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Nationals Lose in Norfolk, Head North to Washington

For those who follow spring training standings - and Friday's game in Norfolk came in a locale with neither grapefruit nor cacti - the Washington Nationals lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3.

It was a strong outing from the Orioles' Japanese import, Koji Uehara, who allowed two runs and one hit in six innings. It was a weak outing from the Nationals' Baltimore import, Daniel Cabrera, who walked five and allowed five runs in five innings.

The Nationals received a home run from third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in his closest thing to a homecoming. It was Zimmerman's fourth home run this season. Alex Cintron came in for Zimmerman and ripped a double. Watching the ninth-inning double from a clubhouse television, Adam Dunn exclaimed that Cintron can "rake."

Outfielder Lastings Milledge also hit a home run for the Nationals. Julian Tavarez struck out three Orioles in two innings of relief.

Some notes to leave you with before Saturday's rematch at Nationals Park...

- Cabrera's walks were a familiar site for Orioles fans in attendance, although he has limited them this spring. Cabrera had only three walks in 7.2 innings, but he has not pitched in a game since March 12.

"I feel good. I was out for 10 days, but I'm here, and I'm happy with what I did today," said Cabrera, unconcerned about his walks.

Manager Manny Acta admitted Cabrera was off with his control, but liked Cabrera's velocity and his ability to intersperse off-speed pitches. Acta said Cabrera was too fine with his pitches, especially when he jumped ahead in counts. Cabrera has been enigmatic throughout his career, with the potential to be a standout pitcher countered by bouts with control problems. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire has been working with Cabrera on his pace to accelerate his delivery.

"It's always been his problem, he's only 27-years old, that's why we're taking our chances with him," Acta said. "We're going live with it, and I'm sure he's going to get better."

- Acta said Kory Casto's path to the Nationals' roster was blocked with the presence of infielders Ronnie Belliard and Willie Harris. Casto was outrighted to Class-AAA Syracuse on Friday.

"The good thing about it - if you want to call it good - is he's still in our system, we still like him," Acta said. "He's just got to go down there and do his thing, and we know what we have down there."

- The Nationals are in the middle of a brutal stretch of traveling. They had three long bus trips from Tuesday-Thursday, played in Norfolk on Friday and will play in Washington on Saturday before heading back to Florida for a three-game series to open the season.

Saturday's game against in Nationals Park actually serves a purpose for the newcomers on the team who have little experience at their new home ballpark. But the primary objective is to find a way to keep the Nationals fresh for Monday, when the games start counting.

"I think we have taken every step possible," Acta said. "We didn't take our whole club to Dunedin, only our Triple AAA team, basically, and our starter, [John] Lannan. And then here, we didn't play them the whole game. And then tomorrow, what we'll do is try to keep them fresh and keep them hitting in the cages and do some ground balls. Maybe have some guys who haven't been around our field too much, like [Josh] Willingham and [Adam] Dunn, maybe take some balls and see some balls bounce off the wall. But other than that, no excuses. Just, we'll fly down to Miami, we'll have a nice day to rest after our workout and we'll go back at it."

-- Zach Berman

By Chico Harlan  |  April 3, 2009; 7:30 PM ET
 
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Next: Morning Reading [Update]

Comments

Triple A. or just AAA.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | April 3, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Zach. (Don't mind them.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

"... I'm happy with what I did today," said Cabrera, unconcerned about his walks."

... ooh! Don't think I like the sound of that.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | April 3, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

"The good thing about it - if you want to call it good - is he's still in our system, we still like him," Acta said.

Finally, in his third year, Manny has learned something: Stanspeak.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 3, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Daniel Cabrera, the Pedro Ramos of the new millenium.

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 3, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

"It's always been his problem, he's only 27-years old, that's why we're taking our chances with him," Acta said.

You'll really like the Tru-cote on his Oldsmobile, it will really help the ride.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 3, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

"It's always been his problem, he's only 27-years old, that's why we're taking our chances with him," Acta said.

You'll really like the Tru-cote on this Oldsmobile, it will really help the ride.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 3, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

For those that have read Nats320's post about today's events, you will notice that the picture of the menu lists bottled beers at $6, down from $7.50 last year. Woohoo! Hopefully if I drink more this season, it's because of the lower prices, not the team's performance...

Posted by: BGinVA | April 3, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

BGInVa: Both.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 3, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Nice catch on the pricing, BG!
Personally, I'm psyched about the choices, but I'll be even more psyched if the beers they have at one stand during one game will be there at the same stand the next game. I have no problem walking a ways for that special brew, but too many times last season I'd find the effort for naught.

I also agree with natscan's feelings on Cabrera's comments. This could be bad...

Posted by: HotNats | April 3, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Acta said Cabrera was too fine with his pitches.

Note to Saint: Tell Danny Boy to aim for the middle of the plate. Maybe he'll catch a corner.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 3, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Cintron can rake? Then why hasn't he at any time in his whole career? Am I missing something? Was Dunn referring to actually pushing leaves into piles and such?

Posted by: jcville | April 4, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

506, you didn't get nearly enough credit for that snark vs. food/fart joke post. It was a thing of beauty.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 4, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

"I expect my team to play .500 baseball," said Acta.

WHAT??????
At what point did MANAGERS start wanting less than a winning record.
Memo to Manny: How about you expect your team to win?

What a loser.

Even Zim called him out on it: "Anyone should be looking to win 90 games," Zimmerman said.

And don't give me any crap about Manny having realistic expectations. Part of his job is to convince his team they can win. You think Joe Maddon said that to his team before last season? No. They had the 9=8 slogan. They believed in themselves.

Manny expects .500.

What a loser.

Posted by: kfisher32 | April 4, 2009 1:23 AM | Report abuse

If the best we can do is have Kearns playing RF then Manny is probably right when he says this team is a 500 team. In fact with him coaching it is a 500 team at best. Why in God's name he won't play Dukes in center and Willingham in left with Dunn in right is beyond me. Just watch if Kearns plays against the Marlins. They will pitch him inside and he will hit squat. Finally we get some players and this manager will not play them. People say that Dukes could be one of the best players on the team. Well he will never realize that potential sitting on the bench. Kearns is gone after this year.

Who besides Manny says Milledge is a center fielder. No one. Even Manny's outfield coaches agree that Milledge is average at best. That plus the fact that Milledge will not take direction tells me he deserves the bench. Watch Milledge against the Marlins. He will lead off and try to hit home runs. That kid has a baseball IQ equivalent to his shoe size.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 4, 2009 2:10 AM | Report abuse

PLEASE GET RID OF CABRERA!!!!!!! What anyone sees in him is well beyond me. He will NOT win 5 games this season. And, he is in the third spot of the rotation???? That sure doesn't say much for the pitching staff or the management trying to build one.

Posted by: Pete433 | April 4, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Just getting caugth up this am. This work thing is really starting to get in the way of my NJ reading.

Welcome Boz! and Dave as well (I thought I might get a leg-up on that one).

I'm glad the Casto cleared waivers as well.

Tracee, someone from around here should warn you before this thing with JohninMpls goes any farther . . . were he ever to take you out for dinner it would probably be to Burger King!

Posted by: lowcountry | April 4, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

If they can sign the "SDSU phenom" in rather short order, the "human walk machine" should be gone by mid-August. Bad part about that is, if "Mr. .500" is still in charge and they are playing .380 baseball well then keeping the "human walk machine" on the mound was just another "StanSpeak" moment.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 4, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

News flash Manny.

Bergman is better that Cabrera. In that case we better send Bergman to AAA since he has an option. There that makes the team better. 62-100 here we come. No wait a minute we need three catchers and lets make sure we have the weakest outfield in place. Job well done Manny. Now go and sit on the bench until the 6th inning when you can bring in a reliever for a starting pitcher. We want to make sure we have worn out our bullpen by June.

It is shame we could not raid the Marlins scouting department (all former Expos people). The guys they have coming up are unbelievable. Why can't we draft guys like Stanton. Also their young pitchers are incredible. Basically the Marlins are the former Expos recreated.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 4, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Isn't there a ban on BK for JiM during the season?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Don't be knocking Burger King lowcountry. Heck, in my travels to and from Charlotte, I've stopped a couple of times at the one off the interstate in Orangeburg. As I recall, that would be your neck of the woods.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

"'I expect my team to play .500 baseball,' said Acta."

... right away, I'd say what Manny meant was not that this was his expectations of his players, but that .500 was his prediction of the results of the season - not a challenge to the guys, but a realistic view of what will likely happen.

... that said however, I am slowing changing my mind about him. I believe he was a very good choice for manager of a team at the bottom, a team scratching in the dirt to coalesce into a unit. He was calm, cool and collected; never blew a fuse and allowed things to play out and fall into place.

... but times and the Nats have changed. This is a team with promise, a team on the rise, and whether Manny is the guy to lead it up the ladder from this point remains to be seen. He very well may be, but this will be the season which opens the window on that question.

Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | April 4, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

mjames, you might have something there. I can remember back in the 90s' when the Expos were renound for there farm system. It was touted as one of the best in the bigs. Now, it all makes sense as to why the Marlins are always able to reinvent themselves.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

What is the source for the .500 comment?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

On another note, I found video on the concessions and other changes:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2009/04/03/VI2009040303252.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Don't know the source for the .500 comment either, nf1a. Would love to see it in context, though.

mjames and cokedispatch, the only thing that the Marlins' exemplary scouting staff demonstrates is the utter atrocity committed by Loria. Not only did he gut our team and farm system before he left, but he took away the scouting talent which would enable us to climb back up the mountain as well. While their farm system may be the object of some envy (like frankly many other teams' are relative to our own, especially with respect to position players), there is little that could have been done by current ownership or management to change the situation. As for specific players (like Stanton, etc.), however, that's an unrealizable dream. There are enough good players that we won't always get them all, and there are enough uncertainties when drafting an 18-22 year old that means some of the time, everybody isn't going to pick a winner. So far, our drafts have been solid, albeit not exemplary. This year, with the #1 and #10 picks, will be a true measure of the talent evaluators at the top.

Posted by: faNATic | April 4, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, faNATic, that's what I was hoping for as well.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

faNATic...I was only referring to the history of the Expos franchise long before the move to Washington was even a thought. History does show that they were a formidable club with an excellent farm system. I'm not saying the Nats won't get there, they just have a steep hill in front of them. Yes, I agree that the Expos system was ripped apart when contraction was on the table. Thats all water over the bridge now.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

nf1a...did you see any of the internet games yesterday? I'll be able to see the Nats that way today as sadly, I'm a little out of the MASN territory.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

coked: no, I ended up being a couch potato (not Idaho) in front of the tv instead. Yard work calls today and after that the exhibition game, so I'm not sure whether I'll get to it today either. Nice that they are doing it, though.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Cabrera is a waste of time if he has anything left he is too hard headed to listen.The O's gave up on him, HELLO!!! someone mentioned him in the same sentence with former Senator/Twins pitcher Pedro Ramos hey dont be insultin Pedro at least he knew how to pitch he of the many gopher balls and a knee-buckling curve.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 4, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Cabrera is major league inventory. He pitches a lot of innings, will stink most of the time but maybe be a .500 pitcher. I haven't drunk the kool aid yet on our kiddie corps of starters (or Olsen either) - even if they are as good as hoped for, they need somebody else to eat up some innings so they don't blow their arms out.

Cabrera is this team's Livan Hernandez. Heck, he even got a base hit once this spring!

Geezer

Posted by: utec | April 4, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Only when we play the Phillies if I recall correctly.
__________________
Isn't there a ban on BK for JiM during the season?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2009 8:54 AM

Posted by: lowcountry | April 4, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

You'll have to try our new Zaxby's next time. It's right down the street.
_________________________
Don't be knocking Burger King lowcountry. Heck, in my travels to and from Charlotte, I've stopped a couple of times at the one off the interstate in Orangeburg. As I recall, that would be your neck of the woods.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 8:55 AM

Posted by: lowcountry | April 4, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I like Zaxbys...we've got one here I frequent often.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

As a matter of fact low...I'll be passing that way towards the end of April as I'm going to see the Syr. Chiefs when they visit the Charlotte Knights. Just want to check up on some of the AAA boys in the sytem.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I do a too - unfortunately it is near the top of the food chain here in O'Burg. We are Much in need of a restaurant stimulus plan. But if I'm hosting the SC annex of the "Nats win the pennant party" then we'll have it at Four Moons. I suspect, however, that there are one or two choice seafood options in Beaufort as well.

Posted by: lowcountry | April 4, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Let me know . . . we might plan a Planet NJ tailgate in Charlotte. Do you think they'd let us borrow the banner?
________________
As a matter of fact low...I'll be passing that way towards the end of April as I'm going to see the Syr. Chiefs when they visit the Charlotte Knights. Just want to check up on some of the AAA boys in the sytem.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 11:01 AM |

Posted by: lowcountry | April 4, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

WOW...that would be awesome...a tailgate at an opposing teams site. Try that in Phillie.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I just checked the dates and, ironically, I will be in Syracuse that weekend. We might have to tailgate at a Riverdogs game instead.

Posted by: lowcountry | April 4, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Kearns confirmed starting in RF. All hope is lost. I can't wait for the first dugout showdown between Dukes and Acta. At least we'll have a new manager after this debacle.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 4, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"Florida Marlins catcher Josh Willingham, right, and pitcher Armando Benitez celebrate at the end of the game after the Marlins beat the New York Mets 6-5 Monday, July 19, 2004 in New York."


Why are we keeping three catchers, again?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 4, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

"Why are we keeping three catchers, again?"

Because no one has any idea what they're doing.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 4, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh good, we get DC on opening day in DC!

Posted by: 1of9000 | April 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

At least, the Nats can count on Cabrera and Olsen to eat up five innings or so a game -- before the mercy call to bullpen. I am sure the arm of Shawn Hill could not have handled that...

Posted by: fischy | April 4, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

@nova_g:
"Why are we keeping three catchers, again?"
---------------------------
Possibly for the following reasons; 1)- Bard & Nieves were in a near dead-heat statistically in ST, 2)- Nieves has been Lannan's "personal" catcher since Lannan came into the bigs, & 3)- Team Management is still not convinced that Flores' elbow is 100%.

Your game quote is 4-1/2 years old; Willingham has developed back problems since then that may preclude him being considered at Catcher.

Posted by: BinM | April 4, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

SOURCE OF THE .500 COMMENT is Bill Ladson's article titled "Kearns Favored In RF" or something to that effect at Nationals.com.

Posted by: kfisher32 | April 4, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the source, kfisher. I have to catch up with my nationals.com reading at some point.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

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