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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, Balester walked three, and nearly a fourth.

With one out: He walked Ramon Santiago.

With two outs: We walked Jeff Larish and Don Kelly.

Then, he started off with a 3-0 count on Ryan Raburn before getting a looking strike, a foul, and finally, a roller to short.

There's much to interpret in Balester's outing, but without question, location has been his problem this spring. Too often, he's missed high in the strike zone -- a susceptibility in '08, too. Asked earlier this spring what he was looking for in his pitchers at the start of spring training, Manny Acta had a simple answer: "Throw strikes."

Some other observations from the early part of this game. (Score is still 0-0)

* In the first, Lastings Milledge tried to tag from second to third on a lineout by Cristian Guzman. It was quite ill-advised. Guzman's lineout represented the first out. Ryan Zimmerman was coming up. Detroit's RF, Larish, actually came in a few steps to catch the ball. Milledge was out by a few feet.

* Ronnie Belliard made a sweet bare-handed grab of a chopper in the second, making the putout 6-3.

* Team prez Stan Kasten is back in Viera after taking some time away following the death of his mother. (That has nothing to do with the game, but perhaps you're interested.)

* Gustavo Chacin is Washington's new pitcher, replacing Balester after three.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 2:01 PM ET
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Next: No Comeback


Balester seems like someone who was rushed to the majors too soon. A Jim Bowden special.

Posted by: AshburnVA | March 15, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Loving all the little tidbits, Chico. It's awesome but don't wear yourself out too early!!

Also, I think Julie's beer-goggle comments were Kippin' HUH-LARIOUS!! I'm still laughing my a** off. So incredibly candid, the insult is almost a compliment!! That was great.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 15, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

So my season tickets arrived on Thursday - and it filled me with such joy. For reason, I think this season is going to be special.

Of course, special might mean 82 wins.

Posted by: kevinx | March 15, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Also, just catching up on the previous posts, for the person who is still livid about Nats being a laughingstock, tightwad disaster I think you're just a little behind on the team.

Most of us here have been following the developments of spring for awhile, so we've had a chance to calm down.

Huge money offer to Teixeira, signing Dunn, Bowden gone, new coaching staff (Eckstein!), a young and decent looking rotation, depth and competition for positions, and some exciting spring training wins have dissolved some of the vitriol in these parts.

But if you're a rookie fan and you're only now picking up where we left off at the end of 08, you might still be harboring some resentment, which is understandable.

I don't know about the others, but I'll allow the haters some time to catch up, as long as they promise to hold fire until we've all seen the new product.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 15, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

* Team prez Stan Kasten is back in Viera after taking some time away following the death of his mother. (That has nothing to do with the game, but perhaps you're interested.)
Not wanting to make any assumptions on Stan's whereabouts, I for one am glad you threw this tidbit in there for us.

Glad Stan is back.

Chico, nobody seems to be projecting WMP on the 25 man roster. Does he go to the DL or do the Nats eat that $2 million mistake?

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 15, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I would be willing for the FO to swallow the $2M poison pill for WMP's departure. I remember being so excited for that trade, thinking that we had in essence flipped Emiliano Fruto for a cornerstone of the team.

Then again, around that time I had some stocks which I thought were the cornerstone of my portfolio. I think a little house cleaning is overdue.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 15, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm with 1/2St. on this one - Swallow the $2M & wish him well. I'd also like to see the same done with DaMeat at the end of ST, but since he isn't cotrolling a roster slot, that might not be as urgent.

Posted by: BinM | March 15, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

What is your take on the change in medical staff this year? There were a LOT of injuries last year, and a lot of "day to day" that actually should have been "DL"... Do you think the new staff is helping?

Also, was Flores injury more serious than reported? It's been "a few more days" for more than two weeks... At this rate, will he be back in full form by the season opener?

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | March 15, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, I've probably been reading this blog at least as long as you have. Just because I haven't been commenting all that time doesn't mean I'm "behind on the team." It's high time that the "dysfunctional", "tightwad owners" and "laughingstock" terminology be banished from any discussion of the team as it is today. And really, if people want to keep bringing it up in a historical context, what's the point of that? Isn't that the very definition of beating a dead horse?

So, you don't agree with me on that? I guess that makes you just another hater, huh?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 15, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. Late-inning scrubbery in effect again. Bases loaded, nobody out in the 8th. Can Lastings take advantage?


Posted by: kevincostello | March 15, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Calm down, dude - NN has been around awhile & didn't do anything to call you out personally. A lot of us get that the "Cheap Owners, Incompetent Management, & League Laughingstock" labels have been put to rest - Let's just let it play out & find real truth in it first.

Posted by: BinM | March 15, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

No, feast on, haters. Lastings has struck out.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 15, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

+1/2St. - Forgive me if I lack faith in the remaining hitters (Milledge, Bynum, Casto) to produce a rally.

Posted by: BinM | March 15, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"Ronnie Belliard made a sweet bare-handed grab of a chopper in the second, making the putout 6-3."

Chico, are you sure Belliard is playing short today? I thought he was playing third.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 15, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Kip it! - and I so wanted for Casto to make a liar out of me.

Posted by: BinM | March 15, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

After 2 strikeouts, Casto nearly hit a grand slam, but was out. Sort of like the way he will nearly make the roster, but will be out. I have to think he will probably slide down to the minors without being claimed, too.

That being the case, I guess there is no real reason to keep him on the 40-man roster anymore.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 15, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse


Well usual.


Why so snippy towards NatsNut? Is that really necessary? Why don't you kick a puppy while your at it?

Posted by: Section505203 | March 15, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

nunof1 evidently enjoys taking shots at other posters. Just ignore him.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 15, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Had a great day at the park today. Walked around Minor League camp for about 90 mins then to my seats to watch ML guys warm up.

Left in the 8th as our seats were in the sun but it is really nice to see baseball in person again.

First off the Minor League camp is really fun. Chris M, Burgess, King, Ross D, Hood...they all have names on shirts so it is really easy to get a feel for them.......First impressions later of the players......What I really got a feel for is the coaches.....Rizzo was watching pitchers.....Rick Eckstein was so accessible....he had a story about everyone's swing. He is very honest, a lot of work needs to be done....He can not be everywhere so I hope he is able to hire a whole set of instructors to work with at all levels of the organization. He has a set of terminology and if that is not carried through all levels then Nats are wasting his talent. Very impressive guy.

Lastings....what can I say...I really tried not to be just looking for negatives but they were everywhere....before the game he as Anderson H, Guz and Zim and Josh W and Nick were stretching, he was standing with his thumbs in his belt. It you could just tell someone was going to say something and sure enough Strength Coach walked up to him and got in his face.....pointed to his legs and encouraged him to do what was expected....he did a few stretches and jogged away to OF where he put his thumbs back into his belt and stood for 10 mines....During the National anthem he was the only player not to take off his doo rage hat.......Again last one out and last one in between innings but some was better......Warm up throws between innings was just amazing....Josh W was throwing BB's on a line to him and he would toss a side arm rainbow that bounced to Josh or land at his could just tell each time Josh would throw it back harder.....just amazing he does not get it at ALL.....Routs to the ball hit to him were just as bad or worse really than last year. One ball hit to Right Center Langerhans moved nicely in and made an easy play out of it....Lastings took several steps back before coming in....Next ball to Left Center could have been caught with a good jump but Milledge froze and then ran a zig zag pattern and picked it up on the second hop. Runner going around second even coxed a throw before stopping.....Lastings throw from shallow Left Center bounced so many times before it got to 3rd base it was rolling when Belliard got it..........At bat he took several pithces but also swung at some bad ball that bounced in front of the plate....not much improvement to be seen.......So I did try but to my eye on game one.....same old Lastings.....I will give him a clean slate next game.....but what Acta sees I do not know.

Oh and anyone who thinks NatsNut is negative has no clue what goes on here….

Posted by: JayBeee | March 15, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Balister needs to go to AAA and work on his curve.....he telegraphs it and it starts high and bends to belt high....Hitters are going to jump all over it.....He has a nice fastball....good change but he can not command his pitches at all......I had great seats and could see the eye contact between Acta and the catcher......after each rainbow curve the catcher looked into Acta with a look like man are you sure we want to keep calling that pitch.......I liked his stuff other than the curve and he looked good early….but he is not ready at all to be a MLB pitcher……

Posted by: JayBeee | March 15, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

nunof, it was my impression that NatsNut was agreeing with you re. the haters for the most part.

Jaybee, thanks for the thorough report and for keeping an open mind (oh, and for sticking up for NatsNut). I envy you getting to see live baseball again (can't wait until the season starts).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 15, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

With cuts coming on Monday, I wouldn't be opposed to optioning Milledge to SYR to start the season. Dukes & Bernadina are both playing better, and Maxwell is his equal in ST to-date.

Posted by: BinM | March 15, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Nice ground-level report. I'm starting to buy into your view on Millsdge, but still think that SYR might be a "wake-up" call for him, rather than a trade. Maybe not, but he's better in-pocket than not at this point, no?

Posted by: BinM | March 15, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

At this point I think you are correct....I do not think we would get a pitcher that would help right now.....SYR might just work...I never really though of that because of the Acta quotes about how much he loves Milledge and how he has improved so much....I wish I had asked Rizzo....he might just have answered me.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 15, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

off to watch the launch....I love this place!

Posted by: JayBeee | March 15, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Okay, now I'm really jealous...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 15, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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