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Wil Nieves's big night is nothing compared to week ahead

Morning roundup

Last night, Wil Nieves was sitting in the Nationals' dugout and he figured he would watch a game, maybe warm up the pitcher a few times, just like most nights. Without warning, as Ivan Rodriguez got ejected, Nieves switched from spectator to the only catcher his team had. This was not something that made him nervous, not after what he's been through and is still going through.

"I'm just waiting for a phone call," Nieves said. "Hopefully, it doesn't happen."

Nieves's wife, Yormarie, is 39 weeks pregnant. Her due date is Sunday, when the Nationals will be in Philadelphia. The Nieveses will name their baby girl Isabel Maria. If she is not born by Sunday, Yormarie will have an induced labor Monday, when the Nationals come home.

But Nieves's daughter could be born at any moment. He hopes it does not come until he's there. During games, he gives his cellphone to clubhouse manager Mike Wallace and wishes for it not to ring.

Nieves figures he will miss games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, games Rodriguez will probably catch, anyway. Nieves is actually more relaxed now than he has been for most of his season, when complications wore on him.

"It's tough, because it hasn't been a normal pregnancy," Nieves said. "She was just in bed for three months. Obviously, you worry. Something is going to happen, the baby is going to be premature. It's going to be stressful when your wife has a baby. But she's been doing great.

"You don't want to think stuff like that can affect your game. Maybe subconsciously, it does. It is hard to do your work, especially when you're far away."

Last night, in a game should never have played, Nieves went 3 for 3 with two doubles, one of which put the Nationals ahead in the sixth inning. He said he has been feeling confident at the plate lately. His biggest worry has dissipated.

"Now that she's 39 weeks, I'm more relaxed," Nieves said. "I know if the baby comes, she's going to be fine. She's ready to come out now."

FROM THE POST

A strong start gave way to an ugly finish as the Nationals lost to the Braves, 10-2, to start their road trip.

Bryce Harper gives Washington a third potential Nationals legend, Boz writes.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Louisville 8, Syracuse 5: Chase Lambin went 3 for 4. Boomer Whiting went 1 for 4 with a double and a walk. Jason Bergmann pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts.

Erie 4, Harrisburg 3 (10 innings): Michael Burgess went 2 for 4 with two home runs. Josh Johnson went 3 for 4. Brad Peacock allowed no runs in seven innings on one hit and three walks, striking out eight.

Kinston 5, Potomac 3 (Game 1, 7 innings): Tyler Moore went 1 for 3 with a triple. Francisco Soriano went 2 for 4.

Kinston 3, Potomac 1: Derek Norris went 1 for 1 with a home run and two walks. Daniel Rosenbaum allowed three runs in five innings on eight hits and three walks, striking out three.

Hagerstown 8, Delmarva 6: Destin Hood went 3 for 5 with a double. Sandy Leon went 1 for 3 with a triple and two walks. Josh Smoker pitched a perfect ninth for his first save of the season. Smoker's last four appearances have come out of the bullpen, and he has allowed one earned run over six innings on three hits and two walks while striking out 11.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

The Nationals were the No. 1 winner from the draft, writes John Manuel of Baseball America.

Bryce Harper felt relief 20 seconds to midnight, Matt Youmans writes.

Mark Zuckerman looks at Harper's path to the majors.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 18, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

Anybody reporting on Morgan's rehab non-start? Local paper calls it "no show, no call"

http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2010/08/nyjer_morgan_a_no-call_no-show.html

Posted by: sjt1455 | August 18, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Will Nieves has no business on a MLB roster

Posted by: jboogie1 | August 18, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Nice timing of disappearance for Nyjer, what with Willingham's apparently imminent trip to DL.

Continuing from previous threads....Brue notes overuse of bullpen. Nebnat remarks on how we've been getting blown out much more frequently since the AS break. And Rigs lifts Scotty after--what?--sixtysome pitches last night. Yes, he made two really bad pitches. And yes, he walked the next batter (on a borderline pitch). But had Florida native Olsen really suddenly lost it in the oppressive Atlanta heat, as Dibs and Rigs say? Ray Knight isn't so sure, nor am I. Dibs was a flamethrower trained to throw all out til he was out of gas, but guys like Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz seemed to find ways to cope in the Atlanta heat. Different body types than Scotty? Maybe. Anyway, Rigs may have no choice but to let starters like Lannan, Scotty, and Livo go deeper into games, at least til Sept., when reinforcements arrive.
And if there is an ingrained mentality that starters should be lifted at the first signs of trouble, the mindset is ingrained just as deeply in managers and pitching coaches, if not more so, as in pitchers. Olsen's body language did not suggest to me that he was looking to Rigs to bail him out when the going got tough.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 18, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Will Nieves has no business on an MLB roster. He won't be around here when Ramos is called up, unless Pudge isn't around.

Posted by: jboogie1 | August 18, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Nieves went 3 for 3, which I suspect is better than many commenters would do in a major-league match.

As far as the off-field concerns (which trump the outcome of any game, imho), here's hoping that baby Nieves is delivered safely, with no complications for her or for mom. I recall reading that they had been trying to conceive for many years, without success.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 18, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

As usual, 1a1 is right on the money. I, too, wish Will and his wife all the best. The critics should recognize that Nieves is part of a long tradition of backup catchers; if they hit better than .250 most of the time, they'd lose their jobs as backups and become starters somewhere.

He is what he is, and has no reason to be ashamed.

Posted by: nats24 | August 18, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"Nieves went 3 for 3, which I suspect is better than many commenters would do in a major-league match."

Ah, the old fans can't comment because they couldn't do better rant. I agree, he shouldn't be on a big league roster. a 3 for 3 performance isn't a player make. and its a game, not a match.

Posted by: JDB1 | August 18, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"Nieves went 3 for 3, which I suspect is better than many commenters would do in a major-league match."

Ah, the old fans can't comment because they couldn't do better rant. I agree, he shouldn't be on a big league roster. a 3 for 3 performance isn't a player make. and its a game, not a match.

Posted by: JDB1 | August 18, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes to the Nieves family.

Posted by: JohnRDC | August 18, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Fixed it: "Ah, the old fans can't rant because they couldn't do better comment."

---

Ah, the old fans can't comment because they couldn't do better rant.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 18, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The point being that my comment was not a rant. Not that I couldn't work up a good rant if I wanted to do so. But it's not worth expending the energy in this case, imo. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 18, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes for the Nieves family. He has been a serviceable backup for the past few years and has the coolest walk up music, so while this year will most likely be his last, his presence has been merited and appreciated.

Posted by: jfromPG | August 18, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

All they had to do was go to the source on the Nationals Website. He was granted permission to skip the Harrisburg assignment so he can be ready to replace Josh if he goes on the DL.

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100817&content_id=13551658¬ebook_id=13553680&vkey=notebook_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Posted by: CALSGR8 | August 18, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

"Will Nieves has no business on an MLB roster. He won't be around here when Ramos is called up, unless Pudge isn't around."

Yes he will still be here. Ramos won't be called up until September when rosters expand to 40. It would be stupid to cut Nieves then, when he can be kept around on the bench in case of emergency.

Next year is a different story. But don't be surprised if they non-tender Nieves and sign him back on a minor league deal. Just as you can never have enough pitching, you can never have enough backup catchers.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 18, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Nieves hit well for a backup catcher his first two seasons here, with OBP over .300 and BA over .250 or .260. He does a decent job defensively. Teams don't run on him all that much, from what I can see. Pitchers trust him.

Maybe some fans get down on Wil because he comes up as a PH in key situations. But that's more of a problem with Nats' lack of bench strength than it is Wil's fault.

Wil could be a major league backup somewhere next season.

Posted by: EdDC | August 18, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a huge fan of Nieves and his swing for right field with every pitch attitude, but by all accounts he's a good guy and I wish him and his family well. Unfortunately being a good guy doesn't make you a good player; from a strictly baseball perspective you have to think his time here is nearing the end.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 18, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Cap, good points about the quick hook on Olsen. Still not sure about it, myself. Olsen looked like a totally different pitcher in that inning and looked like he had lost something, but it was still surprising to see Riggs yank him. What had to set Olsen off was that Riggleman clearly had no confidence that he could bounce back and get out of the inning without big trouble. It's gotta hurt if that's what your manager thinks of you.

I know we talk about bullpen burnout and it feels like it's happening, but if you look at the box scores for the past week, the problem isn't exactly burnout. Storen's pitched twice in seven games and hasn't pitched since Sunday, Burnett's pitched three times, and hasn't pitched since Sunday, Clippard twice (not since Sunday), and the other guys have all pitched three times. That's a pretty normal workload for each guy.

The key is that Riggleman uses everybody in the bullpen equally, getting innings for the second tier guys like Peralta, Slaten and Stammen. Sometimes that's not a problem and sometimes you have nights like last night. To avoid the burnout, he goes with lesser pitchers and he gets burned for it. That might lead to a blowout loss last night but means Storen, Clippard and Burnett are fresh tonight if Livan gives them a chance to win against Hudson.

Better starting pitching would really mean less use of the back end of the bullpen, but I'm not sure it would reduce the load for Storen, Burnett and the other key guys. It looks like they're controlling that already.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 18, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Nieves indeed seems like a good guy (and his last 3-game 6 hits in 10 ABs helps his cause to remain as a backup). But whatever happens in the future, I definitely wish him well, and hope that there's a new safely-delivered member of Whoville by next week!

Posted by: NatAlbert | August 18, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

My best wishes to Wil and his wife on a safe and healthy addition to the family. I think people are a little harsh on this blog about him. He's a decent backup catcher who was never expected to start more than 40 games a season. Last night he stepped in when Pudge was ejected and has a good night. If nothing else, he's been healthy and durable which is something we never got from Jesus Flore. Granted Ramos will be on the big league club next year, but Nieves will find a job as there is always a need for experienced backup catchers.

Posted by: wizfan89 | August 18, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Will has been a true profesional. He's bound to get picked up if the Nats let him go. Just where is Jesus Flore? He looked like the future until the injuries started.

Posted by: jmay2 | August 18, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Ladson just tweeted that the Nats called up Ramos to replace Nieves, who went home to be with his wife. I can't wait to see this guy in action. He has to be motivated to be out from behind Mauer in Minnesota, and to be able to learn from Pudge.

Welcome to DC Wilson!

Posted by: SpashCity | August 18, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

It's not that you can't comment--of course you can comment. Who's stopping you? She's just making fun of you for doing so, which is also allowed.

Nieves is drawing an MLB paycheck, which means either he's approximately in the top 100 people alive who do what he does for a living, or there's a bunch of people available and better. Ramos, presumably, will be up soon, but in the meantime, Nieves is still better at what he does than most here are at commenting on it, or indeed at much of anything--and that's saying something, in here. So it's not that you shouldn't comment so much as you shouldn't be a d*ck about it.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 18, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

That said, "match"??

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 18, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I respectfully disagree with the above sentiments... if you are a MLB player and you are hitting as poorly as Nieves, Maxwell, Harris et. al. then as a fan I have the right to have the opinion to say the guy is horrible at the moment. Is he better then me? Of course, and as a MLB player (and veteran) he's deserved the respect that entails but it doesn't mean because he's on the roster I can't complain when these guys make out after out.

One thing I don't know enough about is the ability for Nieves to handle pitchers; if he calls a good game and the pitchers are comfortable with him then that's better then some guy who hits 270 but can't handle the staff.

Just my two cents.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 18, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

SCNatsFan, with respect, I suggest you're missing the point. Nobody said anybody else isn't free to comment, and nobody here would say that, I believe. Criticize away, we all do it. But if someone is going to call a popular player (who just had a good game) a bum, and not deserving of his job, then someone is likely to take exception, and if they respond in kind to the perceived tone of the first post, that's fair, IMO.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 18, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

But I can't defend "match."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 18, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

If this were the old, pre-login days I could sign that "Gene Rayburn."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 18, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

And I'd respond with "Brett Somers"

I don't think nay of the players I mentioned, and include Maquis in the bunch, are bums, nor are thay bad people (they might be, but odds are they are good folk). They are just guys who are helping this franchise tread water instead of advancing; to be fair, if we had capable replacements they would already be here in their places.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 18, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

You guys are pathetic.

"Charles Nelson Reilly" is the only acceptable response.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 18, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Whatever his deficiencies as a major league backstop, I can personally attest that Nieves is a really nice guy.

A buddy and I wore our Nats gear to an away game in Spring Training. During warm-ups, Nieves saw us, did a double take and came over to say hello.

I hope the band joyously heralds Isabel Maria's arrival.

Posted by: Drew8 | August 18, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for pinch hitting for me while I was offline, sec3. I never said that anybody isn't free to comment. That straw man was raised by JDB1 in response to my comment (as opposed to my "rant," as it was characterized). Geez, losing makes people cranky. ;-)

---

SCNatsFan, with respect, I suggest you're missing the point. Nobody said anybody else isn't free to comment, and nobody here would say that, I believe. Criticize away, we all do it. But if someone is going to call a popular player (who just had a good game) a bum, and not deserving of his job, then someone is likely to take exception, and if they respond in kind to the perceived tone of the first post, that's fair, IMO.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 18, 2010 2:04 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 18, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

And I never said anything about "nice guys" or "bad people." Rather, I wished the couple well with the pregnancy.

But I will concede on "match." ;-)

And I'll take Wally Cox to block. Oh, sorry. Wrong game...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 18, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Well I'll second the comment about not being a (jerk). All the best Wil, and for your wife and new baby!

Posted by: evanescent_panoply | August 18, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

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