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Nationals Journal: March 28, 2010 - April 3, 2010

Scott Olsen 'blown away' by decision, intent on return

To say that Scott Olsen was surprised today when the Nationals sent him to Class AAA Syracuse would be an understatement. "We were pretty blown away," said Matt Sosnick, Olsen's agent, in a telephone conversation. Olsen had been competing at...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 3, 2010; 10:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Pitching rotation , Scott Olsen  
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Nationals finish spring training with a loss

Starting Monday, the games count. The Washington Nationals' 6-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park was the team's final exhibition game before Monday's season opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, even though the game was played in Washington...

By Zach Berman  |  April 3, 2010; 8:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Saturday's Lineups

It should be a good crowd here at Nationals Park entering Saturday's exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox. Here are your lineups in your final look at the Nationals before the game counts: Washington Nationals Morgan (L) -- CF...

By Zach Berman  |  April 3, 2010; 3:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Garrett Mock named fifth starter; Nationals to keep eight relievers

Manager Jim Riggleman named Garrett Mock the Nationals' fifth starter -- choosing the right-hander over lefty Scott Olsen -- and named the Nationals' bench on Saturday afternoon. Olsen was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse along with outfielder Roger Bernadina. Infielder...

By Zach Berman  |  April 3, 2010; 3:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Nationals spring awards and morning links

The first version of the Nationals 25-man roster will take shape later today, when Jim Riggleman announces the final decisions, including the No. 5 starter. I am traveling back from Florida, and Zach Berman will keep you updated from Nationals...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 2, 2010; 7:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
 
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Nationals headed home

As they packed their bags and dressed in suits, the prevailing sentiment in the Nationals clubhouse was, "It's about time." They are ready to fly north to Washington and say goodbye to Florida. They finished out their Grapefruit League scheduled...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 2, 2010; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Updates: Nationals at Red Sox

I'll provide periodic updates. ... 4:27: The Red Sox beat the Nationals, 7-2. Sorry for the wait on this last one; I was down in the clubhouse. The Nationals finished off their Grapefruit League schedule 10-19, meaning they went 10-8...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 2, 2010; 2:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (103)
 
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The Nationals will decide on their roster tomorrow

As Nationals-Red Sox begins, some quick notes: *The Nationals will decide their final roster by tomorrow and announce it either before or after their game, Manager Jim Riggleman said. It sounded like the final decisions will be whether to carry...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 2, 2010; 1:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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What today's start means for Scott Olsen

When the Nationals decided Wednesday to keep Scott Olsen in their oganization, it came as little relief to the left-hander. He had other concerns. "All I've been worrying about is making the team," Olsen said yesterday. "I wasn't worried about...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 2, 2010; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Today's lineup

The Nationals are set to play the Red Sox in City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, where, incidentally, some Nationals officials have been poking around the ballpark that the Red Sox will desert following the 2011 spring. President Stan...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 2, 2010; 12:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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A Nationals roster guess and morning links

By about 11:30 tonight, the Nationals' team plane will have landed in Washington, and by that time the decisions have been made, if not announced. Here's what I think they'll be, minor final roster guess of the spring. I'm going...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 2, 2010; 9:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Tracee Hamilton hosts Q&A on the Nats today at 9:30 a.m.

In case you haven't noticed yet, sports columnist Tracee Hamilton now hosts a daily chat each morning. It's called First Things First, and today she's talking about the Nats. Here are her opening thoughts: "A great spate of April Fools...

By Sports editors  |  April 2, 2010; 7:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Cristian Guzman, right fielder

Cristian Guzman may no longer be the Nationals everyday shortstop, but Manager Jim Riggleman is still adamant about finding him regular playing time. Another indication of that came today in the ninth inning of the Nationals' 9-3 victory over the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 1, 2010; 6:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (60)
 
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Nationals win, Adam loses

Sorry for today's absence of game updates. For some reason, my laptop and the wireless in the press box in Port St. Lucie did not get along today. Frank Robinson and Tomo Ohka had a better working relationship. Now that...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 1, 2010; 4:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Bog: The Nationals are officially a longshot

From Dan Steinberg's D.C. Sports Bog: At 75-1, the Nationals have the longest odds in the Majors to reach the World Series, according to Bodog. The team's odds to win the World Series are listed at 150-1, tied with the...

By Alexa Steele  |  April 1, 2010; 3:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Today's lineup and the state of Monday's roster

The Nationals are facing the Mets today with a lineup that, if you slot John Lannan in on the mound, will likely be identical to the one you see opening day. Nationals 1. Nyjer Morgan, CF 2. Willie Harris, RF...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 1, 2010; 12:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (50)
 
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To start in right field, it's going to be Willie and Willy

The right-handed piece of the Nationals' platoon in right field will be Willy Taveras, according to Manager Jim Riggleman. Mike Morse will still have a place with the team, Riggleman said, but more often as a threat off of the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 1, 2010; 12:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
 
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Matt Capps's rough spring and morning links

Each time Matt Capps seemed poised to let his pitching announce him ready for the season and the Nationals' closer role, along came an outing like yesterday. He allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in one inning....

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 1, 2010; 9:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Willie Harris's tough day: 'It felt like a football lick'

In the first inning today, Willie Harris chased a fly ball along the left field line. Just as he arrived at the foul line, he realized he had overran the ball. He reached back, tripped, and fell awkwardly. Harris stayed...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 31, 2010; 7:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Cristian Guzman plays second, Ian Desmond plays shortstop, and they get along fine

As the Nationals took batting practice this afternoon, Ian Desmond and Cristian Guzman jogged toward the middle of the diamond. They had stood on infields together for five years, but never like this. Desmond manned shortstop, Guzman second base. Nationals...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 31, 2010; 6:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Cristian Guzman , Ian Desmond  
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The importance of the fifth starter

Before we get into why the winner of the Scarrett Olock Sweepstakes may not matter for long, head over to Baseball Insider and check out Sheinin's picks contest. The Nationals this morning whittled their choices for their fifth starter down...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 31, 2010; 2:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Updates: Nationals at Cardinals

I'll provide periodic updates. ... 4:10: The Nationals beat the Cardinals, 9-6, in a game in which they pounded 15 hits. Ian Desmond made two errors but smacked three hits. John Lannan threw 59 pitches in five innings, pitching with...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 31, 2010; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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In Altoona, Stephen Strasburg 'moves the needle'

On Monday, Matt Hoover learned first-hand something pretty obvious about Stephen Strasburg. "When it comes to tickets," Hoover said, "he really moves the needle." Hoover would know. He is the director of ticket sales and promotions for the Altoona Curve,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 31, 2010; 10:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Even Rick Eckstein has his limits

As you can read in today's paper, Rick Eckstein is one terrific hitting coach. But he's no miracle worker, as evidenced by his newest pupil: me. Eckstein let me tag along with him for a couple hours Monday morning, for...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 31, 2010; 8:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Garrett Mock loses his grip

March 15, I think, was the first time Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman mentioned Garrett Mock's name in the same vein as John Lannan and Jason Marquis. It was not the last, and each time the point was clear. Lannan and...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 30, 2010; 8:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Garrett Mock  
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Updates: Nationals at Marlins

I'll provide periodic updates. ... 4:43 (postgame): It turns out Cristian Guzman did play an inning of second base. He snuck it in while reporters were in the clubhouse talking to Garrett Mock. Apologies for the confusion. 4:13: The Nationals...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 30, 2010; 1:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Depth at catcher, Cristian Guzman in the infield

Claimed yesterday by the Nationals, Chris Coste traveled to Jupiter (town, not planet) and he should play this afternoon. The Mets waived Coste, who became the victim of a numbers crunch at catcher. "I haven't had a chance to communicate...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 30, 2010; 12:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Today's lineups

A little hard to believe, but the Nationals are into the home stretch of spring training. They won't again in Space Coast Stadium, and they've got four games left in Florida before their Saturday exhibition against the Red Sox at...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 30, 2010; 10:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Ian Desmond's time and morning links

Every team has its big-time, can't miss prospects, the players whose feats in minor league outposts are often whispered about but rarely seen, the players whose promise fills fans with hope. For the entire existence of the Washington Nationals, that...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 30, 2010; 8:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Nationals claim catcher Chris Coste

The Nationals claimed catcher Chris Coste off of waivers from the New York Mets, a minor move aimed at shoring up their catching depth. With Jesus Flores still rehabbing his shoulder injury, the Nationals needed an extra catcher in their...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 29, 2010; 4:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Stephen Strasburg's first start will be April 11 in Altoona

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo says pitcher Stephen Strasburg will make his minor league debut April 11 in Altoona. The Nationals announced on March 20 that Strasburg will begin the year in the minor leagues, in Class AA Harrisburg. His...

By Alexa Steele  |  March 29, 2010; 3:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Stephen Strasburg won't pitch Saturday at Nationals Park

Stephen Strasburg's schedule is aligned for him to pitch April 3, the same day the Nationals play an exhibition in Nationals Park against the Red Sox. The timing led to speculation Strasburg may pitch, but Manager Jim Riggleman squashed the...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 29, 2010; 2:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Craig Stammen , Pitching rotation , Stephen Strasburg  
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A rainy day and the Nationals rotation

So much rain collected on the field at Space Coast Stadium that, "Viera's got some new lakes," Nationals reliever Jason Bergmann said. So no game today, but the weather couldn't prevent today from being one of the more consequential days...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 29, 2010; 2:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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President Obama will throw out first pitch Opening Day at Nationals Park

President Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day at Nationals Park, continuing a tradition that began 100 years ago and making him the second sitting president to throw the pitch since baseball returned to Washington in...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 29, 2010; 11:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (79)
Tags: Opening Day, President Obama, first pitch  
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More on the Ian Desmond decision and morning links

When the Nationals signed Adam Kennedy this offseason, Ian Desmond wondered what that meant for him. Weren't they going to try to Cristian Guzman at second base? Wasn't shortstop finally going to be open? Desmond let those thoughts bounce around...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 29, 2010; 7:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Cristian Guzman , Ian Desmond , middle infield  | Tags: Adam Kennedy, Cristian Guzman, Ian Desmond  
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Scott Olsen sweats it out

The only thing left for Scott Olsen now is the waiting, all quiet moments and nasty thoughts. Within three days, the Nationals will decide if they want to carry him in their organization. If they do, they'll pay him $1...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 28, 2010; 4:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Pitching rotation , Scott Olsen  | Tags: pitching rotation, scott olsen, spring training  
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Updates: Nationals vs. Braves

I'll provide periodic updates. ... 3:07: Matt Capps pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, an encouraging sign. Capps is starting to get himself on track after a rocky start to spring. 2:48: Scott Olsen is done for the day after allowing two...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 28, 2010; 1:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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Mike Rizzo: Nationals not trying to trade Cristian Guzman

With the Nationals naming Ian Desmond their starting shortstop, former starter Cristian Guzman became expendable. At this point, though, the Nationals are not actively involved in trade talks regarding Guzman, General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "We haven't had any discussions...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 28, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Justin Maxwell sent to Syracuse

Before the big news this morning, there was some other news. The Nationals optioned outfielder Justin Maxwell to Class AAA Syracuse, thinning the competition for right field and delivering a setback to Maxwell's stalled career. Both Maxwell, an Olney native,...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 28, 2010; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Ian Desmond named Nationals starting shortstop

The Washington Nationals made perhaps their biggest and boldest decision of this spring training by choosing 24-year-old rookie Ian Desmond as their starting shortstop over incumbent Cristian Guzman, the lone position player remaing from the franchise's first lineup upon arriving...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 28, 2010; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Making decisions and morning links

By tomorrow morning, the Nationals will have made a final decision on at least their first four starters for the regular season. Craig Stammen's spot seems secure. Scott Olsen, today's starter against the Braves, is seemingly down to his last...

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 28, 2010; 7:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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