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Nationals Journal: April 19, 2009 - April 25, 2009

Reaction From The Latest Loss

Washington's 8-2 loss today had the feel of one of those test-your-tolerance games. As in, How much more can you take? The Nats made three more errors, yielded four unearned runs, committed one baserunning gaffe, and saw their starting pitcher...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 25, 2009; 5:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (55)
 
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Ugly, Ugly, Ugly

We're one-third done with this one, at least as far as innings go, and if you're looking for further drama this afternoon, keep an eye on this question: Will the Nationals mount a campaign to play the ugliest game in...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 25, 2009; 2:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Johnson, Hernandez, Mets Lineup

Because he'd missed roughly 90 percent of the previous two seasons with injuries, Nick Johnson, entering 2009, was planning to resume life as an everyday player with caution. Manager Manny Acta spoke about the importance of resting his first baseman,...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 25, 2009; 1:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
 
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A Few Promising Things

The Nationals today play their 16th game of the year, which means the season has reached (egads) roughly the one-tenth pole. Now I'm not enough of a horse racing junkie to know if the one-tenth pole even exists -- perhaps...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 25, 2009; 11:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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Today's Lineup From Citi Field

(We don't have the Mets' yet; I'll post that once I get it.) Hernandez -- 4 Johnson -- 3 Zimmerman -- 5 Dunn -- 9 Dukes -- 8 Willingham -- 7 Gonzalez -- 6 Nieves -- 2 Cabrera -- 1...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 25, 2009; 10:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Final Score From Citi Field: Mets 4, Nats 3

Just a few exit notes from Citi Field, where the Nats (now 3-12) lost to the Mets. * New York starter Johan Santana went from dominant to good tonight, but never did he look all that vulnerable -- at least...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 24, 2009; 11:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Exploring Citi Field And The Pedro Possibility

Cavernous and opulent, with that new carpet smell in the clubhouse and an angular outfield wall that bends like the northern border of Kentucky, New York's Citi Field offered its latest visitors -- the Washington Nationals -- plenty to explore...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 24, 2009; 6:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (73)
 
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Lineups From Citi Field

Washington Hernandez - 4 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn - 7 Dukes - 8 Kearns - 9 Flores - 2 Gonzalez - 6 Olsen - 1 New York Reyes - 6 Castillo - 4 Beltran - 8 Delgado...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 24, 2009; 5:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Phillies, Mets Have Rotation Woes

ERAs of the NL East rotations: Braves: 3.27 Marlins: 4.28 Nats: 5.18 Mets: 5.77 Phils: 7.08! The breakdowns on the Phils and Mets are scary. For them. Phils: Brett Myers (5.03), Jamie Moyer (6.35), Joe Blanton (7.31), Cole Hamels (9.69),...

By Thomas Boswell  |  April 24, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (49)
 
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A Vote For Pedro

The news of the Nationals' "mild" interest in free agent pitcher Pedro Martinez coincides nicely with the release of Forbes's annual MLB franchise valuations issue. You saw that, right? The headline: The Nationals were one of 10 teams that declined...

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 24, 2009; 12:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (67)
 
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Friday Mid-Day Reading

Quick hit today; I think we'll be hearing from Dave and Chico soon. Mets Manager Jerry Manuel apparently feels about his starters what Manny Acta was feeling about his bullpen last Sunday: not good. The latest to stumble -- the...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  April 24, 2009; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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How High Can An Average Jump?

Though today's fishwrap story examines Adam Dunn's batting eye and his approach at the plate, it also makes mention of his desire to hit.300 this year. Others, including Manager Manny Acta, believe he can do it. They talk about his...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 24, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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Frank Robinson: Special Asst. to the Commissioner

Former Nats Manager Frank Robinson has been appointed Special Assistant to the Commissioner. "Besides being one of the greatest players to ever play the game, Frank has served the game admirably in many different capacities," said Commissioner Bud Selig in...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  April 23, 2009; 4:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (72)
 
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Poll: How Will the Nats Fare on This Trip?

Something to while away the lonely hours until Chico reaches Gotham City. poll by twiigs.com...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  April 23, 2009; 3:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Thursday Afternoon Reading

Lots of daughters on the train this morning. Only saw one son. Any "Arrested Development" fans out there? You'll know what I mean. One more reminder about the Tom Boswell chat at 2 p.m. Chico's heading up I-95 to NYC,...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  April 23, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
 
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The Minor League Report Returns

When we spoke yesterday, Nats PR man Bill Gluvna admitted that this week's minor league report didn't exactly have the best puns. But hey, that's understandable. It's like movie releases with respect to the Academy Awards. Sometimes, it's all about...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 23, 2009; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
 
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Good News, More Good News

Lots to talk about on this off-day, but I wanted to start the morning on a happier note. First, Thomas Boswell will chat at 2 p.m. today. More good news: Our own Lena Sun reports that the District has done...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  April 23, 2009; 8:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
 
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Nationals Close Out Home Stand With 1-0 Loss

There were several reasons Washington could not complete a sweep of the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night, though none of them had anything to do with the starting pitcher. The pitching and defense in the ninth inning were suspect, sure....

By Steve Yanda  |  April 22, 2009; 11:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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Statement From Majestic

Hey all, the score is tied 0-0 through two innings under clear blue skies (a welcomed change from recent evenings) at Nationals Park, and while John Lannan warms up to pitch the next frame, here's some brief reading material. Below...

By Steve Yanda  |  April 22, 2009; 7:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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As They Go For The Sweep...

Just a few pre-game notes here... You'll notice a new middle infield combo tonight. Alex Cintron is at SS; Ronnie Belliard is at 2B. Both moves are pretty self-explanatory -- Manny Acta just wants to get some at bats for...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 22, 2009; 6:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Third Time Through Rotation: 2.67 ERA

Every team's issues change several times within any season. For example, the Nats are now trying to patch together a bullpen with Joe Beimel on the DL and survive the exploits of Alberto Gonzalez (five errors in six games at...

By Thomas Boswell  |  April 22, 2009; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Atlanta Johnson - 4 Escobar - 6 Jones - 5 McCann - 2 Francoeur - 9 Diaz - 7 Kotchman - 3 Schafer - 2 8 Jurrjens - 1 Washington Cintron - 6 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 22, 2009; 3:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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A Scout's Take on Zimmermann, Nats

Just got off the phone with a scout for a National League team who was on hand Monday night for Jordan Zimmermann's long-awaited big league debut for the Nationals, and thought his impressions of the kid would interest some folks...

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 22, 2009; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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Laughing About Good Luck

After the final erroneous, fortuitous pitch last night, Manny Acta started his news conference by saying, "This is the best game ever." He wasn't talking about the 4-3 win. He was just talking about baseball itself -- more a...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 22, 2009; 11:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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What Hanrahan Needs is a Good 'Stache

Speaking of Joel Hanrahan ... please take a look at Dave Sheinin's list, which this week deals with closers' facial hair....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  April 22, 2009; 10:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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It Ended The Right Way... With The Wrong Pitch

Joel Hanrahan didn't combust tonight. He came close -- as close as possible -- but he came away with a save, some restored confidence, and even a good story about a pitch he threw against his better judgment. Let's recap....

By Chico Harlan  |  April 22, 2009; 12:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (78)
 
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The Rain Goes Away, Saul Comes Back, Etc.

[UPDATE, 7:24 p.m.] -- Wait, I spoke too soon. (Darned hexes!) Now the scoreboard here at Nats Park warns of a second weather system that will be coming through. For the moment, the tarp is back on. Word from the...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 21, 2009; 7:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (84)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Atlanta Johnson - 4 Escobar - 6 Jones - 5 McCann - 2 Kotchman - 3 Francoeur - 9 Diaz - 7 Schafer - 8 Kawakami - 1 Washington Hernandez - 4 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn -...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 21, 2009; 4:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
 
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Beimel to DL; Rivera Recalled

The latest injury for the Nationals further strains the one component of the club that can least afford it. The Nationals this afternoon placed eighth inning specialist Joe Beimel, their most reliable reliever, on the 15-day disabled list. Beimel strained...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 21, 2009; 3:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (54)
 
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Deals, Debuts, Delays -- And Dukes

The story of Elijah Dukes' tardiness on Saturday at Nationals Park seemed, at first glance, pretty straightforward. Dukes was late for work; he was punished; end of story. Well, it turned out that Dukes was actually five minutes late... because...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 21, 2009; 7:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (209)
 
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Another Rain Delay... And A Late Night

Jordan Zimmermann's debut is finished. His first big league win is hanging in the balance... and we'll be waiting to see what happens. At 11:16 -- with two outs in the top of the eighth, and the Nats leading 3-2...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 20, 2009; 11:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (64)
 
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Zimmermann, Scoreless Through Three

Well, we waited long enough to see him; now, Jordan Zimmermann is making his way quickly through the Atlanta lineup. Through three innings, the Washington rookie has yet to allow a run, despite four hits. The good news: The kid...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 20, 2009; 9:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (66)
 
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Still Waiting [UPDATED]

[UPDATE, 8:51 p.m.] -- The scheduled start time is now 9:15 p.m. --- Since we've been sitting here, the rain has not exceeded a mist. The folks here at Nationals Park are not awaiting the passing of a rain system;...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 20, 2009; 7:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
 
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Rain Delay At Nats Park

For the moment, the Jordan Zimmermann unveiling will have to wait. We're in an official rain delay; the tarp is on the field. There is no word on when -- or whether -- this game will start. Right now, the...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 20, 2009; 7:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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The Zimmerman Deal, In Detail

I'm saving some of the behind-the-scenes negotiating stuff for a print (and Web) article, but here's a sketch of the basics from Ryan Zimmerman's five-year, $45 million contract, officially announced today. * Zimmerman's contract begins this year, allowing him to...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 20, 2009; 5:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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A Press Conference, Tonight's Lineups

Media members around town received an ambiguous e-mail from the Nationals. Hmmm... It describes some sort of press conference announcing the "modified contract status of [a] signature National." Any guesses? Check it out at 4 p.m.; MASN will televise. If...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 20, 2009; 3:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (54)
 
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Some Monday Morning Thoughts

What we are seeing here is the impact of Mike Rizzo and Stan Kasten making decisions. And a lot of them. With Jim Bowden gone. The collective wisdom of baseball humanity claims that this should be a significant improvement. Just...

By Tom Boswell  |  April 20, 2009; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (107)
 
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One Day, A Lot Of Surprises

Somehow, baseball always finds a way to surprise you. I learned this last year, inexorably, on May 21. On that particular day, the undermanned, under-talented, injury-decimated Nationals were 6 1/2 games out of first place. (How's that for perspective?) Jim...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 20, 2009; 8:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
 
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Zimmerman, Nationals Agree To Five-Year, $45 Million Deal

Until at least 2013, Ryan Zimmerman will play for the Washington Nationals -- the team that drafted him, and the team that has now affirmed his role in its future. Zimmerman and the Nationals have agreed to a five-year, $45...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 19, 2009; 8:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
 
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The Bullpen Gets Blown Up

After today's loss, Manny Acta came into the manager's interview room. He was seething. He sat down and said, "I think it's embarrassing. I think it's unacceptable. I think our fans have every right to be mad, like we are...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 19, 2009; 7:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (69)
 
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Another Blown Save, Another Loss

Oh boy. Right now at Nats Park, the announced crowd (16,974) is heading posthaste to the parking lots; there's just some windblown garbage floating through the air, and a sad baseball team heading to the clubhouse. The Nats just lost...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 19, 2009; 5:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (80)
 
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Entering The Fifth: Nats 2, Marlins 1

The Nationals lead right now, 2-1. (Through four innings.) They should be leading by more. Which is the reason their lead feels so precarious. Though the Nats scored twice in the first thanks to some station-to-station singles from the middle...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 19, 2009; 2:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (86)
 
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Bernadina, Maxwell, Manny

Less than a week ago, Roger Bernadina and Justin Maxwell were roommates in Syracuse and Class AAA teammates. Given the Washington Nationals' outfield depth, both figured they'd stay there for a while. Only a series of strange breaks, both literal...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 19, 2009; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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Today's Lineups (*)

(* barring injuries, tardiness, and other means of interference) I'll have the full dose of pre-game notes after the Nats finish up their morning BP. Florida Bonifacio - 5 Baker - 2 Ramirez - 6 Gload - 3 Uggla -...

By Chico Harlan  |  April 19, 2009; 11:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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