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Easy like Sunday morning

Every day, Jim Riggleman focuses on one fundamental piece of team defense and then runs the Nationals through the drill. Yesterday, as you see above, they worked on run downs. Elijah Dukes sent the team into stitches at one point, when he avoided a tag by stopping and dropping to his chest. "I didn't want to break that one out so early," Dukes said.

This morning, be sure to read Dave Sheinin's moving piece about new closer Matt Capps coming to Washington following the death of his father. Despite Capps's 5.80 ERA and eight losses last year, Riggleman has annointed him the likely closer. But Riggleman also wants Brian Bruney and Sean Burnett prepared. "In an ideal situation, I'd like for all three of those guys to be comfortable pitching in the ninth inning," Riggleman said. "Somebody has to take the ball that first day or two, whenever we get a lead in the ninth. But as we go, I want other people to be comfortable with the ball in the ninth inning."

Elsewhere, Willie Harris feels irked about not being able to compete for an everyday job. Josh Willingham didn't arrive yesterday, and he may not for a few days after the birth of his son last Tuesday night. Mike Rizzo shared some thoughts about 2010. Old friend Felipe Lopez surfaced with a one-year contract to play for the Cardinals. Joe Beimel says he won't be back with the Rockies and is weighing an offer from the Mets. Last year, he didn't sign with the Nationals until March 18.

The New York Post rolls out its Stephen Strasburg story. Here's guessing you might see several more of these as spring churns along. Yesterday, Strasburg said he has not been surprised by the attention he's receiving from the media and that he appreciated how the Nationals media relations staff helped prepare him. Strasburg is polite in interviews and stays miles away from controversy or self-praise. Take away his answers to reporters, and Strasburg is one of the quietest players in the clubhouse, acting like any other rookie until he takes the mound (or checks his bank statement). Teammates have noticed his deferential approach.

"He's been dealing with that stuff for two years," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "It's unfortunate that he has to deal with it, because it shouldn't be that way. He hasn't done anything, and now he's got to deal with everything already. But, you know, he handles it well. He's a nice kid. He works hard.

"He handles it the right way. Obviously, he's conscious of all the veteran guys around here. He knows what he's doing. He's a good kid."

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 28, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
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Next: 'Personal matter' keeping Josh Willingham home


The NYP story has some interesting tidbits* I don't recall seeing elsewhere, e.g., he's not going to pitch on the road, only at home. Not a bad idea, considering his starts will be limited to keep his innings down.
But then there's this: "'They had some really good deals in San Diego for a winter wedding,' said Strasburg, who got married Jan. 9. 'We got a winery for like half the price.'" Oh, man, I can hear it now: Strasburg is Cheap.

*as opposed to a factoid, which is, by definition, not true.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 28, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Lots of posts since Mr. Kilgore took over. Now a post Sunday 8:30AM. Outstanding.

Posted by: joemktg1 | February 28, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

The NYP piece was interesting. It's nice to have some non-negative buzz around the team on the national level (heck, on the local level, even) for a change.

Re. post quantity, more is great, but, picking up on sec3's cliche advice from an earlier post: pace yourself, Kilgore. It's a marathon, not a sprint. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 28, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Great stuff, AK 2.0.

Have you had a chance to talk with Guzzie yet? Or is he one of those guys who doesn't talk with the media? (Yeah, I know there's a language barrier too.) Wonder what his mental and physical state is. Hard to tell with the warmup jacket and maybe it's just wishful thinking, but it looks like he's in good shape.

And how about Lannan? Used to look like an accountant, now he looks like a ballplayer! I know there's not always a direct correlation--sometimes accountant-looking guys can be good pitchers--but still a good sign...

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | February 28, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I don't know, I always thought Greg Maddox looked like an accountant, especially before he had his eyes done.

Posted by: luxetveritas | February 28, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I loved Sheinin's story on Capps and his dad.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 28, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Nice work Adam! You had me at easy.

Posted by: tommy11599 | February 28, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Utley wears Lannan out.

Posted by: Section314 | February 28, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Spring Training, a time for unbridled optimism (.500 if all goes well.) I really like what the front office has done in the offseason. Could they have done a little more sure. However, they addressed specific needs and did not wildly overpay for anyone. Yeah, i'm talking about you Orlando Hudson!! Yes, the payroll is still low, but they have positioned themselves well to add players if they are in contention come July. Also, no one has been signed to a long term deal which can tie a teams hands for many years. I think that is the smart (not cheap) way to run a team. Also, as the team improves, it will become easier to sign top free agents. I can't wait to see the finished product.BTW, I hope everyone had a great winter and lets hope for better things to come.

Posted by: chris88 | February 28, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse
Utley wears Lannan out.
Posted by: Section314 | February 28, 2010 11:25 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 28, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Please promise this will be the last mention of our "old friend." I am still working on blocking those days out of my memory.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | February 28, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Nice seeing Jesus Flores's 3-run game-winner, too.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 28, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

sec3mysofa, fyi, i've seen the tidbit about only starting at home a number of times from a few different sources.

Posted by: sec231 | February 28, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"Oh, man, I can hear it now: Strasburg is Cheap."

Ah Ha! So THAT's why Uncle Teddy signed him! :)

Great posts AK (initials henceforth to be associated exclusively with our beat writer, not a sadly disappointing player). Is there any chance that SS's first start will be broadcast? I know it isn't scheduled by the Angelos network, but given the interest level, it should be.

Posted by: NatsFly | February 28, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I hope this keeps up, the more info the better I say. How bout all that red in the video snippet, like that. Ditto to the Sheinin piece on Capps.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 28, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

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