 31, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

#+1/2St:

IMO, Mock just needs a little more work on keeping the ball down in the strike zone; He can get that in SYR & come back as a swing-pitcher (Long relief, spot-starter).
I've currently got 19+ players as "locks" (barring trades)...
CA 0)- Up for grabs with injuries, etc.
1B 1)- NJohnson
2B 3)- Hernandez (14-DL possible); Belliard, Harris.
3B 1)- Zimmerman
SS 1)- Guzman, C.
OF 5)- Dukes, Dunn, Kearns, Milledge, Willingham
SP 5)- Cabrera, Lannan, Martis, Olsen, w/JZimmermann still "off-roster".
RP 3+)- Beimel, Chico (60-manDL), Hanrahan, Rivera.

That's 19 of 25, with JZimm taking the 41st slot on the 40-man. The team needs two catchers & four more RP's to start the season.
If Nieves stays as Lannan's personal catcher & subs as needed, that's o.k.
For the remainder of the bullpen, I'd go with Bergmann, Shell, Ledezma & Hinckley or Colome. Three LH in the bullpen can't be a bad thing, can it?

Posted by: BinM | March 31, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

MASN is repotying Willy Mo refused his assighnment and was given his unconditional release. Also Glover was reassighned to minor league camp.

Posted by: Baseball95der26 | March 31, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Man my spelling stinks when i type fast.

Posted by: Baseball95der26 | March 31, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

in reference to Willingham, during the chat on mlbtraderumors today, it was mentioned that he might be a good fit for the Phils.

IIRC, the trade would be Kendrick for Willingham straight up. Kyle Kendrick being a 5th starter type.

Check it out (It's at 2:18 if you don't want to read the whole thing):
http://tinyurl.com/d9kdqd

Opening Day approaches, rejoice!

Posted by: NattyDelite | March 31, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

@+1/2St:

Additionally, if a trade gets made either before (or just after) the season starts, depending on who gets swapped, Casto as a 3B/1B/LF makes good sense defensively, while Cintron could fill an offensive/defensive role off the bench as a SS/3B/2B replacement.

If Rizzo manages to pull off a trade or two before Sunday, depending on who he gets back, look for one of these two to make the opening-day roster.

Posted by: BinM | March 31, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

@BB95:

WMP: Already gone, in my mind at least. May the Yeti (or his agent) find better opportunities elsewhere (preferably in the AL West).

Posted by: BinM | March 31, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

The chance of Kearns' starting the season in RF casts a pall over the end of spring. I think I'm going to be sick.

Posted by: RickFelt | March 31, 2009 6:39 PM

-----------------------------------------------

You know it will happen because Kearns was put on earth to make us unhappy.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 31, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Instead of Kearns, how about a rightfielder who is capable of delivering 24 HR, 86 R, 86 RBI, 9 SB, and a .264 Avg while ranking as one of the best fielding outfielders int he league? Oh wait, that is Austin Kearns. I have to admit I still think he Dukes and Milledge need to start if they're on the team, but a healthy Kearns would be a strong asset on any MLB team. There is not a team in the majors that he would not improve and that includes the high profile teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers. He might not start on all of them, but he'd make the team.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 31, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

when did Kearns last put up those numbers? four years ago?

Look, I like Kearns. I've sent in my dues to NatsNut for the Kearns Fan Club, but the guy hasn't proved that he's got it back yet. IF he does, then I'm down. Right now though, Willingham has him beat by a country mile.

I wouldn't mind DFAing him, trading Willingham for a pitcher and bringing up JMax or Bernadina.

Also, for those that haven't seen, ESPN's magazine did a feature on all the teams' defense ratings. You have to be an Insider to see it online, but I can sum it up: We are looking ugly.

Posted by: NattyDelite | March 31, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Kearns put up those numbers while playing half the 2006 season in Great American Bandbox. He has 24 homers combined over the last two years. His OPS was .627 last year. To say he's capable of replicating 2006 is very very optimistic.

Posted by: tallbaby2121 | March 31, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Dmitri is like the baseball Buck Rogers -- you could put him in suspended animation for 500 years, thaw him out, give him a bat, and he'd go 2-for-4 with a homer. Okay, you'd probably have to give him a sandwich, too. He's liable to be a bit peckish after a 500 year nap.

Posted by: kevharb | March 31, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Maybe ive overlooked this in the chats, but man we really need to adress the middle of our infield. Guzman has been just atrocious in Spring training...both his hitting and defence have been awful.
Hopefully Guzman will turn things around come opening day....

Ill like to see how Anderson Hernandez performs this season, before I pass judgment. ...word

Posted by: BigCarter28 | March 31, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Instead of Kearns, how about a rightfielder who is capable of delivering 24 HR, 86 R, 86 RBI, 9 SB, and a .264 Avg while ranking as one of the best fielding outfielders int he league? Oh wait, that is Austin Kearns. I have to admit I still think he Dukes and Milledge need to start if they're on the team, but a healthy Kearns would be a strong asset on any MLB team. There is not a team in the majors that he would not improve and that includes the high profile teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers. He might not start on all of them, but he'd make the team.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 31, 2009 8:24 PM

--------------------------------------------

Bowden may have quit but nice to know he still reads the journal and posts.

Just kidding biscuits

Posted by: soundbloke | March 31, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I know I'm late, but Post of the Day:

Dmitri is like the baseball Buck Rogers -- you could put him in suspended animation for 500 years, thaw him out, give him a bat, and he'd go 2-for-4 with a homer. Okay, you'd probably have to give him a sandwich, too. He's liable to be a bit peckish after a 500 year nap.

Posted by: kevharb | March 31, 2009 10:33 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 1, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

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