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Nationals Journal: April 5, 2009 - April 11, 2009

A Must-Win On Sunday?

With tonight's 5-3 loss against Atlanta, the Nats are now 0-5. Only one other MLB team, the Cleveland Indians, is still winless. And the Nationals face the very real prospect of appearing 0-6 for their home opener on Monday. The...

By Chico Harlan  | April 11, 2009; 11:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Milledge's Baserunning, And Other Notes

Deadline time pressures prevented the journalistic full press last night, so these questions/answers might come a bit late. But hopefully they're still relevant to the discussion. I know on this board we've debated today Lastings Milledge's baserunning in the third...

By Chico Harlan  | April 11, 2009; 6:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (58)
 
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Nats Lineup Against Kawakami

We've got a sneak-preview at the Nats lineup for this evening's game below; I still don't have Atlanta's lineup, but Kenshin Kawakami is making his US debut. I'm sitting next to somebody from the Nippon Newspaper. Kawakami joked to Japanese...

By Chico Harlan  | April 11, 2009; 3:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Saturday's Mid-Day Reading

Shhhhh. Keep it down. We don't want to wake Chico before it's time to go to the park. Games that end at 1:25 a.m. are just about the worst for a Post writer because that's right about the witching hour...

By Tracee Hamilton  | April 11, 2009; 2:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Losing By Narrow Margins

Good (bleary-eyed) morning to you. Whoever thought the first starting pitcher in Nats camp to earn a win in 2009 would be Shawn Hill? If you dare for more depressing reading, the hastily concocted game story -- the deadline special...

By Chico Harlan  | April 11, 2009; 9:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Six Hours Later, Another Loss

The Nationals' ability to rebound will be severely tested by this one. Tonight's game ended at 1:25 a.m., with a 6-5, 10-inning loss. Joe Beimel, pitching to Atlanta's Kelly Johnson with a runner on second, allowed a liner to right....

By Chico Harlan  | April 11, 2009; 2:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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It's After 1 A.M.

Wow, we go into extra innings. It's 1:06. This has been a crazy night. Lots of squandered opportunities for the Nats; they were one out away in the ninth from botching yet another bases loaded, one-out chance. It would have...

By Chico Harlan  | April 11, 2009; 1:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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After The Rain Delay

* We had a delay of two-hours, two-minutes. That means Willie Harris's at bat (interrupted with the count 3-2) lasted about 2:03. He struck out. Later in the top of the fourth, the Nats again loaded the bases with one...

By Chico Harlan  | April 10, 2009; 10:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (63)
 
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A Signing And A Delay

[UPDATE] --10:40 start time. Also, no fireworks. [UPDATE, 10:07 p.m.] -- Still no word on a time for resuming this, but it seems clear we'll get some late-night baseball. The tarp is in the process of coming off. The rain...

By Chico Harlan  | April 10, 2009; 8:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
 
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Opening Day In Atlanta

On July 4, 1985, the Atlanta Braves played the New York Mets. Fireworks were scheduled for after the game. This was all fine, until two rain delays interrupted the action. And then, neither the Braves nor Mets could end it....

By Chico Harlan  | April 10, 2009; 7:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
 
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Lineups From Turner Field

Washington Milledge -- 8 Guzman -- 6 Zimmerman -- 5 Dunn -- 7 Johnson -- 3 Dukes -- 9 Flores -- 2 Harris -- 4 Martis -- 1 Atlanta Johnson -- 4 Escobar -- 6 C. Jones -- 5 McCann...

By Chico Harlan  | April 10, 2009; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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Mid-Morning/Rain Delay (?) Reading

Sorry I bailed on you all yesterday; I had what I thought was a migraine and finally gave up and headed to the La-Z-Boy to recuperate. But it looks like the discussion went on nicely without me. I think this...

By Tracee Hamilton  | April 10, 2009; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (104)
 
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The No. 4 and No. 5

The day begins with the future. Wait -- that sounded a bit too much like something from a campaign trail. What I meant to suggest was, the day's reading begins with stories about a pair of 22-year-olds -- Shairon Martis,...

By Chico Harlan  | April 10, 2009; 8:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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The Proximity-Optimism Theory Of Beat Writing

Toward the end of my chat today, somebody offered up a question asking, in essence, about perception. And in particular, how people in and around the Nats clubhouse -- e.g., players, beat writers -- perceived their team's chances during those...

By Chico Harlan  | April 9, 2009; 7:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Great-Uncle Roy, and Mid-Morning Reading

It's an off day, time for ruminating. My mind took a funny little wander this morning to my great-uncle Lew Roy -- Roy for short. I never knew Roy, because Roy was killed when he was a young boy, about...

By Tracee Hamilton  | April 9, 2009; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (121)
 
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Opening Pitches, Chats, Sales Pitches You Just Can't Make

At around 2 p.m. today, in Syracuse, Congressman Dan Maffei of New York's 25th district will take the mound at Alliance Bank Stadium and throw out the first pitch. Jordan Zimmermann will handle all pitching duties thereafter, as the Chiefs...

By Chico Harlan  | April 9, 2009; 7:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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A Serious Hole

Three games gone, and Washington is still looking for its first win of the year. Until that happens, only a few backhanded compliments can keep the optimism on life support. (Or is it already too late?) If you're looking for...

By Chico Harlan  | April 8, 2009; 5:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (49)
 
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Belliard, Day-To-Day With Back Injury

After I'm done filing the game story from this latest defeat (Marlins 6, Nats 4 - with plenty of drama in the ninth), I'll post a thick recap of reaction, odds and ends. But I wanted to first provide an...

By Chico Harlan  | April 8, 2009; 4:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
 
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Through Five: Marlins 5, Nats 2

Through five innings, the Nats are down 5-2. Things looked promising until the most recent half-inning, when Daniel Cabrera -- erratic (per usual) but just good enough to this point -- allowed four hits, plunked a batter, and gave up...

By Chico Harlan  | April 8, 2009; 1:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (112)
 
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Welcoming Phillies Fans to Nationals Park

Stan Kasten's comments during an interview with a Philadelphia radio station on Tuesday are generating a fair amount of reaction from Nationals fans on Dan Steinberg's D.C. Sports Bog. In the interview, Kasten encouraged Phillies fans to come to...

By Matt Vita  | April 8, 2009; 12:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (82)
 
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New Swings, New Lineups, Etc.

Austin Kearns never went back to the video and watched. For the Washington Nationals' right fielder, the home run he clobbered off Florida fireballer Leo Nunez last night was just an aw-shucks moment of good fortune. Kearns, today, called the...

By Chico Harlan  | April 8, 2009; 11:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (70)
 
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An Invitation

If you're seeking an escape from the woes of the past 40 hours or so -- and as we await Chico's first post of the day from Miami, where he has a 12:10 p.m. first pitch today -- I'd like...

By Dave Sheinin  | April 8, 2009; 9:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
 
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Reading, Lineups

Two choices for the morning. If you have a strong stomach, you can read up on yesterday's game. Thanks to Amy Shipley, here on sidebar duty, you can also read about Lastings Milledge's early-season struggles. If you're more interested in...

By Chico Harlan  | April 8, 2009; 9:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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A Few Post-Game Notes

I just filed the final game story from Washington's second game of the season -- an 8-3 accident scene that featured a lot of the same problems from the opener, carbon copied. Again the Nats were down a quick half-dozen...

By Chico Harlan  | April 7, 2009; 11:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
 
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A Release, A Good Run

For a few weeks earlier this spring, the Nationals entertained the idea of Gustavo Chacin as a candidate for their big league rotation. Turns out, the lefty cannot even crack their Class AAA rotation. As a result, the Nationals have...

By Chico Harlan  | April 7, 2009; 6:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (145)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Washington Milledge - 8 Guzman - 6 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn - 7 Johnson - 3 Kearns - 9 Belliard - 4 Flores - 2 Olsen - 1 Florida Bonifacio - 5 Maybin - 8 Ramirez - 6 Cantu -...

By Chico Harlan  | April 7, 2009; 6:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Guess Who's Back, Olsen's Back

Yesterday, the first interview conducted with Scott Olsen began at around 12:35. It lasted, oh, about six minutes. And when that one ended, another reporter approached him. Then another. Then two more. After about 25 minutes of talking, a throng...

By Chico Harlan  | April 7, 2009; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Opening Day Syndrome: Over-Thinking

For my first 10 years as a baseball beat writer, I had an annual ritual that seldom changed: I made a fool of myself by over-evaluating the results of Opening Day. Of course, in those days I was covering the...

By Thomas Boswell  | April 7, 2009; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (82)
 
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Defense Wins Championships, Loses Openers

In a way, going back to the early innings of yesterday's Opener and talking about defense is a bit like going back to a flaming car wreck and talking about stains on the upholstery. The Nationals lost yesterday for reasons...

By Chico Harlan  | April 7, 2009; 8:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (84)
 
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Dunn/Bonifacio

There is no real link between Emilio Bonifacio and Adam Dunn, other than absurdity itself. Dunn has 279 career home runs (counting one today) and a .518 slugging percentage. Also, he stole exactly one base last year. Bonifacio, meantime, had...

By Chico Harlan  | April 6, 2009; 9:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Opening Day Semi-Live Blog

6:22 p.m. -- Wait - remember that game the Nats had found themselves in? It's back to blowout mode. More bad relief pitching, more fielding woes, more Florida home runs, even more curtain calls. To start the bottom of the...

By Chico Harlan  | April 6, 2009; 4:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (267)
 
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Opening Day Lineups

First pitch is one hour away. Washington Milledge - 8 Guzman - 6 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn - 7 Johnson - 3 Kearns - 9 Belliard - 4 Flores - 2 Lannan - 1 Florida Bonifacio - 5 Baker -...

By Chico Harlan  | April 6, 2009; 3:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
 
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About The Marlins

Here are two words for Opening Day: Florida. Marlins. Here is Manny Acta's response: "Oh boy," he said. Last year, the Marlins won 14 of 17 games against the Nats. (One was rained out.) Florida outscored Washington, 106-72. The Marlins...

By Chico Harlan  | April 6, 2009; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Happy Opening Day, NJ

Two Opening Day games have already been postponed, and more could follow, I suppose. (Mets-Reds doesn't sound promising; neither does Cards-Pirates.) But the forecast for Miami at 4 p.m. today: 85 degrees, partly cloudy, windy, 59% humidity. Sunset's coming at...

By Tracee Hamilton  | April 6, 2009; 11:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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The Official 2009 Prediction Post

The Morning Reading bats leadoff this morning -- read about the season's five critical variables here; read about Ryan Zimmerman's contract situation here -- because I want to save the thick part of this post for predictions. Below, we've got...

By Chico Harlan  | April 6, 2009; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (90)
 
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Lineups, Change-ups, And 'Bitter Bob'

OK, finally, a chance to exhale! Sorry for the absenteeism today. About an hour ago, the Nats finished off their workout at Dolphin Stadium. Some notes for the cause... * The Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman are not close to striking...

By Chico Harlan  | April 5, 2009; 8:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
 
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A Few Thoughts From Zim On Contract Situation

For roughly three years, the Washington Nationals' front office has talked on-and-off with Ryan Zimmerman about a long-term contract. If no agreement is reached by tomorrow, those talks turn off for the rest of the season, allowing Zimmerman, entering 2010,...

By Chico Harlan  | April 5, 2009; 5:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Some Fun With UZRs

Over lunch today, I was leafing through SI's baseball preview issue -- reliably the thickest book of the year, with enough info to pack a DC-to-LA flight. One of the main stories, written by Albert Chen, details the next stage...

By Chico Harlan  | April 5, 2009; 3:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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The Morning Reading

Since taking the job as acting GM, Mike Rizzo has used competition as the most valuable sort of currency. He's talked about it in almost every interview. He's signed players like Josh Bard and Kip Wells, simply to add more...

By Chico Harlan  | April 5, 2009; 8:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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