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Wrapping up another spring loss for the Nationals

The Nationals fell to 0-8 this afternoon with a 6-4 loss to the Cardinals, but at least their team ERA dropped to 10.21. General Manager Mike Rizzo today shared his view that they shouldn't even bother keeping stats in spring training. The sentiment is rational, but you also wonder if the constant losing will have an effect.

Matt Capps, the likely opening day closer, did not pitch a scoreless inning for the third consecutive outing. He allowed two runs on two hits, and he's allowed five earned runs in three innings this spring. Asked if he was concerned, Manager Jim Riggleman said, "Not really, no."

The leadoff triple Capps allowed would have been a routine fly ball if Justin Maxwell had not lost it off the bat, Riggleman said. But the double that followed from Allen Craig was blistered. Once Capps got that out of the way, the inning was smooth, including one strikeout.

"He threw strikes," Riggleman said. "He threw well."

With J.D. Martin and Garrett Mock each throwing three innings - they both allowed a pair of runs - the Nationals ran out of innings before Drew Storen could pitch. He was scheduled to throw today. Instead, he got four free hours of bus riding and will pitch tomorrow against Houston at home. Storen not pitching is one good reason why the Nationals will make some cuts before the starters rotate through again.

Adam Dunn went 2 for 3 with a pair of well-hit singles and Justin Maxwell hit his first home run of the spring on an 0-2 pitch. Chris Duncan went 0 for 5 in an odd game for him: He played against his old team and his father, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Before the game, Duncan embraced several former teammates and chatted with his dad behind the batting cage. "Baseball stuff," Chris Duncan said.

"It was fun," Duncan said. "I got to see all the guys. It was good see him and see everybody, good to get a chance to play against him."

Duncan is vying for a spot on the 25-man roster while trying to recapture the swing that allowed him to hit 22 home runs for the Cardinals in 306 at-bats in 2006. Duncan is most similar to Mike Morse, whose strong spring and vast upside has made him an excellent bet to make the team. Duncan and Morse can both play first base and outfield (although Morse is a better defender who also plays third and, in a pinch, shortstop). But Duncan is left-handed, and if he can prove he's still got some of those home runs left in his bat, then maybe he's good option. (So far, he's hitting .133.) Riggleman said he could envision both Duncan and Morse making the team.

"When you're scribbling out rosters on napkins, there are some scenarios when he's there," Riggleman said. "And there are some scenarios when he's not."

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 10, 2010; 5:49 PM ET
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Next: One man's Nationals roster guess and links


Thanks for the wrap up piece, Adam. I'm finding myself oddly at peace with the losses to date; Perhaps because I see progress being made, but more likely because I've become delusional.

There are still more questions than answers for this team, but the offensive side looks to be coming around, as do a piece or two of the pitching staff (we'll know more about that as ST wears on).

I'd still like to see better defensive range in the middle infield, but Desmond is making a solid early case for making the final 25-man, and Bruntlett seems to have a slight edge on Orr & AGonz, so maybe there's hope there as well.

Posted by: BinM | March 10, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

>General Manager Mike Rizzo today shared his view that they shouldn't even bother keeping stats in spring training. The sentiment is rational, but you also wonder if the constant losing will have an effect.

You mean four years of getting your ass kicked? It already has. On the fans.

Posted by: Brue | March 10, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

was going to comment on the previous post, but Calling for SS to start the year because we HAVE to put the BEST TEAM NOW is irresponsible. 2 months of SS now is not worht 1 year of SS 4 years from now. We have a responsibility to put the best team forward then also.

What, you think SS will re-sign with the KC Royals of the NL?

Posted by: swang30 | March 10, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Some1 better tell Mr. Rizzo that Wins and Losses matter. Bowden never woulda gotten away with such a dumb statement. When did Rizzo become Mr. Teflon around here?

Oh and BTW thanks for addressing the Nats needs in the offseason buy signing ONE--that's ONE veteran starting pitcher. Silly me, I thought you needed 5--that's FIVE starting pitchers in a major league rotation.
Who are the Nats 5? Oh that's right-- no one knows. But what a great offseason by Rizzo.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 10, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

and yet, if they finish April near .500, moods in here will improve markedly.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 10, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

If they finish .400 in April, it will be a miracle - they haven't done it since 2005:

2009 = 5-16 .238
2008 = 9-17 .346 (include March - 11-17 .393
2007 = 9-17 .346
2006 = 8-17 .320
2005 = 13-11 .542

Posted by: VladiHondo | March 10, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Plus the April schedule is tough, Philly 6 times, Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, Brewers, Mets. Our April schedule is against opponents who won at a .539 rate last year.

So yes, if they finish April near .500 moods in here will improve markedly. However, there's no reason except blind optimism to believe that this team will be near .500 at the close of April.

I hope I eat these words, but I'd bet not.

I'm praying for June, and Wang, Detwiler, Strasburg and Storen.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 10, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo was talking about wins and losses in Spring Training & he's right, they don't matter. Individual performances and getting the team ready for the season is what counts. Also, I don't understand the comment comparing us to the Royals, but trust me 4 years, from now, this team isn't going to look anything like the recent Royals clubs. We're going to be a very exciting team, maybe not quite this year, but we still will be improved.

Posted by: curlyWfan | March 10, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

and yet, if they finish April near .500, moods in here will improve markedly.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 10, 2010 9:16 PM |

I was trying to think of a funny retort, but I'll settle for this: They ain't gonna be around .500 in April.

Posted by: fischy | March 10, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about April, but I still believe that the team will be much improved this year - both in won/loss record and in general competency on the field. I know its hard to see past 0-8 in spring training, but the pitching will improve. The Nats will not win alot of 2-1 games, but they should win a few 5-4, 4-3 games this year that would have been 7-4 and 5-3 losses last year.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 11, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I find myself not worrying about the losses, and perhaps it IS because I am delusional. However, I prefer to think of it as being due to the fact that the starters who KNOW they are starters are not trying to throw their best stuff to earn a spot on the roster, they are working on arm strength and conditioning, and fine tuning their WEAKEST pitches. Watching the game on Tuesday, I never saw any real attempts, with the exception of Strasburg (who IS trying to make a case for being on the ML roster), to go after the hitters. If Rizzo isn't worried, I'm not. Besides, what can we do right besides hope for a much improved regular season than last year? I'd rather have than than go indefeated in ST and lose 100 games again. (makes me sick just to write that number)

Posted by: ehay2k | March 11, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and so happy to have FLopez -- or should that be FLop-EZ? ;-) -- on the other team. Same stellar base-running we used to see here. He went from Second base straight to the dugout. Twice.

There were some Flop-EZ fanboys here before, where are they now? No wonder he couldn't get a big contract.

Posted by: ehay2k | March 11, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Me wonders if RIggelman, being friends with Duncan's father, would have any influence on the decision? Sure did in St. Louis.

Posted by: Bowler300 | March 13, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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