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Nationals Journal: May 17, 2009 - May 23, 2009

An Infirmary Report

OK, let's start with some injury updates. Don't worry; we aren't bringing back the medical glory days of '08, when the daily DL news read like something longer than "Crime and Punishment." This'll be quick. And mostly encouraging. Elijah Dukes,...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 23, 2009; 7:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Baltimore Roberts - 4 Jones - 8 Markakis - 9 Mora - 5 Wigginton - 3 Reimold - 7 Zaun - 2 Izturis - 6 Uehara - 1 Washington Guzman - 6 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn -...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 23, 2009; 3:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Early Returns On A Green Rotation

Going back five days -- or one turn through the rotation -- the Nats have used starting pitchers who are 23, 22, 24, 25 and 22. Four are rookies. The oldest was making his major league debut. Between them, they...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 23, 2009; 9:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Relievers As Hitters

The Nationals, by now, are familiar with bizarre losses. But losses where the game-winning run is scored by a 31-year-old AL relief pitcher who hasn't batted in almost three years...? Well, that is what happened in tonight's 4-2 loss to...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 22, 2009; 11:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Flores, Crow, Willingham

Within a few days -- perhaps by Monday -- Jesus Flores, out since May 9 with a right shoulder contusion, will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment. Already, the Nats' everyday catcher is feeling better. Today, he took batting practice....

By Chico Harlan  |  May 22, 2009; 7:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Baltimore Roberts - 4 Jones - 8 Markakis - 9 Huff - 3 Mora - 5 Reimold - 7 Moeller - 2 Izturis - 6 Hill - 1 Washington Guzman - 6 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn -...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 22, 2009; 3:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (62)
 
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Zimmerman vs. Markakis, Straight Up

Tonight at Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles renew their rivalry. Feel that buzz starting to build around the region? Me neither. It's hard to get too juiced about two last-place teams that are a combined 25 games...

By Dave Sheinin  |  May 22, 2009; 10:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (114)
 
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Morning Reading

I'll start here by throwing out a few links, because there's plenty of good stuff to discuss today. The O's are coming to town. (Do we care more? Is this a rivalry series -- as those responsible for selling tickets...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 22, 2009; 9:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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A Strong Start, A Strong Fastball

Plenty to talk about after tonight's 5-4 Nats win against Pittsburgh. Joel Hanrahan got a dramatic save. The Nats got a much-needed break from all the losing. The clubhouse stereo even got some long-awaited post-game usage. (It had been weeks...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 21, 2009; 11:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Stammen Starts Strong

[UPDATE, 9:00 p.m.] -- Hernandez left tonight's game with a sprained pinky finger on his right hand. --- Two notes from the early portion of this game. Washington starter Craig Stammen, in his big league debut, has been dazzling. He...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 21, 2009; 8:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (58)
 
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No Yelling And Screaming, But --

Today, some 3-1/2 hours before the first pitch, Manny Acta called his team together and closed the clubhouse doors. Generally, the Washington Nationals' third-year manager holds little regard for such formalities: "You can speak and talk as much as you...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 21, 2009; 7:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Pittsburgh Morgan - 7 Sanchez - 4 McLouth - 8 Ad. LaRoche - 3 Moss - 9 An. LaRoche - 5 Jaramillo - 2 Wilson - 8 Snell - 1 Washington Guzman - 6 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 21, 2009; 4:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Nats Minor League Report

Here is Bill Gluvna's weekly MLR, which gives us at least one reason to be thankful that Tyler Clippard is still in the minors. --- NATIONALS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT This Week's Top Headline NOTHING MINOR ABOUT THESE ACCOLADES: Hagerstown Suns...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 21, 2009; 3:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Fielding Problems -- Part 43 In An Ongoing Series

Count this among the obvious lessons learned the hard way last night: Adam Dunn, Manny Acta said after this latest loss, "is not Torii Hunter." Anybody care to argue that one? Dunn, to be fair, has had a terrific offensive...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 21, 2009; 9:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (169)
 
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Some Thoughts On Sliders In The Dirt

After tonight's game, a 2-1 loss to the Pirates, the Nats optioned reliever Garrett Mock to Class AAA Syracuse. This reduces their bullpen to a mere eight members, which will be its standard operating size going forward. Mock wasn't too...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 21, 2009; 12:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (50)
 
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Strasburg's Injury Not Serious

A few posters on a previous post spoke of a possible injury to San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the presumptive No. 1 pick on June 9, who started tonight for the Aztecs in the Mountain West Tournament. I just...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 20, 2009; 7:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
 
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More On Cabrera, Stammen (With Q&As)

Unwilling to tolerate one extreme -- the unmatched ineffectiveness of starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera -- the Washington Nationals today moved toward another extreme, committing to a starting rotation of uninterrupted youth. The Nationals banished Cabrera to the bullpen, where he...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 20, 2009; 7:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Cabrera To 'Pen; Stammen To Start Tomorrow

I'll have much more on this -- including comments from acting GM Mike Rizzo and reaction from Daniel Cabrera -- before the first pitch, but here's the skeletal update on today's news. * P Daniel Cabrera (0-5, 5.95 ERA) has...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 20, 2009; 5:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Lineups From Nats Park

I'll add Pittsburgh's once we have it. Take note, Austin Kearns is starting for the first time since Friday, when he was hit by a pitch on the hand. And Justin Maxwell, recalled from Class AAA Syracuse after last night's...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 20, 2009; 4:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Boswell: With 'Average' Pitching, Nats Would Be 24-15

Here's an abbreviated and edited version of an e-mail exchange between a fan, Walt Petersen and myself. Walt points out that Bill James did a study -- based on every N.L. game in '85 -- of what winning percentage a...

By Thomas Boswell  |  May 20, 2009; 2:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (81)
 
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From This Point Forward

The Nationals play their 40th game of the season tonight (counting the suspended game from May 5). With some generous rounding, we're at the quarter-pole. The Nationals have a .289 winning percentage; they're on pace for somewhere between 46 and...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 20, 2009; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (103)
 
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Dukes DL'd, Cintron DFA'd; Maxwell And Bergmann Recalled

When the Nats report to the ballpark on Wednesday, they will face a six-game losing streak. They will face (yet another) chance to recover -- though time after time they find new ways to avoid anything but self-inflicted pain. This...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 20, 2009; 12:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (50)
 
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Detwiler Earns A Second Start

When Ross Detwiler arrived at Nationals Park today, he knew almost nothing about his next destination. Would the Washington Nationals return him to Class AA Harrisburg? Ship him to Class AAA Syracuse? Detwiler, at the stadium, did some running drills,...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 19, 2009; 6:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (62)
 
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Lineups From Nats Park

Here is tonight's lineup. I'll add the Buccos' once I get it. Washington Guzman - 6 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn - 9 Willingham - 7 Harris - 8 Hernandez - 4 Nieves - 2 Martis - 1...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 19, 2009; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (55)
 
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History In the Making (Not the Good Kind)

I'm sitting here having some fun with the Play Index at Baseball-Reference.com, trying to put into context how absurd it is for the Nationals to keep losing games when they score five, six, seven or a gazillion runs. (I mean,...

By Dave Sheinin  |  May 19, 2009; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (161)
 
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A Debut And A Debacle: A Closer Look

With the bullpen casting such a cloud over NatsTown -- heck, it's not even a cloud; it's more like one of those massive, ominous alien death machines that assumes position atop every last metropolis in Independence Day -- I'm having...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 19, 2009; 9:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (66)
 
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"I've Never Seen Anything Like It"

"Again," Manny Acta started saying after this one and -- well, you know where this quote is going... ... continuing, because I must... "It was just sad to see the way things are going with our bullpen," the manager then...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 19, 2009; 12:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
 
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Future Plans For Detwiler, Strasburg

Ross Detwiler makes his first big league start tonight. By the accounts of most in the organization, this is only a cameo; Detwiler is not yet ready to be a long-term fill-in for injured lefty Scott Olsen. But that doesn't...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 18, 2009; 6:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (168)
 
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Tonight's Lineup

I don't yet have the Pirates' lineup tonight, but I do have this gem: Tonight (Ohlendorf vs. Detwiler) marks the first time that two pitchers named Ross will start against one another. So let's get this straight. In the span...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 18, 2009; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (65)
 
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Attn: Scott Olsen Fans (And Some Reading)

Olsen was supposed to show up at the ESPN Zone (on the corner of 11th St. NW and E St. NW) at noon today for a Q&A with fans. But Olsen, who is headed for the disabled list with shoulder...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 18, 2009; 10:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (80)
 
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Early Deficits

By now, we know all about the late-inning torments. The line of evidence stretches from early April to the present -- or, if you prefer, from Tacoma (present home of Steven Shell) to Syracuse (present home of Wil Ledezma). But...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 18, 2009; 8:54 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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So Long, Farewell, Etc.

Just wanted to let you all know I'll be gone for three fabulous weeks in Kansas -- and yes, by choice! I get a lot of remarks about taking my vacation in the Wheat Belt but I love it there....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  May 18, 2009; 6:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Best-Case Scenarios, Worst-Case Results

I don't have a pet name for this theory; it's probably not stimulating enough to even deserve a name. Or to even qualify as a theory. But for now, let's call it the Best-Case Theory. At the beginning of the...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 17, 2009; 7:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (89)
 
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Harris Replaces Dukes In CF

[UPDATE, 2:36 p.m.] - The Nats are saying that Dukes exited today's game with left hamstring tightness. He was removed as a precaution, and is being listed as day-to-day. --- After the first inning this afternoon, starting center fielder Elijah...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 17, 2009; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
 
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The Rotation Puzzle

Take a long look at the Washington Nationals' pitching rotation, and the uncertainties form a gnarly pile-up. The team doesn't know how much time injured lefty Scott Olsen will miss. And it doesn't know if Monday's starter (Ross Detwiler) will...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 17, 2009; 1:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Today's Lineups

Dearest NJers, I am elated to be back, and feeling very ready. Thanks to the many who offered sympathies and kind wishes during the last few days; all were appreciated. Thanks, also, to the several Posties -- especially Sheinin and...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 17, 2009; 10:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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