Josh Willingham wants to stay a while
In today's birdcage liner, I wrote about Adam Dunn, the most prominent National off to a light-hitting start. Not all of them, though, have stumbled out of the gate. Josh Willingham certainly hasn't.
Again, it's important to realize how inconsequential a week's worth of stats are. But Willingham's first week was excellent -- he slugged .739, tying him for seventh in the National League. His emergence batting fifth may be key to jump-starting Dunn, who should start seeing more hittable pitches if Willingham stays hot.
As far as future concerns, Willingham hopes to reach a multi-year contract extension before the end of the 2011 season, his agent, Matt Sosnick, said.
"His hope is that this year, next year, whenever, he wants to say in Washington," Sosnick said. "He wants to sign a multi-year deal."
Willingham expressed similar sentiment this spring. Willingham is also OK with waiting for the Nationals to come to him, which is probably a good thing. An extension is likely going to have to wait. The Nationals control Willingham through the 2011 season, after which he will be eligible for free agency. So there's no immediate urgency for the team. The Nationals would not likely broach an extension with Willingham until this offseason.
The only risk for them in waiting is that Willingham has a monster 2010, driving up his value. To get an idea of Willingham's ceiling, there is this fascinating comparison between Willingham and Jason Bay, done this winter by Dave Cameron at FanGraphs. The bottom line is that nothing is imminent, but it is interesting to know that Willingham wants to be a National.
FROM THE POST
Here's that story on Dunn staying relaxed despite a tough hitting start. While Dunn made his first error at first base this weekend, he also made a pair of nice plays Monday, particularly a backhand scoop on a threw from Adam Kennedy. "I'm starting to feel good over there," Dunn said. "I'm not having to think as much over there, which is a good thing."
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 4, Buffalo 3: J.D. Martin allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings on seven hits and one walk while striking out three. In relief, Atahualpa Severino rebounded from a horrible first outing to retire all four hitters he faced, striking out two. Chase Lambin went 4 for 4 with two doubles and three RBI.
Bowie 2, Harrisburg 1: Starter Jeff Mandel allowed two runs on three hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. Reliever Rafael Martin retired all five batters he faced, striking out three. Bill Rhinehart went 2 for 4 with a double.
Potomac 5, Winston-Salem 4 (12 innings): Robinson Fabian allowed one run in five hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four. Jose Lozada scored the game-winning run without benefit of a hit in 12th. Lozada walked, moved to second on a bunt by Charlis Biride, moved to third on a grouner by Robert Jacobsen and scored on a wild pitch.
Hagerstown 2, Lakewood 1 (10 innings): Jeff Kobernus went 4 for 5 with a double and two RBI, including the walk-off game-winner in the 10th. Kobernus, 21, is 9 for 16 this year. Daniel Rosenbaum allowed three hits and a walk in six shutout innings. Rosenbaum, 22, has not allowed an earned run in 11 1/3 innings while striking out 10.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
It appears the Nationals won't have to contend with Jimmy Rollins for this series, with Rollins likely headed to the disabled list.
I'm so glad there's video of this. The Phllie Phanatic dances around Pat Listach, who, rightfully, looks like he wants to run the mascot over with its ATV.
April 14, 2010; 8:20 AM ET
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