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Nationals Journal: May 24, 2009 - May 30, 2009

A Long Homer, Another Loss

The above picture gives you the vantage point from Section 304 at Citizens Bank Park, where tonight Ryan Howard deposited a third-inning grand slam. Some twenty-something guy in a white jersey, seated in the first row of the third...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 30, 2009; 11:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
 
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More On Kearns, And A Random Henry Mateo Reference

Strictly speaking, the roster move the Nats made today involved a straight-up swap of old-ish prospects, 25-year-old Justin Maxwell and 26-year-old Alberto Gonzalez. Maxwell, a centerfielder, was returned to Class AAA Syracuse after 16 hitless at bats. Gonzalez, a shortstop,...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 30, 2009; 6:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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Lineups From Citizens Bank

Not a typo. Austin Kearns gets the start in center tonight. I'll elaborate on the team's thinking in my next post, which I'll dish out asap. (Reader's Digest version: Kearns has played CF before, though not recently. The Nats' offense...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 30, 2009; 5:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Thomas Boswell's Impressions of Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg is as close to a clone of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood as you'll see. And he's probably just about as good a prospect, despite his loss to Virginia on Friday night. All three pitchers are listed as...

By Thomas Boswell  |  May 30, 2009; 4:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Maxwell Demoted To Class AAA; Gonzalez Recalled

The Nationals today made a roster move that changes the look of their bench and thins their depth in the outfield until Elijah Dukes returns from his hamstring injury. In advance of tonight's game against the Phillies, the Nationals optioned...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 30, 2009; 1:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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A Little Dancing, And Then The News

Before we get to the usual assortment of cheerless/lamentable NatsTown news, let's start with some off-topic means for smiling. Like this video. A few fellow Fourth Wing Of Democracy types were laughing about it in the press box yesterday. Gotta...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 30, 2009; 8:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Dukes Faces Possibility Of 90 Days In Jail

Washington Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes will spend the next days with Class AA Harrisburg, trying to rehabilitate his left hamstring injury. In the meantime, he must deal with another problem. Hillsborough (Fla.) Circuit Court Judge Mark Wolfe on Friday ordered...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 29, 2009; 8:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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The Strasburg Watch: A Solid Seven Innings

UPDATE THROUGH SEVEN: Stephen Strasburg just mowed down the Virginia Cavaliers in the seventh, striking out three straight batters after allowing a leadoff single, and with double-barreled action in the Aztecs' bullpen, that could be the end of his night....

By Dave Sheinin  |  May 29, 2009; 7:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Flores Has Injury Setback

Today, the Washington Nationals were planning to activate, not reevaluate, Jesus Flores. But an injury setback to their starting catcher has changed the terms of discussion, and now has the Nationals wondering how much longer they must wait for his...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 29, 2009; 6:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Just got back up to the press box. Jesus Flores had a injury setback, and will be kept out of action for at least a few more days. That's why he didn't come off the DL today, as planned. I'll...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 29, 2009; 6:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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The Strasburg Watch: NCAA Regional Edition

At this very moment, ESPN's roving on-field camera is all up in the nostrils of the guy catching lobbed-in throws from the San Diego State's infielders and flipping them to the coach hitting fungoes next to him, as the Aztecs...

By Dave Sheinin  |  May 29, 2009; 5:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Flores Won't Be Back For Tonight's Game

The Nats' clubhouse isn't yet open for media infiltration, but I've gotten word that Jesus Flores (right shoulder injury) -- who was expected to be activated from the DL before this series -- will not be back for tonight's game....

By Chico Harlan  |  May 29, 2009; 3:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Strasburg to Start Tonight for SDSU

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg, expected to be chosen by the Nationals with the No. 1 pick in next month's first-year player draft, will start for San Diego State tonight in its NCAA regional opener against Virginia in Irvine, Calif. Strasburg is...

By Matt Bonesteel  |  May 29, 2009; 1:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Morning Reading

We've got some part and parcel thoughts on and from Manny Acta. First of all, read Boswell's column, where he writes that "Acta's managerial style during games -- a blend of Torre, Mahatma Gandhi and a petrified pillar of salt...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 29, 2009; 9:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
 
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Minor League Report

Here is the weekly organizational minor league report, courtesy of Nats PR man Bill Gluvna. --- NATIONALS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT This Week's Top Headline AND THE AWARD GOES TO...: Potomac Nationals 1B Chris Marrero was selected as the Single-A Carolina...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 28, 2009; 1:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (110)
 
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Off Day Reading

Some time in the last week, the Nationals stopped playing like a team with no luck and started playing like a team with no chance. No longer is the bullpen (3.28 ERA in the last eight games) blowing games --...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 28, 2009; 10:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (67)
 
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Reviewing The Review

OK, I wanted to come back with a more definitive post on the home run instant replay decision tonight. First, a description of the play, after watching it numerous times and speaking to the parties with the best view: In...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 28, 2009; 12:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (73)
 
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A Review Of A Wild Night

This is one of those nights where everything is oversized and ridiculous, and anybody who reads the following without having seen things first-hand will just think I'm practicing my hyperbole. Tonight, the pitch count totals are gross, the balls are...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 27, 2009; 9:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (63)
 
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Nats React To Steroid Claims

By the time the Nats reported to Citi Field this afternoon, most had read or heard about the Lakeland, Fla., man who claims he sold performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes, including players on the Nationals and Capitals. But even the...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 27, 2009; 6:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (107)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Washington Guzman -- 6 Johnson -- 3 Zimmerman -- 5 Dunn -- 9 Willingham -- 7 Belliard -- 4 Maxwell -- 8 Nieves -- 2 Zimmermann -- 1 New York Pagan -- 8 Castillo -- 4 Wright -- 5 Sheffield...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 27, 2009; 5:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Kasten: 'I Don't Have Any Particular Concerns'

Nationals team president Stan Kasten said today that he has no immediate concerns about the claims of a Florida-based man who says he distributed steroids to professional athletes, including unnamed members of the Washington Nationals. Kasten has spoken with Major...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 27, 2009; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (62)
 
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Nats With Ties To PEDs

This is just for some context, but here is a list of former/current Washington players with ties to performance-enhancing drugs. Jose Guillen: Nats outfielder from 2005-2007, now with Kansas City. San Francisco Chronicle reported he made $20,000 worth of HGH...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 27, 2009; 12:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Busted Steroids Dealer Says He Sold To Nats, Caps

A Florida man at the center of a massive steroid bust has told law enforcement officials that he sold performance-enhancing drugs to pro athletes, including those on the Washington Nationals and Washington Capitals, according to this report. Investigators remain uncertain...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 27, 2009; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Cabrera Designated For Assignment

Unable to find a place for him in their rotation or their bullpen, and unable to tolerate the idea of watching his continued struggles, the Washington Nationals on Tuesday designated Daniel Cabrera for assignment, cutting ties with the pitcher they...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 26, 2009; 10:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
 
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Notes On Kearns, MacDougal And Others

With any luck, Austin Kearns is dealing right now with nothing more serious than a slump. Both in spring training and in April, Kearns showed a rejuvenated power stroke, the early dividends of his work with new hitting coach Rick...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 26, 2009; 7:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (49)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Right now, one hour before the first pitch, the Citi Field's infield is covered by a tarp. Skies have been overcast all afternoon, and both teams took BP inside today. But so far, we've seen nothing more than some raindrops....

By Chico Harlan  |  May 26, 2009; 6:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Morning Reading

* Here is my gamer from yesterday. If instant replay hadn't stolen the story, this would have perhaps been the day to write about Austin Kearns, whose recent month can be summed up by its most typical moment -- a...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 26, 2009; 9:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (109)
 
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The Reviewed, Debated Home Run

For more than eight minutes tonight, we waited. The local TV feed showed a split screen of Manny Acta and Jerry Manuel. John Lannan was on the mound, pacing back and forth, chatting with Wil Nieves, later chatting with...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 26, 2009; 12:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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The Cabrera Predicament

Since transitioning into the bullpen almost one week ago, Daniel Cabrera has followed the relief pitcher's existence -- with one glaring difference. He has yet to actually pitch. Since last Tuesday, Cabrera has watched every Washington Nationals' game from the...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 25, 2009; 7:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (67)
 
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Tonight's Lineups From Citi Field

Washington Guzman - 6 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn - 7 Kearns - 9 Harris - 8 Hernandez - 4 Nieves - 2 Lannan - 1 New York Pagan - 9 Castillo - 4 Beltran - 8 Sheffield...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 25, 2009; 4:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Anchored In The Middle

When Adam Dunn is not hitting well, he has only one strategy: He keeps playing -- without interruption -- until that changes. Dunn does not take breathers to bust out of slumps. As a rule, when he's healthy (and he...

By Chico Harlan  |  May 25, 2009; 9:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Nats Cap Home Stand With 8-5 Win Over O's

Ok, be honest: When you first heard that first baseman Nick Johnson had been scratched from the starting lineup at the last minute, how many of you figured he had been traded (or was on the verge of being traded)?...

By Steve Yanda  |  May 24, 2009; 6:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Lineup Change (Updated)

Just before first pitch, a lineup change was announced the altered the batting order. The new Nationals' lineup is as follows: Harris -- CF Guzman -- SS Zimmerman -- 3B Dunn -- 1B Willingham -- LF Belliard -- 2B Kearns...

By Steve Yanda  |  May 24, 2009; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
 
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Lineups

Orioles: Roberts - 2B Jones - CF Markakis - RF Huff - 1B Wigginton - 3B Reimold - LF Moeller - C Andino - SS Bergesen - P Nationals: Guzman - SS Johnson - 1B Zimmerman - 3B Dunn -...

By Steve Yanda  |  May 24, 2009; 12:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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