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Chico Returns (No, Not That Chico)

In addition to speaking about the return of Matt Chico, which you can read about below, Manager Manny Acta addressed a few other worthwhile tidbits today.

He noted that catcher Josh Bard and Wil Nieves have caught each of the pitchers, and indicated that they would continue to platoon at the position. Bard will be there today, Acta said, because he has good numbers against Boston starter Brad Penny. Those numbers:.538 batting average (7 for 13) with three RBI.

Addressing another position issue, Acta gave a strong endorsement of Willie Harris, who has seen increased time in center field. Not only is he all over the field defensively, Harris is batting .333 in the last three games. Elijah Dukes is batting .118 in his last five games. Harris is also what you might call a "good clubhouse guy."

"He comes to the ballpark everyday with the same energy and he's just a positive guy," Acta said. "It's a luxury to have a guy like Willie."

Acta added: "His energy rubs off. Our fans love him. Why note? I love him, myself. He's a luxury to me here. It's just good to be able to give him at-bats and keep him in the game."

And for more on Chico (again, not that Chico) read below:

By his count, pitcher Matt Chico was last in the Washington Nationals clubhouse 391 days ago. He returned yesterday.

Chico, who underwent Tommy John surgery last July, will join Class AA Harrisburg on Thursday. He was at Nationals Park yesterday before the Nationals' game against the Boston Red Sox to play catch and will throw a bullpen session today.

"I took it one day at a time," Chico said of his recovery. "I didn't want to try to get ahead of myself."

He added: "I'm still kind of in that gray area. But so far, I've missed all the hurdles everyone has had with Tommy John."

Manager Manny Acta hinted that Chico, a left-hander, could be among those who are promoted when the roster expands in September, easing the burden on the young starting pitchers. In order to preserve their arms, Acta said, some starters could be sent to the bullpen.

"Once they hit the innings in September, I don't think it sends the right message if you send the guy home or send him down because he's not going to pitch," Acta said. "I don't think our organization wants to be known for that. If a guy deserves to be in the big leagues, he should be in the big leagues."

In a 7-9 rookie season in 2007, Chico was somewhat inconsistent because he need to rely on his command, not his speed, to be effective after making the jump from Class AA. He struggled with elbow problems last year before undergoing the reconstructive procedure.

"I am kind of surprised how fast an how well he feels in rehab," Acta said.

Chico struggled in his first start since the operation, allowing two runs on three hits in two innings with Class A Hagerstown on June 9. He said yesterday that he needed to step off the mound to compose himself before that appearance. The adrenaline and nerves forced him to shake so bad, he said, he could not read the catcher's sign.

Since then, his inning allotment (five) and pitch count (80) have been increased. He said his velocity has improved from those initial appearances, reaching 90 mph, and he has regained some of his command.

"As far as pitching wise, I feel like I'm ready now," Chico said of his health. "But obviously I need to get innings up. It's going to depend on how I'm throwing and other guys opening a spot up."

By Mark Viera  |  June 23, 2009; 6:41 PM ET
 
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Comments

This is good news, although I'm still convinced that MChico is a LR-MR type, rather than a SP. I wish him continued success in his comeback from TJ-surgery & hope to see him with the big club again in September.

Posted by: BinM | June 23, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Let's give credit where credit is due: In 2007, Chico (the pitcher, not the writer) was our most consistent arm. His stats may say differently, but those around here who lived through it will say otherwise I suspect.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 23, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

amen, lowcountry. I totally remember when he was our most consistent guy.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 23, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

lowcountry: No argument - It's just that his numbers fell off significantly on his 2nd - 3rd time through the lineup.
He's a tough little dude, just didn't have enough tricks up his sleeves to get deep into games.

Posted by: BinM | June 23, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Lerners are at the park tonight and see the energy that a good team can create in its fans. We can only aspire to have our own "pink hat brigade" Not that we want it or anything. Great crowd tonight regardless of who they are pulling for.

Posted by: chris88 | June 23, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I think he ran out of gas in August, BinM. A cautionary tale that I'm certain Manny remembers.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 23, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Chico will always be one of my favorite Nats if only for that hilarious wild pitch he uncorked against the Marlins in 2007 - second only to Hinckley's lob earlier this season.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 23, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Tschida's strike zone seems to be moving up in the zone (letters-to-thighs, instead of letters-to-knees), or am I seeing things?

Posted by: BinM | June 23, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

penny knew you don't want to mess with willie harris!

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Penny seems to have lost the strike zone - let's cash in.

Posted by: BinM | June 23, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Smart play by Youkilis (sigh); That bites.

Posted by: BinM | June 23, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Is there a rule that says if you're a Sox fan in the second row, leftmost Presidential seat, you have to prove to the world that you're an asshat by making a phone call and waving to a couple of hundred thousand people? There have been at least three different idiots doing that tonight.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 23, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Have the Nats catchers thrown out a single base stealer all season?

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 23, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

You mean waving to 12000 viewers?

Posted by: comish4lif | June 23, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I suspect there are a few people in New England watching also...

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 23, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Hey Senator Kerry

we got bats and uniforms and everything just like the big clubs

Posted by: CBinDC | June 23, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Willie!!!!

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | June 23, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Willllliiiiieeeee !!!!! way to go. tie game.

Posted by: JT2009 | June 23, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

penny found out the hard way that willie harris is a b-a-a-a-a-d man!

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Manny, I am sure you know now, we have a CF. Keep Dukes platooning in RF only

Posted by: JT2009 | June 23, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Time for a double-switch: Taveras (P) batting 8th, AGonz (2B), batting 9th.

Posted by: BinM | June 23, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I just added Willie Harris's birthday to wikipedia's June 22 entry.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 23, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

What IS it with Zimm and routine plays vs spectacular ones?!?

Posted by: Juan-John | June 23, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Is Boston the only team in the majors that fields an all-white American born lineup? Unless I am blind I do not see a Latino or a black player. Very unusual in this age.

Posted by: MKadyman | June 23, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

What it IS, is that Zimm is a silver glove 3rd baseman.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 23, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Willie !!!! another big play, keeping Nats in the game

Posted by: JT2009 | June 23, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

mkadyman

the sawx were the only mlb team to open the season without an american-born black player on its roster. when lugo and pa[i are out of the starting lineup, it lacks the presence of hispanic players. i guess boston is partying like it's 1959.

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

er...that should have been when lugo and papi are out of the starting lineup....

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

ugh...Guzi scorched that ball too...

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 23, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Don't cha just love "the face of the franchise" choking when it counts can't even make a routine throw on a routine ground ball,now lets see what happens when he comes up to the plate.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 23, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Why the hell didn't guzman bunt? Runner on first...down by one.......

Posted by: theredskin | June 23, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

MKadyman

Jason Bay is Canadian.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 23, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Was it just me or did Senator Kerry seem like he tipped a few back before that interview?
____________________________________________________
Hey Senator Kerry

we got bats and uniforms and everything just like the big clubs

Posted by: CBinDC

Posted by: TimDz | June 23, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

No outs....

Posted by: theredskin | June 23, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

mkadyman when lugo and pa[i are out of the starting lineup, it lacks the presence of hispanic players. i guess boston is partying like it's 1959.

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 9:30 PM

Mike Lowell is from Puerto Rico.

Posted by: FloresFan | June 23, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

**sigh** jason bay, ANOTHER player this franchise gave away for nothing.

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

FloresFan

thanx for the knowledge.i knew bay wasn't american born.

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

With all the non-first-pitch strikes the Nats have thrown, it's a miracle the game has stayed so close this long....

Posted by: Juan-John | June 23, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

...and Wells walks another...

Here-we-go-lubby-lou...

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 23, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

oh boy...Colome...with the bases loaded. yikes.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 23, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

game over.

Posted by: rachel216 | June 23, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

the calamity-bay result is textbook of what happens when bad teams don't get good calls.

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Man .......those Sawaux fans are winning the award for most annoying fans of all time. And that includes Philly fans.

Posted by: CBinDC | June 23, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

goodnight, gracie.

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

All year no real trolls on here and then the Saueaux come to town. Not even the Yankee fans have been as obnoxious

Posted by: CBinDC | June 23, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

D'oh!

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 23, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

re: mike rizzo's got-to-go list by the end of the season

colome, hanrahan, tavarez, wells, belliard, johnson, guzman, kearns.

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

@CB

Seems like most of the posters tonight are either regulars or semi-regular contributors. Of which trolls do you speak?

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 23, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Johnson and Guzman?

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 23, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

**sigh** jason bay, ANOTHER player this franchise gave away for nothing.

Nothing? You call Lou Collier nothing???

Posted by: baltova1 | June 23, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

leetee1955

Sorry it was the early thread ....a few over there earlier...first time I had read such action on here all year ...I am still fuming about it

Posted by: CBinDC | June 23, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

"You call Lou Collier nothing???"

WOOHOOO!...good one.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 23, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

NaugaNats

nick will be a free agent and maybe the nats can leverage honest-to-god prospects for him rather than draft picks. guzman's defensive value is diminishing and the young starters need as much help in the infield as possible. the angels have had inconsistent play at SS this season and maybe playing in a more offenive-oriented league will mask guzman's shortcomings.

baltova1

you said it.

gas canrahan in. game ovah!

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

This has become just flat out embarrassing. Why is Hanrahan still collecting a paycheck from the Nats?

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 23, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

So I guess now it's back to fire Manny talk

Posted by: CBinDC | June 23, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Surly

I can't argue...but they are the most consistant hitters we have. I'd hate to see them go...

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 23, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

@CB

After Thursday, we probably won't hear from David617 and bosoxgal for another three years. Just roll with it for two more days.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 23, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I can see why the spankees can't beat em. They're just a quality hitting club. Maybe we can steal one tomorrow, hopefully. Never give up.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 23, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Why, why, why???? Manny pulled Lannan knowing full well that no one I repeat no one in that bull pen could pitch better than John for two more innings!

Posted by: navboss | June 23, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

navboss

manny is "dr. feelgood" where his starters are concerned. but, like most managers, the way he uses his bullpen means theoretically inferior pitchers are in the game during the most critical innings. my head hurts. i'm going to bed.

Posted by: surly_w | June 23, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I can not tell you how tired I am of Manny Acta and pitch counts. He says one thing and does the oposit over and over and over again. He says he does not have any limit but then he takes out Lannan after he strikes out the first batter. Acta is just such tool.

Posted by: JayBeee | June 23, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

@JayBeee

If it makes you feel any better, John Smoltz told Ladson he doesn't endorse shutting down young pitchers after they reach an arbitrary innings limit.

When told that that some of the Nationals pitchers were going to be shut down in September to rest their arms, Smoltz disagreed with the philosophy. He noted that the Braves' rotations of the late 1980s and early '90s had no restrictions. By having no restrictions, according to Smoltz, it made the staff better. He said young pitchers should have the mind-set to pitch all season.

"Well, I'm not a fan of [shutting down pitchers]," Smoltz said. "That, to me, is becoming the new age theory for whatever belief that people have -- this is the way to protect the future of the arms. I totally do not agree. I think there are so many contributing factors to it. If a young pitcher has good mechanics and the mind-set to work at it, there is no reason why he can't compete at this level. I'm just not a big fan of being shut down, because I think the philosophy has come about to say you have but so many throws in your arm. I know there's data and statistics nowadays, but I think the mind-set is more important."

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 23, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Let's look at the positives here...Lannan was solid (not great, but solid) against what is arguably the best offense in baseball...and has been the definition of a staff ACE for the past month. ...ok...that's about all I got, but it's something, d^mmit, an I'll take something over b*itching about Manny.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 23, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Thanks leetee1955, I had not seen that yet....and what John did not say is but sure sounds like he was thinking....."that is a losers approach.....no wonder they are the worst team in baseball again and again."

Posted by: JayBeee | June 23, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Please, of all nights, this is not the night to bust on Manny. Lannan hadn't been that great tonight and had pitched the normal allotment of pitches for a starter. Francona took out Penny at basically the same point in his game (in fact, the Boston Globe blog second-guessed Francona for not pinch-hitting for Penny in the 6th). The difference in the game is that the Bosox have five guys in their bullpen better than anyone in the Nats pen. No manager can overcome that.

Put it this way: if you switched managers in the two dugouts before the game, who do you think would have won?

Posted by: baltova1 | June 23, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

If Acta had keep our Ace and most experienced pitcher in for say 130 pitches...this game is a great game. Acta turned the game into a joke....yet again.....and oh by the way.....Acta and his 20 ground balls during batting practice is not working to fix Zim's problem....I think it was Ray who said....."Someone has to work with him"......like no one is even addressing it....thanks Manny for all you do (not do).

Posted by: JayBeee | June 23, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

to baltova 1------- Francona and the Nats

Posted by: navboss | June 23, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

You have to manage with what you have and Lannan was the best pitcher we had. Manny does not manage to win games.

Posted by: JayBeee | June 23, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

@baltova, I think it's that the BoSox have ONE guy in their bullpen better than any FIVE of ours... :-P

As for Zimmerman, I love the kid, three of my four jerseys have his name on it, but I can't in good conscience vote for him as an All-Star just yet. I gotta see him cut down on those easy-throws-to-first-turned-into-errors.

And after him, I'm honestly not sure which Nat should go to the All-Star Game.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 23, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I would say Lannan is our All Star....he is the only one who could help the National League win a game.

Posted by: JayBeee | June 23, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

OK, yeah, Lannan maybe.

Dat be it for me tonight. Off to bed. Let's get 'em tomorrow! (especially since I have a ticket to that game!)

Night all! :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | June 23, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Manny does not manage to win games.

-----------

You know, I try to avoid name calling on this site, but that's one of the stupidest things I've ever read in my life. You guys have fun. I'm out.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 23, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Just back from the game. What a great atmosphere, and for seven innings it was an actual tight baseball game. I suppose as a Nats fan that's all you have a right to hope for.

Can anyone explain why Manny didn't bring in Villone to face Varitek, a left handed batter who drove in the lead run in the seventh? I know it didn't matter in light of the meltdown in the eighth, but is there a theory of managing that i'm missing here? He brought Villone in one batter later, why not take the matchup you want with the bases loaded? Was he not warmed up yet? Whose fault is that?

At least Zim got a few hits. Unfortunately, AK got a hit too, which will probably mean a few more opportunities for him to strike out in key situations.

Posted by: Section222 | June 23, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Shocker, a pitcher who thinks pitchers should be left in the game longer. Get out.

Also this

http://www.woolis.com/images/2004ICubs/04BB5-30%20063PRIOR.jpg

Posted by: soundbloke | June 23, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Maybe some of you regulars can clear something up for me.

I know that Adam Dunn was a quarterback in his Texas youth, does that translate into a cannon or even a gun in left field?

I'm just wondering why he ignored Willie Harris' calling for the fly ball, cut in front of him and wasn't ready to unleash a throw as soon as he caught the ball.

Posted by: shygaard | June 23, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

shygaard

You would think it would translate wouldn't you. And yet it has not. At all. In the least.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 23, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

(reposted from previous thread)

"Bandwagon Nats Fans"

Two ardent young fans of the Nats
Could care less about Austin's stats
They're age three and four
And love their ador -
Able pink curly W hats.

They come to the park and eat ribs
And chow down on brownies and Dibs
Which I hold in my sway
'Til the Nats make a play
They cheer, and then eat like pigs

So Nationals games equal candy
(As long as they do something dandy)
For instilling esteem
Of the hometown team
Boy chocolate sure comes in handy!

Do bribes make them bandwagoneers?
Or pink hats that come down past their ears?
The big Church of Baseball
Has all kinds of faithful
Some just more tender in years

Posted by: nationalsanthems | June 24, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

JayB, I expect more from you!

"I can not tell you how tired I am of Manny Acta and pitch counts... He says he does not have any limit but then he takes out Lannan after he strikes out the first batter."

He left Lannan in to face a left-handed batter, then brought in Tavarez to face the next two, right-handed batters. That's not inconsistent, that's old school. Frank Robinson, even, famously obsessed over pitching match-ups. So much so that he was quite fine using the entire pen in a single evening.

Posted by: Section506 | June 24, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

new post for all us night owls...

Posted by: BGinVA | June 24, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Section222: "Can anyone explain why Manny didn't bring in Villone to face Varitek, a left handed batter who drove in the lead run in the seventh?"

Varitek is a switch-hitter who has always been much better from the right side than the left. It's generally a bad idea to throw lefties at him if you have a choice.

Posted by: Tom_P | June 24, 2009 3:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Tom P. I've been educated.

Posted by: Section222 | June 24, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

My favorite Willie Harris story (or my defining moment, if you will):

My son and I went to Spring Training this year and saw Willie play 2nd basse and miss 3 (!) catchable pop flys. Never did the crowd boo him. He actually got a 4th opportunity which he caught for the 3rd out. As he came running into the dugout after the catch the fans gave him a standing O and cheered for at least 30 seconds if not more. Willie smiled and waved to the crowd. He's a great asset to the team.

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | June 24, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

"Is Boston the only team in the majors that fields an all-white American born lineup? Unless I am blind I do not see a Latino or a black player. Very unusual in this age.

Posted by: MKadyman | June 23, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse"
-----------------
Mike Lowell is Cuban raised in Puerto Rico.

Jacoby Ellsbury is the first member of the Navajo tribe to play in MLB.

David Ortiz, a regular DH who will play 1st tonight and perhaps tomorrow, is from the Dominican Republic.

Their shorstop rotation regularly features Julio Lugo, who is also Dominican.

We'll skip the pitching staff, which is has 3 Japanese pitchers plus Manny Delcarmen and and Ramon Ramirez; Justin Masterson was born in Jamaica but is the son of an American minister and raised in the IUs.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 24, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Carrying forward:

Tom-P, if I recall correctly, the Lerners had the second highest organizational profit in the game last year. And you are preaching to the choir here re. supporting the team. Just saying.

---

Clearly, that's the big hole that needs to be filled for the Nats -- but improvement on the field requires money, so I urge all you Nats fans to buy tickets and support your team.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 24, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 24, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

MANNY ACTA : H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E!!!!

"Once they hit the innings in September, I don't think it sends the right message if you send the guy home or send him down because he's not going to pitch," Acta said. "I don't think our organization wants to be known for that. If a guy deserves to be in the big leagues, he should be in the big leagues."

JD Martin: Best record of all starting pitchers in the minors, AAA Syracuse. Also rehabbed from Tommy Johns.

Posted by: periculum | June 24, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

natsfan, I know this is not the right place to preach about supporting the team -- nothing but fans here. I just wish there were a way to reach the ones who haven't caught the fever. D.C. wished for a team for so long, it just kills me to see all the empty seats most nights. That's happening in so many cities that I fear for my favorite sport. I'm a Sox fan, sure, but mostly I'm a baseball fan. I have a great fondness for D.C., and I'd love to see the Nats do well (not so much tonight and tomorrow, of course, but you understand).

Good luck with Strasberg; I'm looking forward to seeing him in a Nats uniform -- I hope Rizzo kicks Scott Boras' butt on the contract so there's something left over for Bryce Harper next year.

Posted by: Tom_P | June 24, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope that the Lerners aren't going to wait for attendance to happen before opening up their wallet... because it works the other way around. Win games, then the Park fills up.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 24, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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