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Nationals Journal: September 26, 2010 - October 2, 2010

Michael Morse's breakout , season apparently over a day early

For the past month and a half, Michael Morse has been the most productive hitter on the Nationals. Since Josh Willingham's knee surgery claimed his season and opened an everyday spot for Morse, Morse has a .937 OPS, the best...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 2, 2010; 6:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Game 161 discussion thread: Nationals at Mets

The penultimate game of the Nationals' season will bring with an unusual international twist. Two Cuban starting pitchers, Yunesky Maya and Raul Valdes, will oppose one another. The last time one game featured two Cuban starting pitchers was May 22,...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 2, 2010; 12:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
 
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Adam Dunn sits with sore hamstring

Adam Dunn could probably use a day off no matter what, now that he's mired in an 0-for-8 slump with six strikeouts as the season winds to a close. But after playing in last night's cold, damp conditions, Dunn's hamstring,...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 2, 2010; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Adam Kennedy's rough season and Jim Riggleman's regret

It's pretty easy for Adam Kennedy to summarize his first, and most likely only, season with the Nationals. "Not very fun," he said. "I know that." Kennedy started barely half of the Nationals' games. Discounting 2007, when Kennedy missed more...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 2, 2010; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Today's lineups

The Nationals are giving Nyjer Morgan and Adam Dunn -- 0 for his last 8 with six strikeouts -- the day off against left-hander Raul Valdes. The Nationals have their most potent offensive players out of the lineup, but then...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 2, 2010; 10:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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About that dropped fly ball between Justin Maxwell and Nyjer Morgan

In the seventh inning Friday night, Mike Hessman skied a high fly ball to left field off Joel Peralta. It may have tested the fence on another day, but on Friday it was held up by the wind whipping in....

By Adam Kilgore  | October 1, 2010; 11:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Game 160 discussion thread: Nationals at Mets

The Nationals begin their final series of the season tonight before a sparse crowd at Citi Field. The Nationals are two wins away from 70, which would be a purely cosmetic milestone. "That's a good word for it, cosmetic," Manager...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 1, 2010; 7:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Nationals outfield likely to return intact

The Nationals outfield is not quite an obvious strength, but it's not necessarily a glaring weakness, either. Some combination of Michael Morse, Josh Willingham, Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernadina played the majority of games there this season, and it seems...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 1, 2010; 7:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Today's lineup

The Nationals will begin their final series of the season without Roger Bernadina in the lineup for the second straight game despite an off day in between. We'll find out soon if there's anything physically amiss for him. Nationals 1....

By Adam Kilgore  | October 1, 2010; 3:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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The Nationals could pursue Yu Darvish

Given the thin market for top-shelf starting pitching, the Nationals may have to be creative in how they achieve General Manager Mike Rizzo's goal of landing a frontline starter. They could accomplish that and provide proof they've improved their international...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 1, 2010; 2:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
 
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What's at stake this weekend for the Nationals

It would be easy and generally accurate to call these three games this weekend at Citi Field between the Mets and Nationals "meaningless." The Nats have pretty much been out of it since June, and the Mets bowed out of...

By Adam Kilgore  | October 1, 2010; 8:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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If not Adam Dunn, then who?

Last night, before Adam Dunn received an ovation each time he came to the plate and, in the process of trying "to hit every ball as far as I possibly could," struck out four times, Mike Rizzo sat with reporters...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 30, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (116)
 
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Wilson Ramos, Ivan Rodriguez and the Nationals catching situation

On Monday evening in the Nationals clubhouse, Ivan Rodriguez, 38, and Wilson Ramos, 23, sat in front of Rodriguez's locker examining a scouting report. Rodriguez explained, hands moving. Ramos listened, nodding intently. At one point, Rodriguez put his arm around...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 30, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Game 159 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Phillies

The Nationals will close Nationals Park for the season against the Phillies, or at least a rough approximation thereof. With home field advantage already locked up, the only Phillies regulars in the starting lineup are shortstop Jimmy Rollins, center fielder...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 29, 2010; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Mike Rizzo makes a No. 1 starter the Nationals' offseason priority

After fielding one of the least productive starting rotations in the majors this season and with Stephen Strasburg's Tommy John surgery creating a one-season void, the Nationals will make landing an elite, No. 1 starting pitcher their first priority this...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 29, 2010; 6:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Today's lineup

The Nationals are getting ready to play their final home game of the 2010 season. The tarp is currently on the field, and the weather report calls for a decent chance of rain all night. The light rain doesn't seem...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 29, 2010; 2:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (88)
 
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Jason Marquis finds some satisfaction in his lost season

Now that it is over, Jason Marquis can put an appropriate stamp on his first year with the Nationals. "It was," Marquis said, "a weird season." Before he signed with the Nationals, Marquis had never played on a team that...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 29, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (73)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Is tomorrow goodbye for Adam Dunn?

On Tuesday night, Adam Dunn will do what he has already done 159 times over the past two seasons, more than any player over that time. He'll slip on his No. 44 Nationals uniform, listen to the national anthem and...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 28, 2010; 7:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
 
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Game 158 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Phillies

Tonight will be the final start of Jason Marquis's season, one that went basically nothing like the Nationals hoped it would. He enters tonight having made 12 starts and winning two. His ERA is 7.18. So this'll be his last...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 28, 2010; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (54)
 
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Jesus Flores is coming back

Catcher Jesus Flores has existed this Nationals season as one of this year's saddest sagas. He came to spring training hoping his battered shoulder would finally heal. Each time he found progress, a setback instantly erased it. He visited Dr....

By Adam Kilgore  | September 28, 2010; 6:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Stephen Strasburg's elbow rehab, in a word: 'Boring'

He sounded good. That was the first and immediate takeaway from Stephen Strasburg's teleconference with media members Tuesday afternoon -- the phenom's first public comments since undergoing season-ending elbow ligament-replacement surgery on Sept. 3. He seemed to be in good...

By Dave Sheinin  | September 28, 2010; 3:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Mark Lerner on Stan Kasten, Stephen Strasburg and the Phillies

Earlier today, Mark Lerner and Ryan Zimmerman joined representatives from the Capitals, Mystics, Redskins and Wizards at an event to support the program "Live Positively: Get the Ball Rolling," which promotes active, healthy living among local youth. It's a good...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 28, 2010; 3:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Today's lineup

Ryan Zimmerman, no surprise, isn't in there today, but Nyjer Morgan will reclaim the leadoff spot with Roy Oswalt on the mound. Danny Espinosa will drop down to sixth. Nationals 1. Nyjer Morgan, CF 2. Roger Bernadina, LF 3. Ian...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 28, 2010; 2:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Collin Balester provides some relief

I assume what you do not want to read is more about the dominant theme of last night, which was basically embarrassment. In a few seasons, if the Nationals become contenders or, maybe, throw a celebration like the Phillies, yesterday's...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 28, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Tyler Moore, Tom Milone win Nationals minor league award

The Nationals have named Class A Potomac first baseman Tyler Moore their minor league player of the year and Class AA left-hander Tom Milone their pitcher of the year. Moore, the Carolina League MVP, hit .269 with 43 doubles, 31...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 27, 2010; 7:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Game 157 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Phillies

The weather report and the sky over Nationals Park are both ominous, but at the moment the tarp is off and players are warming up in the outfield. It seems all but certain the game will be delayed at some...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 27, 2010; 6:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Ryan Zimmerman wants to return, probably won't

While Nationals third base Ryan Zimmerman did not rule out a return by the end of this season, he said he wants to make caution a priority with his injury and seemed mostly resign to finishing as a spectator, vowing...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 27, 2010; 6:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Today's lineups

With Ryan Zimmerman out for the fifth straight game, the Nationals will use basically the same lineup they've gone with in his absence. Nationals 1. Danny Espinosa, 2B 2. Nyjer Morgan, CF 3. Ian Desmond, SS 4. Adam Dunn, 1B...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 27, 2010; 3:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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Ryan Zimmerman likely out for season

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will not play today and, with six games remaining, will likely miss the rest of the season with a strained rib muscle that is showing few signs of healing, according to a source close to...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 27, 2010; 2:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Could Sean Burnett close?

When the Nationals traded away Matt Capps, Sean Burnett became at least a temporary option to protect leads in the ninth inning. At the time, he said he felt like he didn't "have the stuff to close." In the past...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 27, 2010; 9:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (58)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Livan Hernandez hits 200 innings

Back at the start of spring training, when Livan Hernandez was still a pitcher without a team, he believed he would throw 200 innings this season. The league disagreed; not one of 30 teams offered him a major league contract....

By Adam Kilgore  | September 26, 2010; 6:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Game 156 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Braves

The Nationals honored Braves Manager Bobby Cox before today's game, a brief and well-done ceremony. It began with a video tribute which called Cox "a model of consistency" and "one of the greatest managers of all-time." General Manager Mike Rizzo,...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 26, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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Scott Olsen likely done for the season

After experiencing recent soreness in his shoulder and unable to find comfort as a reliever, Scott Olsen appears to be done for the season and, perhaps, done with the Nationals. Olsen recently tried to throw a bullpen session and felt...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 26, 2010; 12:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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No improvement for Ryan Zimmerman's injury

Ryan Zimmerman's strained rib did not improve from yesterday to today, a development that does not bode well for Zimmerman's return this season. Yesterday, Manager Jim Riggleman said it's possible Zimmerman won't play again this season. Today, Zimmerman was sufficiently...

By Adam Kilgore  | September 26, 2010; 12:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Today's lineups

Ryan Zimmerman remains out of the Nationals' lineup for the fourth straight game. Nyjer Morgan will drop down to second in the order behind Danny Espinosa. Nationals 1. Danny Espinosa, 2B 2. Nyjer Morgan, CF 3. Ian Desmond, SS 4....

By Adam Kilgore  | September 26, 2010; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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