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Nationals Journal: March 14, 2010 - March 20, 2010

The trouble with Cristian Guzman's arm

Jim Riggleman had been waiting to see Cristian Guzman make a throw that would test his shoulder, that would prove him - and to Guzman - that his arm had strengthened enough to render moot the shoulder surgery he had...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 20, 2010; 4:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Matt Chico's demotion, Cristian Guzman's view on the shortstop job, Nyjer Morgan's hamstring and Jamie Burke's surgery

Matt Chico entered the spring in competition for a spot in the Nationals' rotation, but even he knew that he was, at best, a dark horse. He had not pitched in the majors since the middle of 2008, when he...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 20, 2010; 3:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Better late than never for Drew Storen

Drew Storen arrived at his first spring training with the Washington Nationals with a clear goal. He wanted to make the team. He had signed his first contract early, the day after the Nationals drafted him last June. He pitched...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 20, 2010; 2:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Mapping out Stephen Strasburg's season

We know now where Stephen Strasburg will start his maiden season with the Washington Nationals organization. He is going to spend the first earnest moments of his professional career as a Class AA Harrisburg Senator. What we don't know yet...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 20, 2010; 1:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen to start in Class AA Harrisburg

The inevitable became official this morning when the Nationals optioned phenom Stephen Strasburg to Class AA Harrisburg, meaning baseball's best pitching prospect will not join the Nationals until late spring or midsummer. Joining him in Harrisburg will be closer Drew...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 20, 2010; 8:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
 
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Today's lineup (UPDATED)

Garrett Mock will start for the Nationals today against the Marlins. With their victory last night against a collection of Cardinals minor leaguers, the Nationals, at 3-12, are actually just two games from being out of last place in the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 20, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Stephen Strasburg's striking preference: groundball outs

Three starts, 9 innings, 149 pitches and 1 at-bat into his Washington Nationals career, Stephen Strasburg has basically been everything the Nationals hoped he would be. For a bounty of reasons, Strasburg will certainly not be starting the season in...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 11:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Updates: Cardinals at Nationals

I'll provide periodic updates. ... 10:27: I was down in the clubhouse when the game ended. The Nationals won, 13-5, upping their record to 3-12. 9:19: Chris Duncan delivered a two-run single to right in the sixth. The Nationals lead...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 7:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Josh Willingham scratched with minor ailment

Left fielder Josh Willingham was originally in the lineup tonight, but he had to be scratched with a stiff neck. He slept on his neck wrong. The ailment is nothing major, but Willingham is not currently in tomorrow's lineup, either....

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 5:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Nyjer Morgan feels fine, but he's out until at least Monday

Nationals centerfielder Nyjer Morgan says he could play tonight despite a tight hamstring, but the Nationals trainers feel differently. Morgan will return Monday at the earliest at the behest of trainer Lee Kuntz, Manager Jim Riggleman said. "Right now, I...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Livan Hernandez's next start a clue for Stephen Strasburg's immediate future

Livan Hernandez started in a minor league game this afternoon, and his action from now on this spring will come on the major league side of camp. Hernandez has been throwing on the same day as Stephen Strasburg, who will...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 4:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Willie Harris will be the Nationals' opening day right fielder, but then what?

In the wake of Elijah Dukes's surprising release, the Nationals remain in the process of divvying out playing time right field. They have one answer already: Willie Harris will start on opening day, Manager Jim Riggleman said. The Nationals chose...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 4:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Ian Desmond and Cristian Guzman in 'open competition'

Manager Jim Riggleman today offered the clearest proclomation to date that the Nationals will give Ian Desmond, the breakout start of Nationals spring training, the opportunity to beat out incumbent shortstop Cristian Guzman for the starting position. "i think it's...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 3:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Ian Desmond  
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Today's lineups

If tonight really is going to be Stephen Strasburg's final start with the Nationals' big league camp in spring training, then he'll be getting a nice head start on his short-lived life as a minor leaguer. Check out the split-squad...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 2:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Almost halfway home, a look at the Nationals numbers

After their only off day of the spring, the Nationals stand at 2-12, a record they believe means pretty much nothing. The Nationals are saying March matters only in terms of getting players in shape and making sure the players...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
 
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Stephen Strasburg's likely last start for now and morning links

Stephen Strasburg is going to make his third start tonight, and I'll bet he doesn't make another with the Nationals until sometime in late May or June. (I'm not the only one.) In case you missed it, Sheinin provided an...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Zech Zinicola returned to Nationals

Right-handed reliever Zech Zinicola, taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft, returned to the Nationals today because of Rule 5 guidelines. The Blue Jays did not choose to carry him on their 40-man roster. Zinicola, 25,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 18, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Everyday Adam Dunn

That Adam Dunn took an hour bus ride yesterday with a bad back so he could try to play speaks to something essential about him as a baseball player. He really, really likes to play. Dunn has played in 950...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 18, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Why the timing of Strasburg's MLB debut is so important

The only question that really matters with the Nationals right now (and the one I've heard everywhere I've been this spring) is this: When will Stephen Strasburg be in the majors? I'm not going to be able to answer that...

By Dave Sheinin  |  March 18, 2010; 9:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
 
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The surprise ending for Elijah Dukes and the Nationals

When the union between Elijah Dukes and the Washington Nationals first commenced, it seemed like it would end only after some kind of combustion. All of those tools and talents packed inside Dukes were going to explode and make him...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 18, 2010; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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A rough one for Jason Marquis, and others

Nationals starter Jason Marquis relies on feel when he pitches, like most any sinkerball pitcher, and right now he has none. Marquis, slated to be the No. 2 starter, lasted only 3 1/3 innings today in his second start of...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 17, 2010; 5:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Adam Dunn misses game because of back stiffness

Despite being scratched from today's game, Adam Dunn is fine and plans to play Friday. Before the Nationals' 11-2 loss to the Houston Astros today, Dunn took batting practice and fielded groundballs. His name was on the lineup card. But...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 17, 2010; 5:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Updates: Nationals at Astros

I'll provide periodic updates. ... 2:45: Jason Marquis, the Nationals' projected No. 2 starter, lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs, eight hits and four walks while striking out one. The Nationals trail, 9-2, after closer Matt Capps allowed a...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 17, 2010; 1:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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Elijah Dukes released (updated)

The Nationals this morning granted outfielder Elijah Dukes, a player brimming with potential yet haunted by a controversial past he had seemingly moved beyond, his unconditional release. "Everyone in Elijah's camp is surprised," said Dukes's attorney, Grady Irvin. Manager Jim...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 17, 2010; 10:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (173)
 
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Washington Nationals' starting rotation now and in the future

While Sheinin wrote about a big piece of the Nationals' past this morning, I had a thought about their future. By now, it seems like the Nationals have a pretty good idea of what they want their starting rotation to...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 17, 2010; 7:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Chien-Ming Wang , Garrett Mock , Jason Marquis , John Lannan , Livan Hernandez , Scott Olsen , Stephen Strasburg  
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The Nationals break through, win two

Craig Stammen and John Lannan room together during spring training, and before they left their apartment this morning they shared a quick message. "We told each other, 'We're getting two today,' " Lannan said. Lannan boarded a bus for Jupiter,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 16, 2010; 6:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Tags: Craig Stammen, John Lannan  
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Michael Burgess's lost weight and Destin Hood's lost title

This January, Destin Hood watched an epic celebration he could have been part of. The University of Alabama had won college football's national championship. He had several friends on the team, and if he had made a different choice 16...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 16, 2010; 5:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Adam Dunn leaves with back spasm, considered day-to-day

First baseman Adam Dunn left the Nationals split-squad game against the Marlins today with a back spasm. The Nationals classified him as day-to-day. With an off day Thursday, it's a good bet the Nationals will simply let Dunn rest until...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 16, 2010; 2:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Updates: Nationals at Cardinals

I'll provide periodic updates. ... 3:47: After the Nationals lost their first 11 games this spring, they have won two games this afternoon. While the split squad in Viera beat the Marlins 12-3, the team in Jupiter beat the Cardinals,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 16, 2010; 1:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Nationals personnel department

A few quick comings and goings from Jupiter: *Cristian Guzman is scheduled to pinch hit today in Viera and then start at shortstop tomorrow. Jim Riggleman still wants to see Guzman throw at full strength during a game to prove...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 16, 2010; 12:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Nyjer Morgan out until at least Friday with 'tweaked' hamstring

Already fighting a slow offensive start to spring training, Nationals centerfielder and leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan will not play until at least Friday with a pulled hamstring. Morgan "tweaked himself a little bit," Manager Jim Riggleman said, while running out...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 16, 2010; 11:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Today's lineups

The Nationals are playing two split-squad games today, one in Jupiter (town, not planet) against the Cardinals and one at Space Coast Stadium against the Marlins. That's two chances to notch their first victory of the spring. I will be...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 16, 2010; 10:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Garrett Mock's likely rotation spot and morning links

Yesterday afternoon, Manager Jim Riggleman said the competition had not reached a point where he felt comfortable choosing his five starting pitchers. He had an interesting way of answering that question in regard to Garrett Mock. "We're pretty confident up...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 15, 2010; 10:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Garrett Mock  
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Too early for Matt Capps to worry

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 15, 2010; 10:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Latest on Jesus Flores, Cristian Guzman, Chien-Mien Wang

The Braves are beating the Nationals, 2-0, through three and a half innings. Garrett Mock is settling down after a rough start, which including a missile of a solo home run by Martin Prado. Derek Lowe has no-hit the Nationals...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 15, 2010; 7:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Taking stock of the Nationals bullpen

When the Nationals released Ron Villone on Monday, they made it slightly easier to envision the ultimate makeup of their bullpen. "I think it's beginning to come into focus, the bullpen and roles," general manager Mike Rizzo said. But there's...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 15, 2010; 7:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Today's lineup

The Nationals are playing the Atlanta Braves tonight in a game that will be broadcast on MASN. Sorry for the delay with this; I've been working on a couple posts that I'll throw up here during the game. Since the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 15, 2010; 6:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Villone, Balester among latest cuts

The Nationals made another round of cuts today, slashing six pitchers in a move that brought some clarity to the potential makeup of the starting rotation and bullpen and cleared the way for the remaining contenders to pitch a needed...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 15, 2010; 4:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Ross Detwiler off crutches, still on schedule

Yesterday morning, I noticed something new for this spring. Ross Detwiler was hobbling around in front of the Nationals dugout without any crutches. It was his second day without them, which he was pleased about. "I'm able to move around,"...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 15, 2010; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
 
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How significant is a bad (or good) spring training?

The recent correlation between spring training success and regular-season success is pretty weak. Before the Yankees won the World Series last year, they won the Grapefruit League. In spring training 2008, the Rays won the Grapefruit with an 18-8 record,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 15, 2010; 9:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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The Nationals are 0-10. Who cares?

The Nationals' losing streak hit a nice, fat round number today with a 7-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. It included all the hallmarks of ugly baseball. They walked 11 -- E-L-E-V-E-N -- batters. Ron Villone had an inning...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 14, 2010; 6:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Updates: Nationals vs. Cardinals

I'll provide periodic updates. ... (This is video of Stephen Strasburg's first at-bat against Skip Schumaker.) 4:07 The Nationals lost, 7-3, and dropped to 0-10 for the spring. Brian Bruney had a rocking-chair, 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, and the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 14, 2010; 1:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Preparing for Stephen Strasburg's second start

Just a couple pre-game notes while wondering what would bring more joy to Nationals fans than Stephen Strasburg striking out Felipe Lopez today: *The Nationals want to pin the fourth and fifth starters by about March 24. That way, those...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 14, 2010; 12:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Today's lineup

Elijah Dukes is indeed back in the Nationals lineup today after missing yesterday with a sore toe on his left foot. Stephen Strasburg is going to pitch for a second time, and again he'll be throwing to Wil Nieves. Ivan...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 14, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo: 'Money has nothing to do with who's going to play'

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said this morning that performance, and not financial considerations will, dictate the immediate future of Nationals players and the composition of the Nationals will be made with a simple primary aim: "We're going to...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 14, 2010; 9:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Looking back and linking up

Never had a chance to wrap up the Nationals loss to the Astros yesterday in Kissimmee, and here's a quick recap of what was important. The Good: The Nationals' two best players this spring, one position player and one pitcher,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 14, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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