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The Center Fielder, the Lineups

Willie Harris became a starting center fielder this week only because Nyjer Morgan fractured his left hand, and that's no way to do it, Harris said on Saturday. Utility players crave regular playing time, sure, but they'd rather earn it with a tear, not a break.

"You don't want anybody to get hurt in order to get a shot to play," Harris said before his second consecutive start. "You want to go out there and play well and earn some at-bats like Ronnie [Belliard] did. He started going out there and swinging the bat well; he earned those at-bats. That's the thing, as utility players, we look forward to. We want to earn those at-bats."

But now Harris has them, and he wants to finish his season with a flourish. In 2008, Harris earned a two-year, $3 million contract after hitting .251 with a career-high 13 home runs. Those numbers correlated with frequent playing time: He had 367 at-bats, and started 87 games. This year, Harris has demonstrated many virtues -- he plays with energy; he prepares; he can handle almost any position -- but the numbers have suffered with sporadic playing time.

Harris, hitting .230 with five home runs through 230 at-bats, believes his play improves with frequent starts. Before the Washington Nationals acquired Morgan on June 30, Harris was actually close to securing the everyday center field job. From June 19 to June 29, Harris started 10 games in a row in center.

"I felt like I was where I wanted to be," Harris said. "And then, I went back to the bench and kind of lost it there. It's difficult. And now hopefully I can get it going here soon again. It might take me a couple games to get it going, but I will."

Asked about goals for finishing the season, Harris nodded emphatically and said, "Oh yeah, I've got my goals. Where I want to finish at. What I want my numbers to be when it's over. Are you asking me what they are? No. Can't tell you that. I'll tell you this: I've got to get going to reach them."

And now the lineups:

Washington

Harris - 8
Guzman - 6
Zimmerman - 5
Dunn - 3
Willingham - 7
Dukes - 9
Orr - 4
Nieves - 2
Stammen - 1

St. Louis

Schumaker - 4
Ryan - 6
Pujols - 3
Holliday - 7
Ludwick - 9
Rasmus - 8
DeRosa - 5
LaRue - 2
Boggs - 1

By Chico Harlan  |  August 29, 2009; 6:46 PM ET
 
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Comments

wonder why belliard isnt starting at 2nd?

Posted by: DCguy7 | August 29, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

caught the bunions from Guz?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

DCguy:
Mostly because Orr is a LH bat, & he hit a RHP pretty well last night. Boggs is another RHP; Go with the hot player.

Posted by: BinM | August 29, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I know that we'll be referring to Nyjer right tp the end, stuff like; "Nyjer would have had that one." Or "Just needed a stolen base. Plush would have been on second." Or a bunt. Or something.

Riggs is going for his job, and 'his' record will be followed.

Can any NJer keep Pre-Nyjer, Nyjer, and Post-Nyjer Wins and Losses?


Posted by: nova_g_man | August 29, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Little competition for the 2B slot?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

G-man: that won't be hard to do. With two changes happening *almost* simultaneously, the question will be did Riggs as manager nurture the teams improvement, or was it Nyjer, Nyjer and Nyjer?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

This LaRue with all the hair--shouldn't he be a Pirate?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

This may be the Big Hearted Ale talking, but I have a feeling Stammen's not going to keep the bullpen out of the game tonight.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 29, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Agree. Stammen not dominating, but he got out of that jam, so good going!

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

(Uh, it's Two Hearted Ale. And, man is it good.)

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 29, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Don't want to be premature, but Orr looking better than peeps here seemed to think.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Why does Pujols touch first base on a pop fly?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you, Nats_Lady. More I see of Pete Orr, the more I think he should have been here all season in place of that dual-headed monster, Angel-Alberto-Hernandez-Gonzalez. How many more errors would Orr have made? How many hustle/heads up plays might he have contributed. Guess he wasn't Manny's kind of player.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I think Ray Knight made a good observation when he said that the Cardinals (and the Rockies) were probably playing the best baseball in the National League right now. My conclusion is that there is no use to beat up on the team for last night's loss, especially looking at how well we played. The defense has turned around, and even Dunn seems to be working out at first base. I hope Jim R can put together a win streak at the end of the season and is offered the manager's post.

Still, we cannot have the pitchers calling their own pitches, whether that's just because they are shaking off the catcher or whatever. If you shake off pitches and make bad pitches with the ones you choose, you should be sent back to the minors. Never in a million years would a catcher like Bench have let a young ahole pitcher shrug him off, then give up bad pitches. He was an alpha dog and would have had his way. I still don't see that kind of leadership in the dugout or on the field that will insist on following the program.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | August 29, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Clearly we don't have an "alpha dog" catcher, and it was remarked we don't have a real promising one in the minors. We are putting all our marbles on Flores.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Willie just as good in the field as I remember (pre-Nyjer). Get that bat going now!

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Um, what channel is the game on? I have Cox Cable in Fairfax.

Posted by: gonats3 | August 29, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Clearly we don't have an "alpha dog" catcher, and it was remarked we don't have a real promising one in the minors. We are putting all our marbles on Flores.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

In that case, you call pitches from the dugout, the manager or the pitching coach, as some other teams do. No excuse for letting the inexperienced pitchers run the show.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | August 29, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

On Cox the game is on channels 3 and 770, based on that last play from Guz you are better off not watching.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 29, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Agreed. I am not sure why McCatty or Riggs isn't doing that.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Trade Guzman. he's made so many errors like that. he's a defensive liability. should've got out of the inning. he's thinking too much, that's a routine play that should be made 100% of the time.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 29, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Craig looks pissed. ;(

Posted by: rachel216 | August 29, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know where to get the game on Comcast in DC? I've got Ravens on MASN (channel 42) and O's on MASN2 (79)

Posted by: erobw | August 29, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Is it me or does Sunshine sound as if he is happy St Louis is winning.

Posted by: CBinDC | August 29, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

There goes the game. Comcast or not.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Good job Guzman!!! 4 unearned runs. bullpen explodes.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 29, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Villone: DFA asap

Posted by: nats24 | August 29, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

erobw- I don't think you want to watch anymore. I'm done watching. guzman pisses me off.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 29, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

At least the runs don't go against Stammen's ERA.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Ha, Rachel. Maybe Guz will hit a grand slam and even it out. :?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow! We would be tied if not for Guzman. UGH GUZMAN!!!!!!

Posted by: rachel216 | August 29, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Well there you go another dinger with no impact ....what a night .... I guess without Nijer they return to their previous condition

Posted by: CBinDC | August 29, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

guess Petey wants to stay here.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

On Cox the game is on channels 3 and 770, based on that last play from Guz you are better off not watching.

Posted by: PowerBoater69

Thank you PowerBoater69.

Posted by: gonats3 | August 29, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

we need to trade guzman. he's a good hitter and all but we need a SS that can play steller defense, he can't. i'd rather have one that can play better defense than he can hit.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 29, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Sunshine did work in the past in the Midwest. He may be secretly cutting a deal to get back. Considering that he was "fired" last season here before being sheepishly brought back, that can hardly be considered a dumb career move. In fact, when Dribble went on the other night about the "four-letter network" (ESPN), Sunshine was notably silent. I think he's done after this year. So's Dibs. This is a graveyard for color men:
Darling-Paciorek-Sutton-Dribble.

Wonder what kind of month-to-month lease Sunshine has at the Eclipse, the place that Bob Carpenter calls home?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

erobw it is on Channel 50 or MASN HD

Posted by: CBinDC | August 29, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know where to get the game on Comcast in DC? I've got Ravens on MASN (channel 42) and O's on MASN2 (79)

Posted by: erobw

Whatever corresponds to broadcast Channel 50.

Posted by: gonats3 | August 29, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, game is on DC-50 which is broadcast (not cable).

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Sunshine has had extra excitement when ever St. Louis has done anything all this night and last.

And he has not been the usual look on the bright side, it's been hey are they not the greatest.

Posted by: CBinDC | August 29, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

You can watch Sosa get lit up.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of Villone and Sosa getting one-way companion tickets to ... wherever. Let Pete Orr pitch.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 29, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, he just went through a blow-by-blow of how great St. L is--auditioning for his next job?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

That error; damn,damn,damn, that being said how does Villone give up a three run bomb to a lefty this game was winnable until Guzman and Villone imploded,Riggs must be seething, you know i like Guzman's bat but his glove is C40!!

Posted by: dargregmag | August 29, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Can we get rid of everyone in the bullpen? no one can get the job done consistently.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 29, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

So much for St. Louis being a low-scoring team (as analyzed pre-game).

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Sunshine Bobby, ending a sixth inning with the score: St. Louis 9, Nationals 3.

"Is the rout on?"

Yes, Sunshine, it is.

Man, this guy is vapid.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

in DC try 23 or HD 214 or MASN 247, if you really want to now......oh brother

Posted by: CBinDC | August 29, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

oh well I think "Are You Being Served?" is about to come on .

Posted by: CBinDC | August 29, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

By my count, Sosa has 13 ER in his last 7 1/3. That's at least one run given up in his last six appearances, and that's not even counting inherited runners.

I'd rather have Sammy Sosa out there on the mound, if he was still on the joose.

Posted by: 202character | August 29, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Damn it, Dukes.

Posted by: 202character | August 29, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

it's square, not a rectangle, tho a square is a rectangle.

i miss dibble.

i will never miss carpenter. ever.

Posted by: nova_g_man | August 29, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh and now MASN again shows it's love for the NATS and DC by pulling the plug on the HD feed.

I guess somebody ran out of quarters.

WHAT an insult is this channel.

Posted by: CBinDC | August 29, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

our bullpen is so embarrassing

Posted by: rachel216 | August 29, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

??? I still have HD on ch. 50.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

This is not a bullpen; it is a giant reclamation project with its five-and-dime roots in the Bowden reign of error. It consists of never was'es (Bergy), over-the-hill types (Villone, Sosa) and guys who were marginal even in their prime but appear to have just lost it (Rivera).

There's Burnett and MacDougal. Everything else is gar-bage, which starts to smell bad after four months in the sun.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

jd--I like Clippard.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Four-for-four Orr. Again, I ask: why wasn't he up here all season? Why did I have to endure Anderson Hernandez for lo those many months?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Knight all but traded Belly-hard.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I will never miss Dibble. I am rather enjoying Ray Knight. He is much more knowledgeable. For Dibble it all comes down to what "worked" for him when he pitched those few years, i.e. an ornery attitude that seems to be attractive around here. Bogus!! Ha!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | August 29, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

@Nats_Lady: You're right. Clip is OK. Live arm, at least. So it's Clip, Burnett and MacDougal, and throw the rest in the garbage bin. With Belly-hard, Kearns, Gonzo.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Is "high" an appropriate level of outrage at MASN for ditching the Nats game for a Ravens preseason game? The Lerners have to do whatever it takes to get out from under the contract with that ridiculous Baltimore channel.

Posted by: ignoreland | August 29, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Dibble tickles me, but Ray Knight is smarter. E.g., the analysis of NOT swinging on the 1st pitch when you are looking at the pitcher who is relieving in a 9-4 game, namely their 10 or 11 level guy on the pitching roster.

(Of course, same applies to who WE put in when we are losing 9-4, you notice Clip, Burnett and MacD are not in the game....)

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Another good analysis by RK on why the intentional walk.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Knight's at his best, IMO, when he honestly shares his criticisms. Dibble's at his best, IMO, when he is a homer rooting for the team. What different styles! I guess there's something for everybody.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | August 29, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Dibble is a shyster. He speaks in code and is a one-trick pony--play hard, pitch inside, hustle, bear down and you play .670 baseball. Knight explains the intracacies, the strengths and weaknesses over every player, and their potential. It's the difference between a fast-food burger and a genuine meal. Dibs gives you all the flash and sizzle. Knight is solid. Like the difference between Bowden and Rizzo.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

46-and-84. We can suck on it, and like it.

Play .500 ball the rest of the way and we still lose 100.

I've got Sept. 22 in the 100-loss pool.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 29, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I have Sept. 16. Even without Nyjer, I might be out of the money. :)

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 29, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

We are NOT going to lose 100. You heard it here first. Mets will be imploding and Phils will be coasting.

Posted by: paulkp | August 29, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Why haven't we heard anything about the health of Jeff Kobernus, down in GCL or was it NYP? I'm a Berkeleyite, and after he went down after 10abs or so, there's been silence.

Posted by: clarquito | August 29, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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