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Kearns In Right Field, And Other Assorted Nuggets

Though the Nationals still have not announced it, because the players involved had not been informed of the decision as of an hour before tonight's game, team officials are saying privately that Austin Kearns will be the starting right fielder. Everything, of course, is fluid -- because Kearns won't be playing every day, because Elijah Dukes will also see some time in center field, because Josh Willingham must also get at-bats, because a trade is always a possibility, and because players get hurt. But for now, it appears Kearns won the job with an impressive spring, aided in part by his work with new hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

We'll have more on this after the game, as I expect Manny Acta to address the situation then.

In the meantime, in rapid-fire style, here are some other items of interest:

*The instincts of some commenters on a previous thread are correct: Jason Bergmann was largely a victim of the fact he had a minor league option remaining. Acting general manager Mike Rizzo said Bergmann has a few things to work on at Class AAA, primarily throwing more first-pitch strikes.

*This is interesting: Garrett Mock will go to Syracuse not to start games -- but to close them. "We're grooming him as a closer," Rizzo said.

*The Nationals probably will only carry three catchers until Jordan Zimmermann is activated to join the rotation on April 19.

*The decision to go with three lefties in the bullpen was partly due to the way Wil Ledezma and Mike Hinckley pitched, but also because of the sheer number of top left-handed hitters in the NL East (plus switch hitters, such as Chipper Jones, who are less effective from the right side).

*Acta on Ledezma: "He's got a power arm from the left side. We can see why he keeps getting chances. I hope this will be a long stop for him, that he can just take off. Because we don't see him only as a situation lefty. He can go out there and overpower right-handers too. This guy throws 93, 94 [mph] and he was able to tighten up that breaking ball with [pitching coach Randy St. Claire]. So we're looking forward for this guy to settle down here and stop bouncing around."

*Your Syracuse rotation: Jordan Zimmermann (until joining the Nationals on April 19), Collin Balester, Kip Wells, Mike O'Connor and Craig Stammen.

*Ryan Zimmerman says his deadline of Monday for a contract extension is "pretty firm," though he jokingly told me he might give the sides until 4:11 p.m. -- one minute past first pitch -- if it looked as if they were close to a deal. But according to Rizzo, the sides are having "daily" conversations.

*Adam Dunn says he knows how many at-bats it takes to get him ready for season, and acknowledges he is "cutting it close" this spring, because of his participation in the World Baseball Classic. "But the last three days, I've felt great," he said.

*John Lannan said he worked through some issues during a bullpen session yesterday, and expects Monday's Opening Day start to be much better than his last Grapefruit League start in Dunedin, Fla.

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 4, 2009; 5:24 PM ET
 
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Comments

The instincts of some commenters on a previous thread are correct: Jason Bergmann was largely a victim of the fact he had a minor league option remaining. General manager Mike Rizzo said Bergmann has a few things to work on at Class AAA, primarily throwing more first-pitch strikes.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Glad to hear Bergy has an option.

I still don't agree with Dukes not getting the starting RF job. Kearns may have had a slightly better ST, but look around the league and see how many '08 starters would be sitting based on a so-so ST.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 4, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

No way kearns should be starting over dukes. I'm sure the contract has nothing to do with it...grrrrrrrrrr

Posted by: WrongDog | April 4, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

The shoulder is better.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 4, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

salami

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 4, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait to see beautiful Nationals Park again!! GOO NATS!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 4, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

"look around the league and see how many '08 starters would be sitting based on a so-so ST."

How many of them were competing with other '08 starters who had markedly better STs than they did?

And let's be clear. Dukes didn't have a so-so ST. He had a godawful ST. Struck out nearly half the time, and he was no Adam Dunn in his other ABs. Kearns OTOH had a very good spring.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 4, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Poop! I thought the game was at 7!!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 4, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Willy for RF!!!!

Posted by: Brue | April 4, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Cherry blossoms, blue skies and baseball in D.C. Life is good -- especially after 33 Springs with no baseball. Can't wait for Opening Day against the Sillies.

Posted by: UnionStation | April 4, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

The gameday page on MLB.com is really cool. It's got everything, including what pitch a certain player likes to face, or hates to face. Awesome!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 4, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

"*The decision to go with three lefties in the bullpen was partly due to the way Wil Ledezma and Mike Hinckley pitched, but also because of the sheer number of top left-handed hitters in the NL East (plus switch hitters, such as Chipper Jones, who are less effective from the right side)."

Dibble went on and on about Boni hitting better from the right side. No. No. No. Get it right nest time? He is "less effective from the right side."!!!!!!!!

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 4, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Hard to believe Milledge is 0-3. What a shock.

Trade him.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 4, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Kearns was the right choice. He's healthy, had a great Spring and he's a hard-working old school-type player. He knows he's a mediocre season away from a journeyman extra outfielder role so expect him to have a very good year. Dukes will be fine and will get some good playing time.

Posted by: bulldog11 | April 4, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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