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Clippard Thrives in New Role; Dunn Nurses Wrist

Shortly before 4 p.m., Tyler Clippard slipped into the Washington Nationals clubhouse and only a few players and coaches even noticed that he settled at his locker. But it was hardly a surprise that Washington was in need of a new option in its bullpen.

A day after their relievers imploded in an eighth inning collapse, the Nationals today recalled Clippard from Class AAA Syracuse and designated Kip Wells for assignment in an effort to identify reliable middle-inning options out of the bullpen.

"I'm going to take the ball whenever the ask me to," Clippard said. "So far so good."

Wells, 32, was among a group of relievers who represented the epicenter of frustration for Washington. He was 0-2 with two saves and a 6.49 ERA in 23 relief appearances this season. On Tuesday, Wells needed only 14 pitches to warrant his removal, allowing two runs on two walks after facing three batters. Later that night, Manager Manny Acta suggested it was again time to shake up the bullpen.

Clippard, 24, who was 1-1 in two starts last season, moved exclusively to the bullpen in 2009 and has flourished in the new role. In 14 appearances since May 18, he has worked 19 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. He is 4-1 with one save and a .92 ERA this season.

"He's got a very good changeup," Acta said. "That's his best pitch. We sent him down from spring training to work on his fastball command. The success he's had down there tells us he's getting better."

Clippard said: "Coming into a reliever role this year kind of has helped me forget about everything mechanically and not having to worry about throwing a bullpen in between starts. It's just going out there and throwing the ball, eliminating all those bad thoughts. It's turned into a good thing for me. Everything's kind of falling into place."

On Sunday, Clippard was prepared to be recalled when it appeared that Jesus Colome was headed to the disabled list. Clippard flew down to Washington to join the Nationals, but did not even make it to stadium before being sent back to Syracuse. Clippard made it into the clubhouse this afternoon, and he is hoping for an extended stay this time. The Nationals are hoping he can help provide a solution for their troubled bullpen.

Dunn Sits, Nurses Wrist

Adam Dunn was not in the lineup yesterday because of some discomfort in his right wrist after tweaking it in the fourth inning on Tuesday. He visited a hand specialist and underwent a precautionary MRI exam but is available to play in tonight's game.

Dunn struggled to describe the sensation in his wrist - more bothersome that minor discomfort, but not quite pain - and said he has felt recently felt some tingling in his fingers. He said he did not know exactly what he did to aggravate the injury in Tuesday's game.

Chico Throws at Park

Reliever Matt Chico threw a bullpen session of almost 50 pitches today at Nationals Park. He said it went well and that he was able to throw four of his pitches: a fastball, a changeup, a curveball and a slider.

Chico, who is rehabilitating from elbow ligament replacement surgery last July, is scheduled to throw three innings or 50 pitches for Class AA Harrisburg on Saturday. He will join Harrisburg on Thursday.

By Mark Viera  |  June 24, 2009; 7:02 PM ET
 
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Next: With Two Big Innings, Red Sox Rock Stammen

Comments

I had a random thought today, thinking about Manny's comments about a 6 man rotation. Also listening to Rob Dibble talking about moving our young guys to the bullpen. Since our young arms seem to only go 5 solid innings without losing gas or being figured out by the other team. Could you have a pitching staff with two pitchers going a total of 8 innings and McDougal saving the ninth.

Lannan can consistently go 7 innings but then what about
Martis/Mock
Olsen/Stammen
Zimmermann/Balester
Deitweiler/Clippard

that leaves McDougal, Beimel, and Villone for situational relief.

just a thought from a newly converted baseball fan (1st time to a game does it every time)

Posted by: wrw0601 | June 24, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Wrw, What have we got to lose? What the hell, go for it.

Posted by: chris88 | June 24, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm interested in seeing Chico's velocity once he starts his rehab pitching.

I could be wrong on this, but often, pitchers return from Tommy John surgery able to throw harder than they did before the surgery. Chico's biggest problem was that he was the very softest of soft-tossing lefties, and very transparent in that sense.

Posted by: MrMadison | June 24, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

OTOH, our starter are NOT the problem. I think a lot of the problem could be solved by just getting rid of F-ing Hanrahan. he seems to always be the common denominator

Posted by: chris88 | June 24, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

To Tyler Clippard, Welcome back, and best of luck, young man. Stay with what got you back (Fastball / Change).

Re: Dunn's injury - sounds like an irratated or pinched nerve or blood vessel; an MRI is a good precautionary move.

To MChico - hurray on another step back in his rehab; now onward to HAR for at least 2-3 starts.

Posted by: BinM | June 24, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Solution for the shattering bats.... her in Florida, a lot of folks apply a clear plastic lining to the windows to keep the windows from shattering. Couldn't we wrap the bats in a similar fashion to prevent people from getting hurt?

Posted by: chris88 | June 24, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

@MrM: I'm seemingly in the minority on this, but if/when MChico gets back to the big club, he'd be great in a MR role, imo. He's capable of getting through a lineup once or twice, but gets creamed on the third pass. Either way, he probably won't be fully ready until 2010, and I wouldn't want the team to "rush" him again, the way they did in 2007.

Posted by: BinM | June 24, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

HBD sighting. ;)

Posted by: chris88 | June 24, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering what O's Exec thinks about the Nationals selling Tickets for the Nats/O's Series...in Camden Yards....

Posted by: MrMadison | June 24, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow!!! the Nats got a call!

Posted by: chris88 | June 24, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Umm, chris88- I think that would fall under an illegal modification of the bat, much like applying pine tar / tape above the grip area, drilling out the "meat" of the bat & filling it with cork, etc. A big part of the problem is caused by one of two recent changes in bats...
Change 1) the shift from Ash bats to Maple bats, due to the availability of wood, and Change 2) Players asking for thinner grip areas and thicker "meat" areas on bats that mimic the shape / weight distribution they grew used to with Aluminum or composite bats in H.S. and college.

Posted by: BinM | June 24, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. Stammen was rolling, too.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | June 24, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

@BinM, You are probably right. Maybe mandating larger circumference on the handle would help. It is getting very dangerous, Damn, Papi just went deep

Posted by: chris88 | June 24, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Stuff happens - hits hurt, but walks KILL.

Posted by: BinM | June 24, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Oy. A changeup, and a badly located changeup at that. Forget the home run, Ortiz is through if he can't get around on a 92 mph fastball. The blame for that one gets shared among Stammen, Nieves, Manny and McCatty. I'd love to know what their pre-series strategy was for pitching to Ortiz. Dibble just said it, they're given him too much respect.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 24, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Kearns is so bad.

Posted by: RickFelt | June 24, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

BTW, when was the last time the Nats hit a three-run homer? Look at how Lester pitched that last inning. The entire momentum of the game shifted on that one pitch.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 24, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Yea, rookie mistake, threw him a changeup while he couldn't catch up with the fastball. Not sorry to see Wells go, he's been a Jonah in the bullpen ever since he got here...

Posted by: bromisky | June 24, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

@chris88: The smarter move might be to make the taper ratio (grip / barrel) smaller, or bring the grip-to-barrel lenghts back toward a balance point.

Don't know what the numbers look like currently - don't even know if MLB has looked into this aspect, but something needs to be done. Players, coaches, fans & even Umpires have been injured by broken bats in the last few years.

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

That's a good baseball team. Excellent on the fundamentals, tough pitching and great situational hitting. It's only based on a handful of games but they look better than the Yankees, for sure.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 24, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I still would love to see JD Martin get a shot at pitching in Washington this year... The kid is performing VERY WELL
http://syracuse.chiefs.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=J.D.%20Martin&pos=P&sid=t552&t=p_pbp&pid=455605

Posted by: PNatsFan | June 24, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

@PNats: Martin might force a callup when rosters expand in September, if he keeps up his current levels; The problem is, he's not on the 40-man roster - Balester, Mock & Estrada are, and are therefore ahead of him in roster callup order.

Posted by: BinM | June 24, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Our last 3-run homer was by A. Hernandez on the 16th. We've only hit two this month, but, then again, so have the Red Sox, according to my research.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 24, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Nice hit Josh !!! come on Nats, lets come back.

Posted by: JT2009 | June 24, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

and Dukes stikes out. What a surprise.

Posted by: JT2009 | June 24, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Finally, a hit with RISP for the Nats to at least make it interesting! What do folks think about Stammen in a possible middle relief role when Olsen is ready? He was great the first time through the lineup, and I'd be curious to see how he performs in that role.

Posted by: souldrummer | June 24, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

souldrummer, you beat me to it. Looking at how hitters having a pretty low batting average against him the first time round and then go way up from there, it makes sense to me.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 24, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

hey soul - did you see olsen pitch before going on the DL? he should be the one coming back in middle relief!

Posted by: DCPowerGator | June 24, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Zimm is hexed right now. I can't believe how close that was.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 24, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Goooooooooooooooooooooz!

Keep hitting Nats. Zimm nearly got that one to go.

Oh and we're a bad defensive team. But it gives me some satisfaction to see JD Drew absolutely suck in right field.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 24, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Why not just send Stamen down, and recall him in September to limit Detweiler or Martis's pitch count?

Posted by: soundbloke | June 24, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

@sound: When Olsen comes back, Manny & the FO will need to make the call regarding SP/RP/SYR/DFA for Stammen, Olsen, Detwiler, Colome, or Hanrahan; That will come in the next 7-10 days.

My best-guess is that the Nationals return Olsen to a SP role, move Stammen to a RP role, & DFA either Colome (my pick) or Hanrahan.

Posted by: BinM | June 24, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

@sound: When Olsen comes back, Manny & the FO will need to make the call regarding SP/RP/SYR/DFA for Stammen, Olsen, Detwiler, Colome, or Hanrahan; That will come in the next 7-10 days.

My best-guess is that the Nationals return Olsen to a SP role, move Stammen to a RP role, & DFA either Colome (my pick) or Hanrahan.

Posted by: BinM | June 24, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess that makes it official. We're either back to using [RF], unless we switch to [OE].

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 24, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

or [AB]

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 24, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Well allrighty, we actually have a friggin' chance this eve (thanks to some nice bullpen work, no question).
Let's go Bard, Harris and Guuuuz!

Posted by: HotNats | June 24, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Dangit.

Let's go Harris and Guuuuz!

Posted by: HotNats | June 24, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Dangit part deaux.

Let's go Guuuuz!

Posted by: HotNats | June 24, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh well, maybe they'll pull one tomorrow eve, (which would be my first live-witnessed win this season), as I sit there in the (anticipated) sweltering evening...

Congrats to Ortiz for his 1,000+ RBIs this eve.

Posted by: HotNats | June 24, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse


Well I went to the game....It was fun, I guess I am just going to have to accept Acta and like it.......that said, the game changed when the Sox bench challenged home plate ump on balls and strikes. That was the last close call Nats got and it really hurt when Ortiz looked at what should have been strike 3 right before hitting the HR. That is something Acta is going to have to learn.....The Sox fired up the bench and put the ump on notice, it worked anc changed the game in their favor. Acta never and his coaches would never make it outside of Natstown.

Sat with Sox fans....they were fine....little old ladies and men who planned the visit months ago. They have not been in Fenway Park for over 15 years.

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

Well that I guess that is the PLAN
Put together a team so bad that the visiting teams fan can come and feel right at home and be sure of seeing their team win. Why we will change the name of the stadium if you pony up enough money cal it Fenway South if you like. So this is what Stan and the Lerners had in mind when they spoke of the PLAN

Posted by: CBinDC | June 24, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

"hey soul - did you see olsen pitch before going on the DL? he should be the one coming back in middle relief!

Posted by: DCPowerGator | June 24, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse "

They're probably going to give Olsen a chance to get back into the rotation. He's got a higher limit for innings this year, and they will want to give him a shot to lose the job. By the way, Olsen won for Syracuse tonight. Here's his line:
6IP, 8H, 2ER, 1BB, 5K. He's still only got a 5.68 ERA for Syracuse, but he's probably still going to get a shot back in the majors if he continues to show progress.

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

If they are going to bring Matt Chico back they ought to give JD Martin some innings. He looks much better than Chico post Tommy Johns surgery. Right now his performance is the best of all starting pitchers they have in the minor leagues.

Posted by: periculum | June 24, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

According to Boswell that is the plan. Pay off (or service) the debt incurred when the franchise was purchased first, through practiced frugality where like the Orioles, the Nats take advantage of their geographical nearness to other major market teams and fans. Keep the payroll modest to low. Avoid signing expensive Scott Boras clients. No major free agent signings with one or two exceptions to ensure that the team stays above AAA (but not AAAA) level.


Posted by: periculum | June 24, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

but then what about?
Lannan/JD Martin (Syracuse's ace.)
Martis/Mock
Olsen/Stammen
Zimmermann/Balester
Detwiler/Estrada

Hanrahan (too valuable "toolsy" to DFA yet.)

Clippard, Bergmann, McDougal, Beimel, Villone for situational relief.

Could be what the pitching staff will look like toward the end.

Posted by: periculum | June 24, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

This series really revels their real intention from the beginning.
They have had no intention of creating a team for the city of DC to love but a team for the fans of other cities to use and abuse.

Posted by: CBinDC | June 24, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

baltova: "Oy. A changeup, and a badly located changeup at that. Forget the home run, Ortiz is through if he can't get around on a 92 mph fastball. The blame for that one gets shared among Stammen, Nieves, Manny and McCatty. I'd love to know what their pre-series strategy was for pitching to Ortiz. Dibble just said it, they're given him too much respect."

David Ortiz was certainly having trouble catching up to fastballs during the heart of his long slump, but that's not been the case recently. Scouting reports written about him earlier in the year may be due for revision:

Since June 8th, against fastballs, he's hitting .407 and slugging .962 with 4 home runs. That doesn't sound very much like a bat too slow to catch up to cheese.

Posted by: Tom_P | June 25, 2009 2:40 AM | Report abuse

periculum, the acid test is "Will they sign Strasberg?"

If they make that huge investment in a Boras client, Boswell is immediately wrong. I don't want to see them bend over for Boras, but they cannot let him go back into the draft next year. If they do, fans who have supported this team faithfully will rightly feel betrayed and many of them will walk.

Posted by: Tom_P | June 25, 2009 2:45 AM | Report abuse

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