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Posted at 8:23 AM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Fifth starter intrigue

By Dave Sheinin
Morning brushback

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 story of the camp. On Saturday, Chad Gaudin pitched well against the Yankees. On Sunday, it was Ross Detwiler dominating the Braves.

And today, it is Yunesky Maya, the intriguing Cuban right-hander, taking on the visiting Houston Astros at Space Coast Stadium. (Lefty John Lannan is also getting some work in this morning, in a minor league game.) In one sense, the jockeying for position that we in the media tend to focus on during spring training is pointless, since chances are, all of these guys will start games for the Nationals this season, given the rate of attrition of pitchers. But the intriguing part is whether someone like Detwiler or Maya pitch so well this spring, the Nationals find it impossible to leave them out of the rotation -- and in turn, which more established big leaguer would be bumped to fit them in.

Here is the Nationals' lineup for today, highlighted by Adam LaRoche's first appearance at first base. (Also, Jeff Frazier, a minor-league free-agent signee this winter, gets his second start in three days in left field.)

CF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
DH Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Jeff Frazier
SS Alberto Gonzalez

FROM THE POST: The Nationals pull off a perfectly executed relay, and we go inside to discover the hidden beauty in a 9-6-5 putout.

Boz says the Baltimore Orioles, with some big spending and some big-name acquisitions, have done their part to spice up the Orioles-Nationals rivalry.

And from Sunday, meet the man who will likely be Bryce Harper's first minor league manager.

By Dave Sheinin  | March 7, 2011; 8:23 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brushback  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nationals' bats absent in 5-0 loss to Braves
Next: Is Norris the Nationals' catcher of the future?


I like this lineup and that Rizzo / Riggs are giving Bernadina another look at leadoff. He stroked a HR and laid down a beautiful bunt single when he last got a start in CF and leadoff last Wednesday.
Rizzo and Riggs of course will only say positive and non-committal things about Nyjer, but Rizzo brought competition for CF into camp for a reason.
Also is this the first time we've laid out the heart of the order like this, Werth, Zimm, Morse, LaRoche?

Posted by: Sunderland | March 7, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed the 9-6-5 article, Dave.
I also like this lineup, go get em Nats

Posted by: gengreen17 | March 7, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

If you're a youth baseball coach, or you know a youth baseball coach, the 9-6-5 putout article is a must-read. Most likely, you already know the basics, but the detail to this double cut is tremendous.

Strongly recommend that you pass this article on to your youth baseball coaching staff.

Posted by: joemktg1 | March 7, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Note on today's game - it's on 1580AM (the new alternate AM channel this season - when not on 106.7).

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Ugh what a terrible line up.

Seriously what does the Natinals manager think when he makes that drek out?

If that's what he's gonna go with in the regular season I see no need for any pitcher to ever pitch to Zimmerman. Just walk him and get that schlub, Morse, to easily strike out or meekly ground out to an infielder. Not like Morse is striking fear into the opposing pitcher.

Good luck with that. Of course the Natinals are gonna lose 100+ anyway so it won't matter.

Plus did all you see the excellent article Boswell wrote. He'll probably win a Pulitzer for it. Kudos to him.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Ditto to what others have said about the 9-6-5 article, Dave. It was terrific.

Posted by: Natsgal | March 7, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Someone explain to me--Detwiler is out of options I think. If he does not make the club on Opening Day, as expected, does he have to clear waivers to go to Syracuse?

Posted by: natinbeantown | March 7, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I believe that Detwiler has an option left...

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Hey Dave, if you're gonna link Boswell's article about the O's, you (or someone at WaPo) may want to make sure the link actually works.

I mean, I get it. You don't want Natinals fans here on the blog to get even more depressed than they already are. I mean they know going into 2011 their team is gonna lose 100+ and if you link them to a story on WaPo about the O's and how successful they'll be this year it might make them go crazy. So on that hand I can see why you wouldn't want to actually provide the link to Boswell's article.

That said, let the Natinals fans read it. Let them see what a winning baseball team looks like.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse


great article on the 9-6-5. In fact, most of your articles have been outstanding. I mean, who knew that Pudge had his own golf cart?

Is it just me or is anyone else here just a tad upset with Boswell's article. I think he took a couple of low shots at the Nationals and was not totally objective. I think the O's have done a nice job of getting better but I am not sure why he needed to slap the Nationals in the process. With the exception of PMcP, why can't we be happy to have decent baseball in both leagues?

I rooted for the O's and actually had season tickets way back when they were winning and we had no prospect of baseball in DC. I love Camden Yards and still go once a year. My team is in Washington, but I have no problem with Baltimore. I was surprised that we have won more games since coming back 6 years ago. That does not say much for the O's but I wish them luck this year. I wish us of course more luck, Go Nats!!!

Posted by: sjm3091 | March 7, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I read the Boswell article this morning, and was surprised at how Boswell was writing from a different perspective for his Orioles audience. He has been a big proponent of the Werth deal when he writes for Nationals fans. He called Werth a "semi-star" this morning, and wrote how the Orioles did so much better in signing 3 people he hinted are better hitters than Werth.

I'm beyond worrying about how the Post treats the Nats at this point, and I enjoy reading Boswell's positive take on the team and their future. However, when he writes a column like the one this morning, I realize that I shouldn't completely take his sincerity for granted.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 7, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Kev29. I guess we'd be reading a lot more about the 5th starter battle if one of Wang, Detwiler or Maya couldn't go down. Seems like the rotation is set, with the long man role coming down to Gaudin and Stammen.

Posted by: natinbeantown | March 7, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

For someone who hates the Nationals so much, McP sure spends a lot of time reading and commenting on Nationals articles. I think the reason he's always so ornery is that the O's won't improve beyond 4th in the AL East anytime soon and they're still stuck with the worst owner in baseball. Enjoy that 14th straight losing season (and beyond) there buddy and try to be a little less pissy, even if the Red Sox and Yankees keep crushing you in front of their own fans at Camden.

Posted by: futbolclif | March 7, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Kev: I agree with you, and really don't understand how Boswell can jump back and forth. I also want as much baseball writing in the Post as possible, just don't understand why he had to downgrade the National's at the expense of what positives the O's did. I don't follow the O's at all but I think Roberts has already been injured slightly this spring and that was not mentioned. Oh well, I will get back to getting excited about our rotation and the battle in CF.

Go Nats

Posted by: sjm3091 | March 7, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

if the Red Sox and Yankees keep crushing you in front of their own fans at Camden.

Posted by: futbolclif | March 7, 2011 10:12 AM

Hey soccerclif, may want to remember that Phillie, Mets, and Braves fans routinely invade Natinals Park to watch their team beat up on the Natinals.

You remember how last Opening Day (and every game the Phillies play in DC) the Phillies were basically playing a home game, right?

Oooops, don't let facts get in the way of your hating though. Since we all know, haters gotta hate.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Gotta love SlimJim3091 trying to bash the O's and say Roberts was "injured" already.

He slept wrong and woke up with a stiff neck. Yeah, that never happens to anybody.....

Of course he missed one day and was back at it and in the line up the following day.

But like soccerclif, don't let facts get in the way of hatin'

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

That Boz column was a little disappointing. It was almost as if he was harking back to his 80s/90s self when he pretended that Baltimore baseball mattered to him. But, I still love and respect his opinions on the Nats regardless of what he might write about the Baltimore team. And rosy projections and sentimental coverage might seem to matter in spring training, but it's really just time to put a respectable product on the field. No matter what fake grading scale you put on the Nats off-season moves or phony competition there is with Baltimore, I believe our club is heading in a better direction at the moment.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 7, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

See what happens when you feed the dipsh*t troll. Please don't feed him.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 7, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

It bears repeating - Don't feed the troll.

Posted by: frenchyb | March 7, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"I mean, who knew that Pudge had his own golf cart?"

Golf cart, shmolf cart. The man has a life size statue of himself in full catching regalia in his back yard, for crying out loud.

Posted by: FeelWood | March 7, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The only way Pudge will be able to make it from home to first will be by using his golfcart.

Poor guy. Of course the only way he's able to stick around the Big League's is to play on the Natinals. Dunno if that speaks more to the decline of Steroid-Pudge or the overall stinkness of the Natinals.

Probably both.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

The latest maps printed by the USGS shows hecked Baltimore is in Maryland, while the District of Columbia is the capital of the United States. I never understood the Boz-Blows/WAPO connection. Then again I detest anything Baltimoron and have since 1972.

Can't wait for that first Yankee and Sox series, no matter what its always music to the ears when those chants of "Lets go Red Sox", Lets go Yankees" drown out the pathetic few inhabitants of "Birdland".

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 7, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm in general agreement with Kev29 on Boz's column. I'm a Baltimore native who lives in Northern Virginia and has adopted the Nats as my #1 team. I "root" for the Orioles, but in a secondary fashion. So, I appreciate that Boz also has divided loyalties, even journalistically.

But that column was a total 180 compared to some of his previous comments, and he should be called on it (I posted a pretty harsh critique to today's chat; we'll see if he answers it). But the Nats KNEW they were overpaying for Werth and they did it for reasons that go beyond his offense. Boz knows that and he should have referenced it in the column.

Also, HE'S been pushing the need for better defense and has written about it a lot. I think it was hypocritical of him to scoff at the importance of defense in the column this morning.

I think the Orioles are getting better and I'm glad for it. I just don't see a need to take shots at the Nats in the process, especially unwarranted ones.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 7, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Sheinin, I love, love, love your 9-6-5 relay article.

It's a testament to the beauty of the subtleties in baseball that an entire story could be made around a single, 15-second play. Really great stuff. Thanks!

Posted by: NatsNut | March 7, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Just posted my thoughts on the 5th starter, along the lines of what is written here.

Posted by: tboss | March 7, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Feed me, feed me, pay attention to me!

I know I'm a moron, but living my early life as a feral child has left me socially awkward and inexperienced. You guys are really my only friends.

I mean, if you dont pay me any attention, I'll have to revert back to my only other outlet for social interaction: Putting a Cal Ripken jersey on my dog and then spreading peanut butter on my manhood for us both to enjoy.

Posted by: P00PY__MCP00P | March 7, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Just posted my thoughts on the 5th starter, along the lines of what is written here.

Posted by: tboss | March 7, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Saving the 9-6-5 story for my wife, who's trying to become a baseball fan.

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 7, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

LMFAO at Boz...he will be writing an article in 5 days about how the Nats have the most promising future in all of baseball.

I just love how everyone is salivating over all the blO's moves. Who did they get that is any good???? A 3rd baseman who cant hold Zimmermans jock....Desmond was better than JJ Hardy last year and is younger....Derrek Lee is washed up and ancient....Vlad is good but what is he 38yrs old??? Do they have any pitchers worth a terd? The Nats wont be much better but will win more games than the blO's again for what its worth.

Its A-OK...atleast Weiters is slated for the HOF at this rate!

LMFAO at the hype surrounding the sorry blO's. Their redneck fans will be hollering for MacFAIL to be fired by mid June when they are 30 games out.

the blo's are a joke...i just cant get over the hype for this season!!!! its beyond funny.

Posted by: Redskins2Win | March 7, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The more I read about Cora the more I want him to have the last spot.

Posted by: hansenjo | March 7, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Well there's at least one redskins2win fan who has been sniffing paint while smoking crank with Charlie Sheen.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 7, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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