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Nationals Journal: February 21, 2010 - February 27, 2010

What to do with Ian Desmond?

In regard to shortstop Ian Desmond, Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman can make one concrete guarantee. "He's going to play a lot of baseball one way or another," Riggleman said. "He's going to be playing every day at Triple A or...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 27, 2010; 5:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Stephen Strasburg's next step

This morning, Craig Stammen jogged behind the batting cage at Field 1 at the Washington Nationals training complex, darting off to another field to perform his own duties. He looked out to the mound, saw which pitcher was warming...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 27, 2010; 2:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  | Tags: nationals spring training, stephen strasburg  
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Jesus Flores: 'I don't see any opportunity to start Opening Day'

This morning, Jim Riggleman said Jesus Flores's injured right shoulder will not let him play in the initial Nationals spring training games, which is not surprising considering he most often flips the ball to a coach after the ball hits...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 27, 2010; 1:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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A dose of optimism and Nationals links

It says something about where an organization is when the big story on the first day of workouts is that management tells the players it expects them to win. I didn't want to overcook the idea that the Nationals...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 27, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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A goodbye

For the last two years, I have covered the Washington Nationals, and if you want to know more about the low point of that tenure, please reference my name in a Google search. I already know what comes up, same...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 26, 2010; 6:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (88)
 
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Scott Olsen: "I'll be ready" for Opening Day

On Thursday, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman reiterated that lefthander Scott Olsen is assured a spot in the starting rotation if his shoulder is healthy. A day later, Olsen vowed to make the "if" segment of that statement unnecessary. "It's going...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 26, 2010; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Kasten: "We can't ever have excuses"

Team prez Stan Kasten has been in Paneraland since pitchers and catchers reported, but Friday afternoon, Kasten informed the daily media contingent that 1.) he was skipping town for a few days and 2.) he'd be happy to hold court...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 26, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Nationals hold first full squad workout

Your Browser DoesNot Support IFrames. The Nationals gathered as a complete team for the first time this morning in their clubhouse, forming a rectangular ring in their lockers around Stan Kasten, Mike Rizzo, and Jim Riggleman. Each of those three...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 26, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Livan Hernandez makes his return to Nationals

At high noon on Friday, toward the end of the Washington Nationals' first full-squad workout, Livan Hernandez opened the gates to a small bullpen area, performed a few quick balance drills, and promptly took the mound for the first time...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 26, 2010; 2:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Name that player

Here's a little game, a comparison between Nats 2B Adam Kennedy and somebody I'll call a "Very Special Mystery Player." The mystery player is also a second baseman. The mystery player, measured both sabermetrically and with eyes-on scouting, is near-identical...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 26, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (67)
 
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Trainer says Nationals not pursuing Jose Julio Ruiz

In Chico's story about the Nationals' effort to revitalize their international efforts, Stan Kasten said, "We have especially one guy we're very excited about who's very close to the bigs." The player Kasten referred to may have been Rafael Martin,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 26, 2010; 9:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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The gang's all here

For the Nationals, there promises to be a much more focused, upbeat feel to these practices than last year, for reasons pertaining to both talent and a refreshing dearth of federal investigations.

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 26, 2010; 8:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Tags: drew storen, jim riggleman, livan hernandez, spring training, stan kasten  
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Nats sign reliever Rafael Martin from Mexico

Providing a sign of their reemerging presence in Latin America, the Nationals have signed Rafael Martin, a 25-year-old pitcher who is "close to the big leagues," according to team President Stan Kasten. Martin will join Washington's accelerated development camp, which...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 25, 2010; 6:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Nationals: From bad to how much better?

In his column for this morning's birdcage liner about Mike Rizzo's offseason overhaul, Boz sizes up the chances of the Nationals making large enough strides to finish .500. He writes, "Even under best-case scenarios, the Nats probably aren't a .500...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 25, 2010; 5:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Stephen Strasburg impresses again

At some point, Stephen Strasburg's bullpen sessions will just be bullpen sessions and stop existing as newsmaking events. That day is not today. Strasburg threw his third bullpen session of the spring this morning, throwing to Wil Nieves for...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 25, 2010; 3:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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A 'fresh start' at first base for Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn played 67 games at first base last season, and at no point did the position begin to feel like his own. He felt awkward even standing on the right side of the diamond, used to the movements necessary...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 25, 2010; 2:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Update on the Dominican Republic, post-Smiley

A year ago at this time, almost every story written about the Washington Nationals contained some reference to a player named Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez. Smiley, the Nats learned last February, was born in November 1985 -- not, as previously thought,...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 25, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Livan Hernandez, Craig Stammen, and new fathers

Tomorrow, probably right around sunrise, Livan Hernandez will roll into Nats camp, and having seen this act before (he joined the Nats under similar circumstances in late August 2009), I'm already assuming how this will look. Some guys, they even...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 25, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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An introduction to Adam Kilgore

The most appealing thing about being a baseball writer, even better than the summer nights of bat cracks and 6-4-3s, of clubhouse banter and Technicolor sunsets, is the unwritten contract you enter into. Baseball is woven into the hum and...

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 25, 2010; 8:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (56)
 
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Nats sign Livo to minor league deal

Addressing their persistent need for starting rotation depth, the Washington Nationals on Wednesday renewed one of their most enduring relationships, signing right-handed pitcher Livan Hernandez to a minor league deal. Hernandez, who turned 35 last week, will be in camp...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 24, 2010; 1:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (130)
 
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Nationals' roster seems unusually well-defined

In two days, the Washington Nationals will hold their first full-squad workout. In 40 days, the Nationals will play their first game. Normally the period between Practice No. 1 and Game No. 1 causes untold roster contortions, but this year's...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 24, 2010; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Boz on Strasburg

One excerpt from the column: [Pudge] Rodríguez wouldn't gush about the rookie to reporters. Don't jinx him, like Sparky Anderson calling Kirk Gibson "the next Mickey Mantle." But he spilled the beans in private to Nats brass. "I can't repeat...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 24, 2010; 5:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
 
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Bullpen sessions, full-court shots, etc.

Want a sign that this year's Nats camp has a little more harmony? Already 58 of Washington's 60 spring training invitees have arrived at camp. Position players don't report until tomorrow, but already I've spotted every last guy except for...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 23, 2010; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (58)
 
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The classic Nationals prank on Eddie Guardado

Eddie Guardado has been around for 17 big league seasons, experience that grants him a certain license to say whatever comes to mind. As such, even with spring training just days old, those in the Washington Nationals clubhouse have already...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 23, 2010; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (70)
 
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The battered, bruised and repaired shoulder of Jesus Flores

I just filed a story on Jesus Flores, a catcher with an irrepressible good nature and, right now, a very worrisome shoulder. He also had lots to say, and plenty I wanted to print. Only problem: The story was given...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 22, 2010; 5:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (65)
 
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Every day you see something new

Matt Capps, posing with a dog. Give him props for tolerating an unusual request. At least he didn't have to watch this....

By Chico Harlan  |  February 22, 2010; 2:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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A quick post-bullpen chat with Steve McCatty

Scott Olsen might just be the fulcrum of Washington's rotation, for better or worse. If he's healthy, the Nats have three established starters (counting John Lannan and Jason Marquis) in their rotation. If he isn't, the Nats have three big...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 22, 2010; 1:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Viera, Day IV: The Strasburg reports

Good morning from Viera. Let's start things off with a hot cup of randomness. * First, some (very Strasburg-centric) linkage: Here's my fishwrap story on the man, the myth, the 21-year-old... The NYT story... the Philadelphia Inquirer story... and audio...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 22, 2010; 9:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
 
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So, Strasburg, how was your first day of high school?

(photo by Toni Sandys) Commencing their first formal day of spring training, a morning of basic drills for pitchers and catchers, the Washington Nationals divided their players into workout groups, such that Group 2A included right-hander Joel Peralta, left-hander...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2010; 4:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Strasburg's bullpen session

Sunday morning, in a span of eight minutes, Stephen Strasburg threw 37 pitches in a fenced-in practice area behind a labyrinth of ballfields. For Strasburg, the activity was no big deal. For the Washington Nationals, it represented a high-water mark...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2010; 2:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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A great shot, perhaps powered by a hot dog

Saturday afternoon, on the par-3 fourth hole at Duran Golf Club -- just a mile down the road from Space Coast Stadium -- Nationals relief pitcher Tyler Clippard extracted a pitching wedge from his bag and took aim at...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2010; 11:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
 
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Viera, Day III

Three items to start the day here in Viera. First, pitchers and catchers have their first workout today. Stephen Strasburg is throwing a bullpen session. Expect many eyes, cameras, and subsequent NJ reports. I'm excited to watch. Second, Baseball Tonight's...

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2010; 7:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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