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Nationals Journal: March 6, 2011 - March 12, 2011

The at-bat that produced Derek Norris's walkoff hit

I'm getting to this late, primarily (and selfishly) because I wanted to watch the San Diego State-BYU college hoops game, which I did over dinner with Jason Benetti, the voice of the Syracuse Chiefs. Had a great time with Benetti,...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 12, 2011; 10:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Bryce Harper optioned to Class A Hagerstown, could play for the Nationals this year

The Nationals optioned first overall pick Bryce Harper to low-Class A Hagerstown, an inevitable development that continued the process of Harper reaching the major leagues - which General Manager Mike Rizzo did not rule out happening by the end of...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 12, 2011; 5:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Spring discussion thread: Yankees at Nationals

With John Lannan and A.J. Burnett on the mound, the Nationals will play their 14th game of the spring, the second against the Yankees. You can watch the game on MASN. Because of that and the fact that we'll...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 12, 2011; 12:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Chien-Ming Wang throws a bullpen session, feeling 'better'

Chien-Ming Wang threw a bullpen session today without feeling any tightness in his shoulder, he said, his best progress since last week, when he had to cut short a start in a minor league intrasquad game. The Nationals have...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 12, 2011; 12:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Michael Morse claiming Nationals' left field position, center remains open

After his breakout during last regular season and a scorching two weeks this spring training, Michael Morse has apparently seized the Nationals' starting left field spot. Manager Jim Riggleman said Morse is "winning" the competition for the position, and General...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 12, 2011; 12:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Justin Maxwell will join the Yankees today

The Yankees' team bus ought to be fuming across the state of Florida right now, and one of the players on it is former Nationals outfielder, Olney native and Maryland alum Justin Maxwell. The Nationals traded Maxwell this winter shortly...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 12, 2011; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Michael Morse stays hot, Livan Hernandez labors, Ross Detwiler relieves

If Michael Morse keeps hitting like he is, especially after the way he played last season, then the Nationals are either going to play him every day or have a very difficult time explaining why he isn't. Morse went...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 11, 2011; 10:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Nationals spring training live blog, As Seen On TV Edition

End, 9:22: Bixler struck out. Nats lose, 7-6. They fall to 8-5. Fireworks at Space Coast Stadium! Bot 9, 9:18: The Nats got RBI singles up the middle from Nyjer Morgan and Bryce Harper (now batting .388 this spring)...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 11, 2011; 6:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Garrett Mock is 'confusing' to the Nationals

The story of Garrett Mock today remains the same as it's been for the past few years. Nationals officials agree on his potential, his arm strength and his raw stuff. The phrase "best arm in the organization" is frequently bandied...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 11, 2011; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Wilson Ramos taking the lead over Jesus Flores?

One of the few races that truly bears watching this spring is the competition between Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores to backup, and most likely eventually split time with, Ivan Rodriguez. Today, Manager Jim Riggleman gave what could be interpreted...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 11, 2011; 2:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Nationals cuts include Cla Meredith, Garrett Mock, Josh Wilkie

The Nationals made their second and largest round of cuts this spring, slicing their big league camp to 46 players, releasing reliever Cla Meredith and optioning two players on the 40-man roster to Class AAA Syracuse. The Nationals assigned pitchers...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 11, 2011; 1:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Clarification on Strasburg story

Yesterday afternoon, I received an e-mail from Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D., the biomechanist whose research I discussed in the wake of his interview contribution to Sports Illustrated's piece on Stephen Strasburg's mechanics. He explained that some of what I wrote misinterpreted...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 11, 2011; 1:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Long toss: Bryce Harper's ups and downs

This morning Adam Kilgore reported that Bryce Harper will remain in major league camp when the next round of cuts are announced later today. Kilgore also notes that his chances to make the major league team are still zero. Commenter...

By Washington Post editors  | March 11, 2011; 12:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Bryce Harper will survive cuts today

The Nationals will make their next round of cuts official later today, and when they do Bryce Harper will remain in major-league camp, according to a team source. Harper's staying with the Nationals does not indicate an improvement to...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 11, 2011; 10:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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An action-packed three innings for Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper entered the Nationals' 6-5 loss to the Astros tonight as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh inning, and during his brief time on the field he left more fingerprints on the game than probably any...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 10:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Tom Gorzelanny takes positives out of rough first outing

Tom Gorzelanny understood the black-and-white details were grim. In the box score, his first big league appearance in a Nationals uniform, tonight against the Houston Astros, looked like this: 2 1/3 innings pitched, three runs (two earned), five hits, three...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 9:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Nationals sign Ron Villone

The Nationals re-signed 41-year-old left-handed reliever Ron Villone to a minor league contract that does not include an invite to major league camp, a team official confirmed. Villone last pitched in the majors in 2009 and spent all of 2010...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 7:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Spring training (sort of) live-blog, I'm Sorry Houston Edition

End 7, 9:34: Kimball got out of the inning thanks in part to Bryce Harper's inning-ending, running catch on the warning. Took a good, confident route to the ball and it took some athleticism to make the play. He may...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 7:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Chad Gaudin states his case

Early this morning, Manager Jim Riggleman sat in his office and effectively said the fifth starter spot was Tom Gorzelanny's to lose. In the afternoon, Chad Gaudin went to the mound and may have inserted another shred of doubt into...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 5:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Nationals spring training live blog, Mets at Nats

End 9, 5:02: Tyler Clippard gave up a three-run bomb to Duda in the ninth and Destin Hood made an unsightly and costly error, but the Nationals held on to win, 6-5, and improve their spring record to 8-3....

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 1:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Long toss: Desmond's defense

Adam Kilgore joined Tracee Hamilton for her online chat today. One of the chatters asked about shortstop Ian Desmond's defense during spring training. Adam--thoughts on whether Desmond will ever turn his error trend around? Rizzo has to know he can...

By Washington Post editors  | March 10, 2011; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Nationals-Mets delayed

The tarp is off at Space Coast Stadium and there will be baseball, but it'll be a bit later than scheduled. The Nationals and Mets will start at 2 p.m., an hour or so late. That should make it interesting...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 12:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Luis Salazar incident underscores baseball's dangers for Jim Riggleman

Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman once worked in the Dodgers organization alongside Luis Salazar, the Braves coach who frighteningly absorbed a line drive in the face yesterday. "First class," Riggleman said. "He's a great man. Just a solid baseball guy....

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 10:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Jayson Werth likely to play, Ryan Zimmerman still sitting

Jayson Werth will likely play today following a day off yesterday to rest sore legs, while Ryan Zimmerman will rest his minor abdominal tweak for at least one more day. Werth came to Space Coast Stadium today and told trainers,...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 10:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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On Stephen Strasburg, idols and the unknown

The point of my story today is not to refute the fascinating, excellent piece Tom Verducci wrote about Stephen Strasburg this week. I'm not good at pinpointing exactly which writers most compelled me to want to write about sports. I...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Jason Marquis's efficiency, Danny Espinosa's big day, Todd Coffey's dominance

Once Jason Marquis finished pitching his four innings today, he headed not for the clubhouse, but the bullpen in foul territory down the right field line. He had used a scant 42 pitches, so he needed extra work to...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 9, 2011; 6:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Bryce Harper is feeling hitterish

Bryce Harper's debut, when he struck out twice on seven pitches, is feeling more and more like an insignificant memory. Harper laced an RBI single during today's 8-4 Nationals win over the Marlins in his only at-bat, which raised...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 9, 2011; 5:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Nationals spring training live blog, Nationals at Marlins

Top 7, 3:05: The Nats are running away from the Marlins now. It was 7-0 after Chris Marrero singled to center and scored Espinosa. New third base coach Bo Porter has been aggressive this spring, and he made an...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 9, 2011; 12:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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Long toss: Nyjer Morgan's progress

Dave Sheinin's blog post about Nyjer Morgan's adventures on the base paths yesterday (and the story in Tuesday's newspaper) stirred up more debate about Morgan's status with the team. Commenter swhite21 is taking a patient approach: As for Nyjer, let's...

By Washington Post editors  | March 9, 2011; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Jayson Werth resting with 'general soreness'

Jayson Werth, whom the Nationals had planned on bringing with them to Jupiter, stayed behind in Viera after he told Manager Jim Riggleman his legs felt tight. Riggleman described Werth's ailment as "general soreness in his legs" associated with spring...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 9, 2011; 11:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Ryan Zimmerman's oblique issue a 'non-factor'

The Nationals are rolling out of Viera, headed to Jupiter for today's game against the Marlins. Ryan Zimmerman will be staying behind, sitting out his third straight game as he waits for his slightly hurt oblique muscle to fully heal....

By Adam Kilgore  | March 9, 2011; 8:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Why Todd Coffey sprints

I am back from my respite back in Washington, having filed a mighty expense report and not quite shaken the urge to go to sleep at 9 p.m. every night. The break was nice, and it was a joy reading...

By Adam Kilgore  | March 9, 2011; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Nyjer Morgan's adventures on the basepaths

First of all, it was good for the Nationals to see Morgan on the basepaths in the first place. After carrying an .063 batting average (1 for 16) and .063 on-base percentage into Tuesday's game against the New York Mets,...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 8, 2011; 6:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Live blog: Nationals at Mets, Port St. Lucie, Fla.

End 10, 4:20: And that's your ballgame, folks. A 1-2-3 10th inning by Carr, who gets in the win in the Nationals' 4-3 victory. Mid 10, 4:15: We're going to the bottom of the 10th, with the Nationals holding a...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 8, 2011; 1:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (54)
 
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Cole Kimball on the rise

From a pitching standpoint, much of Monday's game, a 14-9 win for the Nationals, was a horror show. The Nationals used six pitchers, and five of them were dinged for multiple hits and at least one earned run. And then...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 8, 2011; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Long toss: Should we be worried about Storen?

Last night Dave Sheinin blogged about the Nats' unsightly win over the Astros. Within that blog post, Dave mentioned that reliever Drew Storen has had two consecutive sub-par outings. "We're asking him to throw more fastballs, which is going to...

By Washington Post editors  | March 8, 2011; 12:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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What's up with the awful defense?

Let's not sugar-coat this: The Nationals' defense the last few days has been atrocious. Seven errors in three games, and perhaps a half-dozen other misplays that weren't charged as errors. (Example: Late in Monday's game, non-roster first baseman Kevin Barker...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 8, 2011; 8:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Wrapping up an unsightly win

The Nationals committed three errors on Monday and were spared several others by lucky breaks and official scoring quirks. They twice had to pull pitchers in mid-inning (generally a spring training no-no) and saw all but one of their six...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 7, 2011; 6:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Live blog: Astros at Nationals, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.

End game, 4:26: Ryan Mattheus mops it up in the ninth, allowing one run, and the Nationals' 14-9 victory is in the books -- in only 3 hours, 30 minutes! End 8, 4:10: The Nationals sent 13 batters to the...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 7, 2011; 1:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (56)
 
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Long toss: Divided loyalties?

In this morning's newspaper Thomas Boswell wrote about the Baltimore Orioles, and that stirred up an old argument among Nationals fans. In his chat today, Boswell said: My family symbolizes the Nats/O's loyalty debate. I grew up taking the street...

By Washington Post editors  | March 7, 2011; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (72)
 
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Kasten has much to say about sports labor, little to say about himself

Stan Kasten is very busy. The erstwhile Nationals team president (and current minority owner), who is visiting the team's spring training camp today, said so at least three times during a brief session with media members. Too busy to do...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 7, 2011; 1:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Even more fifth-starter intrigue

Tom Gorzelanny, the veteran lefty acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs this winter, said he is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday, a day when the Nationals have split-squad games at home against the Mets...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 7, 2011; 11:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Is Norris the Nationals' catcher of the future?

After he had caught Livan Hernandez's four-inning stint in a minor league game Sunday morning, Derek Norris was collecting his things and preparing to return to the big league complex when Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo pulled him aside and...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 7, 2011; 10:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Fifth starter intrigue

While Tom Gorzelanny (illness) and Chien-Ming Wang (shoulder) -- the two veterans the Nationals hope will solidify their rotation this season -- work their way back to game-shape, the battle for that open fifth-starter job continues to be the best...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 7, 2011; 8:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Morning brushback  
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Nationals' bats absent in 5-0 loss to Braves

Twenty-four hours after putting up 10 runs against CC Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain and a host of lesser New York Yankees pitchers, the Nationals managed just two measly hits against Atlanta Braves hurlers Tommy Hanson, Cristhian Martinez, Jonny Venters, Jairo Asencio...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 6, 2011; 4:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Detwiler impressive in start versus Braves

Ross Detwiler proved on Sunday that, while Tom Gorzelanny holds the upper hand in the race for the Nationals' fifth starter job, and Chien-Ming Wang would get a clear shot at it if he could get himself healthy, it is...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 6, 2011; 1:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Livan Hernandez cruises in minor-league outing

Livan Hernandez, the Nationals' opening day starter, threw four brisk, one-hit innings in a minor league game against the Houston Astros prospects this morning at the Nationals' minor league complex, throwing 28 strikes among his 38 pitches and delighting the...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 6, 2011; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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LaRoche still day-to-day with mild shoulder soreness

On Sunday morning, another Nationals lineup was posted that did not include Adam LaRoche at first base. LaRoche, whom the Nationals signed this winter to a two-year $16 million contract, is experiencing soreness in his throwing shoulder, and Manager Jim...

By Dave Sheinin  | March 6, 2011; 9:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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