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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 runs (one earned) on seven hits and no walks with four strikeouts. He threw 64 of his 85 pitches for strikes. Olsen pitched his best game of this spring, but it remains to be seen if it will be enough to land him a spot with the Nationlas. Sean Burnett will replace Olsen with a man on first. The Nats lead, 9-2.

2:25: The Nationals now lead, 9-2, after four innings. Scott Olsen is coming out for the fifth inning. He has allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits.

1:51: The Nationals hammered the Braves in the second inning. Adam Dunn ripped a two-out single with the bases loaded to score a pair of runs. Prior to that, Ian Desmond drove in a run with an infield single. The Nationals lead, 6-1.

1:24: Scott Olsen allowed one unearned run to go with two hits in his first inning. Adam Dunn booted a a bounding ground ball by Nate McLouth. Martin Prado laced a single to center. Chipper Jones hit what may have been a home run had a strong wind not be blowing in, which scored McLouth.

The Nationals responded in the bottom half with an assault on Scott Proctor. Nyjer Morgan singled, Ian Desmond walked and Ryan Zimmerman roped an oppositive-field home run to right. The Nationals lead, 3-1.

Also, here are today's lineups.

1. Nyjer Morgan, CF
2. Ian Desmond, SS
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam Dunn, 1B
5. Josh Willingham, DH
6. Adam Kennedy, 2B
7. Roger Bernadina, LF
8. Wil Nieves, C
9. Willy Taveras, RF
-- Scott Olsen, SP

1. Nate McLouth, CF
2. Martin Prado, 2B
3. Chipper Jones, 3B
4. Matt Diaz, LF
5. Brent Clevlen, FR
6. Omar Infante, SS
7. Eric Hinske, 1B
8. Clint Sammons, C
9. Joe Thurston, DH
-- Scott Proctor, SP (Tommy Hanson was scratched because of expected bad weather. The Braves didn't want to take a chance he would only throw something like 30 pitches.)

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 28, 2010; 1:17 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Mike Rizzo: Nationals not trying to trade Cristian Guzman
Next: Scott Olsen sweats it out


This is the Nat's formula for sucess: Morgan reach base, get advanced by no. 2, let Zim and AD drive in the run(s). Guzman doesn't take enough pitches to give Morgan a chance to steal or allow himself a chance to take a walk when the ptcher tries to keep Morgan at first. Guzman's salary is a sunk cost and he won't be here next year. His inflexibility at the plate and lack of game sense really facilitated the decision to start Desmond. I was really tired of watching him nonchalant throws on routine plays. Desmond may not be the answer but they need to find out pronto. Guzman could be a useful pinch hitter if he doesn't sulk. Don't think he's a bad guy, ala F. Lopez, but tends to stay inside his shell too much.

Posted by: Natmeister | March 28, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

You might have hit the crux of the biscuit. Riggleman (& the Nationals) need to look forward with players, but they're hedging the bet at SS by keeping Guzman for the time being. Guzman also knows he's playing for his next contract this year, so he should be on best behaviour & doing everything he can to get in the lineup.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Hi, gentle Nats people. Nice game so far. :)

Posted by: Nats_Lady | March 28, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I would imagine most people reading the updates are primarily concerned with one thing today - how is Olsen doing? The box score on has 4 IP 4H 2R 1ER and 2K - would love to get more of an update on how he looks out there....

Posted by: ajtrue78 | March 28, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Good to see you on-board. Olsen's doing a bit of a Jeckyl-Hyde act today, but yes, the score so far looks good.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Bin. Good to be back. Only have audio, so not able to "see" Olsen, of course. Dependent on the Atlanta radio people who are just, for some reason, not that interested in reporting on how Nats pitchers are faring.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | March 28, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I understand that the radar gun is not working, but I hope someone there can give an indication of whether he seems to be getting better velocity.

The man has an option, so send him down to get his strength back. It is worth the $750K if he can regain his form.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 28, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the attempts at Olsen updates, Bin and NatsLady, but I'm hoping the sports journalist who is watching the game in person might decide to give a little Olsen analysis mixed in with all the hitter news.
I'm looking at you, Adam :)

Posted by: ajtrue78 | March 28, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Based on line score alone, I'd hope that Olsen has shown enough to get optioned to SYR, rather than cut. 5IP, 6H, 1ER, 0BB, 3K, 6:5GO/FO.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

BinM- I think that is the right move. The question is when he could make his way back. He would compete with Detwiler, Wang, and Strasburg, along with the roster in DC, if all works well.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 28, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Adam- I have no beef with your output. This was your 5th or 6th post today. Thank you.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 28, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Olsen starting the 6th (grimace); Burnett in for Olsen w/men on base (cringe).

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

OK, little victories - Burnett had a WP & two fly-outs. Just don't bring him back out to start the 7th, PLEASE!

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

From your lips... Caps is in.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | March 28, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

It is comforting that the team is playing much better at the end of the spring. The defense still stinks, but maybe they are getting that in gear slowly, as well.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 28, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Agreed - The error a game average still hangs over this team like a curse. Don't know if we can expect better in the regular season, but we can always hope.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

All right, Capps.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the Braves announcers are more focused on the Braves. I chuckled when one paused several seconds with an apparent what's-the-name-of-the-team-we're-playing? moment.

Good one today. Encouraging signs.

Posted by: KenNat | March 28, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Scott Olsen is no good.

Posted by: Cartaldo | March 28, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Who goes if Bobo Olsen makes the 25-man? I vote Bergy off the island...

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | March 28, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Atilano in for the 8th; Smart move, imo, since both Clippard & Bergmann have been fly-ball pitchers this spring. Looks like Riggleman's playing this one for the win.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes, and who is No. 15??

Posted by: Nats_Lady | March 28, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Bang? Zoom?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

For the Nationals, I believe that would be Christian Guzman.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Atilano has 2.0IP in the books - Bang, Zoom go the fireworks; Woo-Hoo, Nats win, Nats win... Oh, wait a minute - It's only Spring Training. These games don't count; Nevermind.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

+1/2St, having too many pitchers ready to come back in late april/early may is a *GOOD* problem.

i'm not quite sure why i'm seeing that as a negative for keeping olsen in syracuse (and i've seen it a couple of places).

Posted by: sec231 | March 28, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Guzman would be an idiot to sulk. This is his contract year. If he has any prayer of signing a decent deal with anyone next year, he needs to behave. Showing some positional versatility and the ability to pinch hit (switch hitter remember) would help. He could be a great utility player to finish up his career. Paying $8 million for it isn't great, but whatever... I'm just glad we may see 500 big league ABs for Desmond. It would have been silly to send him back to AAA.

As for RF they should platoon Harris and Morse. Bat Harris 2nd v RHP and Desmond there v LHP. In the off season they need to get a hitter to play RF. There is not one decent OF prospect in the minors. Save your breath on Hood and Burgess.


Posted by: db423 | March 28, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

sec231, here's the issue as I see it (which is beer clouded I'll grant you).

Today, Olsen is not one of our best 5 starters.
He *could* be one of the best 5 in the future, but he certainly could not.

He'd not only have to improve and beat out one of the current starters, but he'll be competing with Detwiler, Wang, Strasburg Chico, Martin and Thompson.

Here's one presumption that almost everyone associated with the Nat's is making.

Our rotation will improve during the course of this season.

So, if Olsen's is not good enough to make the rotation today, and the rotation is going to be improving as these guys become available, why would anyone have confidence that Olsen will be able to crack into the *new and improved* rotation?

So here's a question.

If Olsen goes to Syracuse, what are the odds he gets 4 more MLB starts in a Nats uniform in his career?

I'd say less than 50 / 50.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 28, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I think Olsen pitched well enough today to make his million and start the season in Syracuse. I could still see Olsen being cut in a few months if he does not improve, if he does improve then he just adds to the list of pitchers who will be putting pressure on the pitchers with the big club.

With Olsen, Strasburg, Wang, Detwiler, Chico, Martin, Thompson, Zimmermann all doing everything they can to crack the rotation sometime this season, the Nats pitchers know they need to play well if they want to play at all. This competition will only make our team stronger.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 28, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse


If your hypothesis proves true, and Olsen doesn't make it back up to the Nationals' 25-man, where's the harm (except to the Lerners' pocketbook).

So Olsen becomes a rotation pitcher in SYR; Should he make good at AAA, he's an early insurance policy if Mock or Stammen falter, or if Detwiler is slow to recover.

Should all things break in the Nationals' favor (Detwiler & Wang recovering, and Strasburg being "all that & more") to jump past Olsen, then his salary becomes a "sunk cost", and he walks at the end of the year. The Lerners' are out an additional $750k; Consider it an Insurance policy for the back-end of the starting staff.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The one thing Olsen has that many of the other candidates don't? He's proven he can go to the post 30 times in a big league season and be presentable. He did it for three years in a row. They should hang onto him. You don't cut a LHP who can give you 200 innings yet.


Posted by: db423 | March 28, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

If Olsen and Martin end up at Syracuse with Martis, Balester, Chico, and Zinicola, who ends up in Harrisburg, or who gets sent to the pen?

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 28, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

BinM - I'm not disagreeing.
This is not an easy call.
On the one hand, how could you let him walk just to save $750,000? That's a pretty powerful argument right there.
It can make sense to pay him the money just to try and make a deal and get a few more prospects.

Releasing him is by no means necessarily the right thing to do, but at the same time, he might never pitch for you again.

One thing for sure, no matter what Rizzo does, he's gonna be criticized big time! How could he do whatever it is he's gonna choose to do? What a dope.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 28, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

**If Olsen and Martin end up at Syracuse with Martis, Balester, Chico, and Zinicola, who ends up in Harrisburg, or who gets sent to the pen?**

That's one reason why I thought that the Nats would figure out a way to put Olsen on the DL for a few weeks and keep him in the warmer Florida weather on a throwing program.

But that seems unlikely now.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 28, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

This is going to sound like a complete suck-up but I have thoroughly enjoyed the back and forth between Sunderland and BinM - both maker excellent points and there is no negativity - I think you have to keep Olsen, even if its in AAA and he has a track record of 30+ games/season. I actually like the idea of DL along with the warm weather but it will be tough for him to break into the starting 5 unless someone falls apart - he is a nice insurance policy and while its not my money I would keep him

Posted by: sjm3091 | March 28, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

$750,000 isn't the reason to release him, but it's an argument for the FO in favor of not taking all year to acknowledge what they know today.
Last year he was hurt--OK, he's had the surgery, and apparently, it didn't work. Unless you have a pretty good idea of what's wrong now (and it sure sounds like no one does) AND how to fix it, then the most likely scenario is, this is as fixed as he's gonna get, and he's no good to them like this.
Seriously, IF you were convinced this is as good as he'll ever get, you'd cut him now, right?
And there is downside to keeping him around in AAA or AA, as Petey's good question points out. They have an abundance of 4th and 5th starter candidates, they don't need to stockpile them, even cheap ones. As we saw with Hill and Patterson before, it's a distraction. No one is going to give you more than a bag of balls for him now.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 28, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

btw, is Zinicola still slated as a closer?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 28, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

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