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Nationals Journal: June 7, 2009 - June 13, 2009

Kasten Won't Confirm or Deny Acta Firing Report

Manny Acta has always said a manager is hired to get fired. On the day a report surfaced suggesting his time on the job is now measured in days, the Washington Nationals' skipper was surrounded by the man who hired...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 13, 2009; 7:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (129)
 
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Acta Talks; Willingham on Bereavement Leave [Update]

Just got a few details: Josh's brother was Jon, and he was 27 years old. Josh has gone home to Florence, Ala., for the funeral. This is the somewhat unpleasant news story. Chico's still reporting on Manny, but called to...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  June 13, 2009; 4:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (60)
 
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Nats Sign Third-Round Pick

The Nationals have signed another high-round draft pick to a below-slot signing bonus. Third-round selection Trevor Holder, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Georgia, yesterday signed a contract that included a $200,000 bonus, Holder said. Holder was the 81st...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 13, 2009; 2:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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A Disparity In Speed

The Rays, as they demonstrated last night, are good at stealing bases. So good, that Manny Acta says, "you pretty much can't stop [them]." This year, as a team, the Rays have 101 stolen bases -- 34 more than the...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 13, 2009; 8:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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A Ludicrous Loss (And Maybe A Ludacris Loss Tomorrow)

How many more oddball ways can the Nationals lose? Today's scenario was particularly plainful. And it involved some unusual suspects. Nick Johnson (arguably their top fielder) committed a costly eighth-inning error. Ron Villone (inarguable their top reliever) allowed the decisive...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 13, 2009; 12:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Dukes Back Where His Career Started

Elijah Dukes is not yet a success story. "A work-in-progress," Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten calls him. In glimpses, he looks like a potential all-star. At other times, injury problems interfere with his development. Always, his history of well-documented legal...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 12, 2009; 7:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

Washington Guzman - 6 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn - DH Dukes - 9 Willingham - 7 Harris - 8 Bard - 2 Hernandez - 4 Tampa Upton - 8 Crawford - 7 Longoria - 5 Pena -...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 12, 2009; 6:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Haunted by Lastings Milledge

So while I was in Kansas, I did something I hadn't done since I was a kid -- bought a single pack of baseball cards. (Not that I haven't bought cards more recently; some years ago I still collected religiously,...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  June 12, 2009; 11:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (75)
 
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Once An Inspiration, Now Just An Opponent

Almost exactly four months ago, at the start of spring training, every manager of every bad team in baseball found himself subjected, on an almost daily basis, to the same question: "Any chance [your team] can be this year's Rays?"...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 12, 2009; 8:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (54)
 
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Acta On the Hitting Slump and Lineup Changes

Here is a transcript of our chat today with Manager Manny Acta How do you break the recent hitting slump? We just need to concentrate and get some better at bats in situational hitting. I think we underestimate that and...

By Mark Viera  |  June 11, 2009; 5:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (56)
 
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Questions at Right Field, but Willingham Back to Left Tonight

Josh Willingham had played in left field in all of his 3,359 1/3 career innings in the outfield. That changed on Wednesday night. Willingham, who missed the past week with a viral infection, played in right field in the Washington...

By Mark Viera  |  June 11, 2009; 4:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Thanks, Holdes! Plus Comcast Apology and the Lineups [Update Again!]

You can't make this stuff up. Even Steinberg couldn't make this stuff up. UPDATE Steinberg has updated his item about the "holdes" ball. He's not convinced the photo is a fraud, necessarily, but he'll relentlessly pursue the truth to the...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  June 11, 2009; 1:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (72)
 
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MASN Says Feed Was Not Interrupted; Comcast Apologizes [Update]

For at least a brief period last night, the Washington Nationals became, officially, unwatchable. Some Comcast and Cox subscribers both in Washington and in outlying counties missed a portion of last night's rain-delayed, extra-inning Nationals loss because the cable providers...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 11, 2009; 12:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Trying To Map Out The TV Problems

Folks, I just talked to a MASN spokesman who is under the impression that the MASN2 gaffe last night affected only Comcast subscribers in the DC area. But it seems like the problems were more widespread. If indeed you missed...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 11, 2009; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (56)
 
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Just Another Crazy Night for Nats

Just spent three weeks in what seems like the Sahara next to Washington and, more specifically, Nationals Park. I can't remember this many rain delays, rainouts and general craziness in a baseball season, ever. But some of you probably can....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  June 11, 2009; 8:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (90)
 
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After 12 Innings and a 2-Hour Delay, the Nationals Lose

[UPDATE| 1:25 a.m.] It is over. Mercifully, it is over. The Nationals lost, 4-2, in 12 innings to the Cincinnati Reds after a 2 hour 10 minute rain delay. Jason Bergmann made a good pitch against Cincinnati's Jonny Gomes in...

By Mark Viera and Chico Harlan  |  June 10, 2009; 9:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (167)
 
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Olsen, Wells Look Strong in Rehab Appearances

After throwing three scoreless innings in a rehabilitation start Tuesday with Class A Potomac, Scott Olsen will make his next start with Class AAA Syracuse. Olsen, on the disabled list since May 18 with shoulder tendinitis, threw 34 pitches and...

By Mark Viera  |  June 10, 2009; 8:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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More On Storen

Below, I'll post a transcript of the welcome-to-DC press conference with No. 10 first-round selection Drew Storen, who was live at Nats Park this afternoon. After acting GM Mike Rizzo introduced Storen (who was accompanied by his parents and sister),...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 10, 2009; 6:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
 
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Tonight's Lineups

(I'll have more on the Storen signing soon. He was here in person for the press conference this afternoon.) Cincinnati Hairston -- 5 Taveras -- 8 Phillips -- 4 Nix -- 7 Hernandez -- 3 Bruce -- 9 Gonzalez --...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 10, 2009; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Storen's Bonus: $1.6 Million

I have a little more information here about the Drew Storen signing. The Stanford closer, selected tenth overall yesterday by the Nats in the amateur draft, has agreed to a deal that includes a $1.6 million bonus -- well below...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 10, 2009; 4:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
 
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Nats, First-Round Pick Storen, Agree To Terms

The Washington Nationals plan later this afternoon to officially announced the signing of Drew Storen, the 21-year-old Stanford pitcher selected yesterday with the 10th overall pick in the amateur draft. Terms of the deal were not immediately available. Storen's quick...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 10, 2009; 12:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (114)
 
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Strasburg And Boras Hold Court

This morning's Stephen Strasburg conference call, brought to you by the Scott Boras Corp., lasted 45 minutes. Strasburg took a few-dozen questions, mostly giving by-the-book answers. At one point, when a journalist asked Strasburg about the possibility of an indy...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 10, 2009; 12:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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The Strasburg Watch: Now What? (Plus, Some Links)

One day very soon, there will be an ice-breaking telephone call, a coordination of calendars and, quite likely, a small block of seats hastily booked on a trans-continental flight. And the Stephen Strasburg negotiations, with all their weighty implications, will...

By Dave Sheinin  |  June 10, 2009; 8:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (64)
 
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And Finally, With Overall Pick No. 81...

... the Nationals select pitcher Trevor Holder, a 6-2, 205-pound right-hander out of the University of Georgia. This was the first pick of the third round, and it completes the Nationals' quartet of picks -- all of them out of...

By Dave Sheinin  |  June 9, 2009; 10:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (76)
 
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At No. 50 Overall, the Nats Select...

... University of California-Berkeley second baseman Jeffrey Kobernus, a 6-foot-2, 195-pounder. Bats right, throws right. His dad, who shared the same name, was a former pitcher who spent four years in the Oakland A's and Los Angeles Dodgers' farm systems...

By Dave Sheinin  |  June 9, 2009; 9:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Gwynn On Strasburg

At Nationals Park, they're also trying to play a game tonight. Looks like it'll happen, too. Just about 10 minutes ago, groundskeepers started removing the tarp. The first pitch is scheduled for 8:50 p.m. Meantime, here is what SDSU coach...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 9, 2009; 8:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Rizzo On Strasburg, Storen... and Crow

Nationals acting GM Mike Rizzo just fielded about a dozen questions from the media regarding the team's top two draft picks, San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg and Stanford right-handed reliever Drew Storen. If you'll excuse the occasional typo and...

By Dave Sheinin  |  June 9, 2009; 7:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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And With the 10th Overall Pick, the Nationals Select...

.... Stanford University right-hander Drew Storen, widely viewed as the top relief pitcher in the draft. A rare sophomore-eligible draftee, Storen went 7-1 with seven saves this year for the Cardinal, with a Strasburgian strikeout-to-walk ratio of 66-to-8. In an...

By Dave Sheinin  |  June 9, 2009; 6:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (74)
 
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With the First Pick of the 2009 MLB Draft...

... the Washington Nationals select San Diego State right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg. I hear he's pretty good. August 15 17, the deadline for agreeing to contract terms with draft picks, is exactly 67 69 days away. (The usual August 15...

By Dave Sheinin  |  June 9, 2009; 6:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
 
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Zimmermann, Willingham, Lineups

The news with Jordan Zimmermann is a bit disconcerting, but for now, the team is insisting there's no concern. The rookie starter felt some elbow soreness during his bullpen session on Friday. But he's scheduled to pitch now on Saturday....

By Chico Harlan  |  June 9, 2009; 5:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Zimmermann Scratched From Tonight's Start

A little non-draft news for the afternoon. Jordan Zimmermann has been scratched from tonight's start; the Nats just announced that Ross Detwiler will get the call tonight against the Reds. The team provided no initial reason for the swap, but...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 9, 2009; 3:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
 
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Strategy With The Tenth Overall Pick

Tonight, the No. 1 pick will get most of the national attention. But the No. 10 pick -- Washington's second in the first round -- is plenty intriguing by itself, for the following reasons. 1.) It's a compensatory pick, given...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 9, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (74)
 
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Strasburg Is Everywhere -- And Coming To A Team Near You

By now, chances are good that every last American with a reporter's notebook, a blog, or both has taken the opportunity to write about Stephen Strasburg. (Examples below.) We're about one day shy from this. Various mock drafts have the...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 9, 2009; 8:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
 
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The Fireworks Ban Is Lifted

[UPDATE] -- If fireworks were suspended but didn't miss a game, were they ever really suspended? Hmmm. Here's the updated story. The fireworks ban has already been lifted -- after being established earlier in the day. So, all is back...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 8, 2009; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
 
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The Full Mike Rizzo Draft Commentary

Here is the pre-draft Q&A with Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo. (Quick side question, chicken-egg style. What came first, Scott Boras or the term 'Signability'?) --- Q: How important is this draft for you? It's been well chronicled, it's a...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 8, 2009; 7:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (115)
 
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A Quick Return To The Norm

Washington's dalliance with winning baseball lasted a mere day. They lost this afternoon to the Mets, 7-0, snapping a one-game, um, winning streak. The Nats are now 15-40, good for a .273 winning percentage and a 118-loss pace. But hey,...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 7, 2009; 5:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
 
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Rizzo On Draft

Acting GM Mike Rizzo met with the media this morning for a pre-draft press conference. Though the draft doesn't start until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the conference room in the lowest level at Nationals Park -- situated right next to...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 7, 2009; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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This Afternoon's Lineups

New York Cora - 4 Martinez - 7 Beltran - 8 Wright - 5 Murphy - 3 Church - 9 Schneider - 2 Valdez - 6 Hernandez - 1 Washington Guzman - 6 Johnson - 3 Zimmerman - 5 Dunn...

By Chico Harlan  |  June 7, 2009; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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