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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 and not Viera, Fla.

The team finalized its 25-man roster, and now needs to make room on its 40-man roster for two players before Sunday afternoon's deadline.

"I'm very happy with the spring in terms of the things we got accomplished," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "I think the players worked very hard and were very responsive to the new coaches who were brought in. ...We really did get a lot accomplished. We didn't get a lot done in the win column, but as the spring progressed, we picked it up there a little bit. You always feel like you could add a little something here or there, but overall, I'm very pleased with the spring."

A few nuggets from Saturday's loss...

- Craig Stammen allowed three hits in five innings, although two of those hits were home runs. Riggleman thought Stammen started too strong, and left two pitches up for the home runs. Stammen was pitching on a extra day, which contributed to throwing too hard early in the game before he settled down and pitched effectively.

"That's kind of an excuse that I'm not going to buy into," Stammen said when asked about the extra day. "Yeah, it probably messed up a little bit because I was a little stronger than what I'm normally accustomed to feeling, and that's different for a sinkerballer. But I'm not going to equate those two home runs to an extra day of rest."

Overall, Stammen felt pleased with his spring. He said he needs to hone his fastball location, but he felt comfortable with his other pitchers and has a spot in an opening day starting rotation for the first time in his career.

- Cristian Guzman spent time in right field and finally had a ball hit in his direction. Guzman made a nice catch on a tough fly.

"It was not really that easy a play and he kind of made it look easy," Riggleman said. "I wanted to get him out there once the lights were on, so we barely were able to do it. I'm getting more comfortable. I think in fairness to the pitchers, you hate to put somebody out there who hasn't had much experience there. He's a really good athlete and just an all-around good baseball player. But I think unless we got pushed into it early, I probably would put him out there in a little more of a widespread game like tonight, get a couple more chances.But the way he swings the bat, it's very tempting to stick him in there, period and run with it and he may develop into that."

- The Nationals faced Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield for four innings. It's unlikely the Nationals will face a knuckleballer this season, which made Saturday an unhelpful preparation for the regular season.

Riggleman knew a big crowd would come to Nationals Park (attendance was 37,312) and thought the fans deserved to see the Nationals' top players. He also presented the players with the option of waiting until Daisuke Matsuzaka entered the game, but the Nationals' hitters wanted to start.

By Zach Berman  |  April 3, 2010; 8:01 PM ET
 
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Next: Scott Olsen 'blown away' by decision, intent on return

Comments

After today, Riggleman can't make any more excuses.

Posted by: periculum | April 3, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Ok it was an 'exhibition' game -- but the Nats looked listless and lost with a few exceptions (pudge, Desmond). Overall it was a depressing experience to watch.

Posted by: swanni | April 3, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, would have been nice to win one in your home ballpark, even in exhibition season... Nats need those kinds of pick-me-ups considering their history... they need to create some positive energy.

But hopefully that will come with a sweep of the Phils starting on Monday...

Posted by: Ghost7 | April 3, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Swanni,

I saw 5 games in Fla plus the game today, and believe me I recognize that "listless" look. When Nyjer is not getting on base and driving pitchers and catchers crazy, and when Adam Dunn is not hitting (and he stopped hitting in early September last year), this club is going to have a lot of nights when they look listless on offense. During the nice hitting run last July-August, 6 guys were doing the job consistently at the top of the order: Nyjer, Guzzie, Zim, Dunn, Willingham, and Dukes. Two of those guys have been underperforming so far this spring, one is gone, and one has lost his starting job. Let's see what happens.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | April 3, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Sure, it was only an exhibition BUT, Willie Harris proved very quickly that he isn't a right fielder. If the Nats don't have anyone better that they can bring up to play the position, opposing teams will need to send their 3rd base coach to Doc Andrews at the All-Star break.

The pitching is mediocre at best. It's great to be optimistic but seriously, where else could any of these guys be in the rotation?

Adam Dunn is a MAJOR liability at first. I don't care how hard he worked over the winter and into the spring. Some kids got it, and some kids don't. Sorry, he don't!

This is going to be a very long year and the FO, plan or no plan is out of their depth.

We will soon be treated to the Susan O'Malley Bullets / Wizards marketing plan - promote the other team and hope their fans fill the seats because there aren't enough Nats fans to fill the park.

I think that they'll be extremely lucky to better last years' mark. Sadly, I can easily see a third consecutive 100+ loss season.

It's a damn shame.

Posted by: tradervic1313 | April 3, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman trying to sell us on Guzman as a right fielder is like a used car salesman trying to get you to test drive a car with two flat tires!! I'm gonna give Riggleman 25 games that's it and then i'm gonna let him have it because i've got a strange feeling it was Riggleman who convienced Rizzo to get rid of Dukes the more i listen to Riggleman talk about Guzman the more i know it was Barzini er i mean Riggleman all along.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 3, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Really hard to start the season with an optimistic outlook after what I saw this spring and today in person. Harris turned a single into a double, bullpen was not good and there really wasn't any spark. Did think Desmond and Kennedy made some decent plays in the field. Also question sending Olsen to AAA, he clearly was pitching better than Mock at the end. Why can't they at least keep him in FLA for a few weeks, get him stronger in the warmer weather and then bring him up? So we have no rightfielder, weak pitching and listless hitting. What a way to start the year.

Posted by: sjm3091 | April 3, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I have been s STH since day one, and like everyone who loves the game you want to be positive however...., this is a bad team folks. Its so depressing to watch re-runs over and over and thats what this organization is a "re-run"

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 3, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Yep, until Wang, Detwiler, Storen, and Strasburg get in the lineup, there'll be more listless days like this...but, if I was pitcher in my thirties, I'd be working on a knuckleball-after watching Wakefield today-so I could extend my career into my forties...

Posted by: bromisky | April 4, 2010 6:20 AM | Report abuse

Adam,

It will be three spots on the 40 man that they will have to create. ( Hernandez, Batista and Taveras) and I would guess that Flores, Wang and Detwiler will go on the 60 day retroactive to early March.I think you will see a lot of roster moves this year as the Nats will desperately try to avoid 100 losses. I am not encouraged by any of the acquisitions this winter by sheer numbers and though only one player remains from last years opening day line-up at the same position I think it will be more of the same old same old.

Posted by: aspenbubba | April 4, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse

The Nats in 2009 wrote the book on how to lose. Let the opposing team get ahead early, and then fail to catch up.

Yesterday was a perfect example.

Listening to Rizzo talk about how he and Riggleman want to see guys compete for positions on the team overlooks the fact that the guys they have competing, for the most part, belong in AA. Same old, same old.

There'll be a lot of Phillies fans on Monday, just like the place was full of Red Sox fans yesterday. I guess that's Stan's attendance plan—bus 'em in from Philadelphia and NYC.

Posted by: JohnRDC | April 4, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

How about that big basher first baseman in AAA as the Nats right fielder? Chris Morerro? Something like that?

Posted by: 6thandD | April 4, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

dargramps: Times have changed. It's not like the Old Days, when we can do anything we want. A refusal is not the act of a friend. If Riggleman had all the judges, and the politicians in DC, then he must share them, or let us others use them. He must let us draw the water from the well. Certainly he can present a bill for such services; after all... we are not Communists. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Haven't talked to you young fellow for a couple of weeks now. Glad we are ready to go but I really don't mind the setup of the team but I really don't like our broadcasters. Why
didn't we upgrade and get rid of Dribble and
the token gal. I've listened to about a dozen
Senator/Nationals announcer over the years and
Dribble is the worst.

Oltime Senator fan/ Oriole fan, now devoted
Nats fan.

oldtait1212

Posted by: wtait1212 | April 4, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

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