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Willie Harris provides power and, for himself, relief

When Willie Harris dug into the batter's box Monday night for the first time, he knew his own recent history too well. He was hitting .150, and he started to feel the strain. After Adam Dunn walked and Ivan Rodriguez singled to right, Harris came up with one out in the second inning. Aaron Cook threw the first pitch.

"Fastball," Harris said. "Right in the middle."

Harris unleashed a quick swing and hooked the ball down the right field line. He watched as it curled inside the foul pole and into the Nationals' bullpen.

"You don't know how I felt running around those bases," Harris said. "Hitting a buck fifty, sooner or later you're going to get sat on the bench. I was happy for myself and for the team."

By the end of the night, Craig Stammen had stolen the headlines, and the silver Elvis wig, with eight innings. But Harris provided the bulk of the offense. He finished 2 for 3 and drove in four of the Nationals' five runs. The three-run homer gave the Nationals a lead they wouldn't relinquish and gave Stammen room to be comfortable.

"Willie's a ballplayer," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "He gives you good at-bats. He makes the pitcher throw a lot of pitches. He's got good power. He's just a ballplayer."


Having played seven of 13 games against 2009 playoff teams, the Nationals are still above .500 after Craig Stammen pitched them a 5-2 victory over the Rockies. "It means that we're not 1-12, digging out of a hole," Stammen said. "Thirteen games is really not that big of a deal if you look a whole 162-game season. But it's important to get off to a good start, put our mindset in the right spot."


Syracuse 3, Lehigh Valley 2: Kevin Mench went 2 for 4 with a walk and a run. He's hitting .394. J.D. Martin allowed one earned run on five hits and a walk while striking out five in five innings. Zech Zincola allowed a walk and a hit in a two-inning save.

Harrisburg 2, Reading 1: Aaron Thompson pitched seven shutout innings, outdueling Reading uber-prospect Phillippe Aumont. Drew Stroen allowed one run and struck out three for a two-inning, six-out save. Making his return from a hamstring injury, Danny Espinosa went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.

Frederick 8, Potomac 5: Michael Burgess went 2 for 4 with a walk. He's hitting .304. Brian Peacock, now hitting .342, went 2 for 5 with a double.

Delmarva 3, Hagerstown 2 (11 innings): J.P. Ramirez went 2 for 4 with a double. Josh Smoker allowed one run on four hits while striking out six in five innings.


The win last night went to Stammen, and the assist went to Livan Hernandez.

A random and entertaining look at the 2005 Nationals draft? Why not?

The Nats did some minor minor league roster shuffling.

Last night from a Rockies perspective.

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 20, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Injury updates and the return of Ron Villone
Next: John Lannan visits the Children's Inn


Aaron Thompson, the kid nobody talks about, threw a pretty good game.

I love Willie Harris. He might not be an every day player, but he gives you all he's got.

Posted by: CapitolWill | April 20, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Willie Harris has more HRs than Adam Dunn.

Posted by: gilbertbp | April 20, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I saw Thompson pitch in Bowie last week - he was very good that night though he left with the game scoreless and the team lost in the 11th. Two good starts in a row.

One interesting thing about a AA game with about 25 people in attendance, you feel like you're watching the game with the players. Thompson looked really nervous before taking the mound. Literally he looked like he was going to throw up in warmups. Maybe that's par for the course in his situation, but it's not something you get to see from professional athletes on a regular basis.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 20, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse


I agree Thompson gets no love, but if remember Rizzo said it he could get a call up to the show at a moments notice. This Harrisburg reminds me a little like the 2007 Hershey Bears.

The thing I am happy about is Josh Smoker allowed one run on four hits while striking out six in five innings. In 13 innings he has 18 K's, 7 BB's and has only alowed 1 HR. He just has to get his ERA in control it is 5.40 8 ER's allowed.

Posted by: hansenjo | April 20, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm enjoying the little minor league blurbs at the end of your morning blog post Adam-thanks!

Posted by: tgerbracht | April 20, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Willie Harris is a "gamer",old school,plays the game the right way, born in the same town as Jackie Robinson i've often wondered if Elijah Dukes sought Harris out for advice or just someone to talk to, a lot of fans here in the A-T-L have never forgiven the Braves for getting rid of Harris.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 20, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like when Stammen gets into trouble on the mound, Hernandez should go out to speak to him instead of McCatty!

Posted by: slewis1 | April 20, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sold on McCatty.

Posted by: CapitolWill | April 20, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Starting to come together pepper.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 20, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

That's encouraging news with the pitchers at AAA, AA, and Josh Smoker in Hagerstown.

Has Mench refigured out his swing? Hope so. This MLB team still needs a permanent everyday rightfielder from the right side.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 20, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Great piece about Stammen and Livo and golf...maybe someone can arrange for Livo to golf with Marquis real soon!? :)

Posted by: markfd | April 20, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Gotta agree with tgerbracht, these minor league updates are great. Coverage is a billion times better than last season. Thanks a lot Adam!

Posted by: razorkid | April 20, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else see on Baseball Tonight where they timed Alfonso Soriano vs. Adam Dunn getting from Home to Second Base?

Spoiler... Dunn won.

Posted by: Kavorka | April 20, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats file McCatty and make Livo a player-coach, who comes out to talk to him when he's on the mound? Could we be treated to some Gollum-like conversations between Livo the pitcher and Livo the coach?

Posted by: bertbkatz | April 20, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Oops, make that "fire McCatty".

Posted by: bertbkatz | April 20, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record, I'm not ready to fire McCatty. Just thought that Livan questioning himself on the mound made an interesting mental image.

Posted by: bertbkatz | April 20, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

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