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The Nationals have finalized their 2011 25-man roster, a couple days before they had to do so. The team announced it has traded infielder Alberto Gonzalez, a potential candidate to make the team, to the San Diego Padres for 24-year-old minor league pitcher Erik Davis and cash considerations. This cements the 25-man roster.
Gonzalez had a nice Spring Training and had his moments as a utility infielder, but was out of options and therefore out of luck. Davis is a pitcher that went 14-3 with a 3.52 ERA in Single-A and Double-A last season.
The move means veteran Joey Cora will be on the roster as the utility infielder. Here is the final 25-man roster.
We've already seen a number of mild surprises at Nationals spring training, including Rick Ankiel winning the starting center field job, Nyjer Morgan getting dealt and Jayson Werth hitting in the No. 2 hole in the lineup. You can now add another one to the list. The team has decided to keep Laynce Nix as a backup outfielder and will send Roger Bernadina down to the minors.
This comes as a surprise because Bernadina played decently given an extended opportunity to show his skills last season and looked to have the inside track on at least one outfield position this spring. But Michael Morse's strong spring training was enough to win a starting gig, and Ankiel beat out Bernadina in center field. Bernadina also has options left, whereas Nix does not. Therefore, the Nationals evidently decided to keep Nix and not risk losing him altogether.
Bernadina will be sent to Minor League camp, and one can bet he will be called up at some point this season, especially if Nix struggles.
As 2011 Spring Training comes to a close for the Nationals, it has come time to make key decisions on the team's batting order and starting rotation. On the former front, manager Jim Riggleman had an announcement that comes as a mild surprise to some. Riggleman said that Jayson Werth, the team's expensive free-agent acquisition, will hit second, not third or fourth, in the batting order to start the season.
Riggleman says Werth will hit 2nd to open season, with Zim 3rd, LaRoche 4th, Morse 5th.
Werth usually hit sixth when he was with the Phillies, so this way, he is not being miscast as a power hitter. It also gives Riggleman a chance to better take advantage of Werth's speed on the basepaths.
As for the rotation, Zuckerman reports that it'll be Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Marquis and Tom Gorzelanny. He has yet to decide who wins the No. 2 job between Lannan and Zimmermann.
The lone position battle in the Nationals' 2011 Spring Training was in center field, with Rick Ankiel, Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernadina vying for the position. It appears the Nationals have now made a decision, and it's to give the job to Ankiel, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
The Nationals will continue to evaluate Rick Ankiel, Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernadina for their final six spring training games, but they have already reached a near-final decision to make Ankiel their regular center fielder, according to multiple baseball people outside the organization familiar with the team's thinking.
Ankiel has hit poorly this spring, but he is a more consistent fielder, and the team is hoping he can regain his hitting form. Morgan has not been particularly impressive this spring, though he has come on a bit after an extremely slow start.
The question now shifts to Morgan's future. The Nationals have repeatedly expressed their belief in Morgan after he had a difficult year personally and statistically last season, but this is certainly a sign that they don't believe in him like before. The team could keep him as a reserve, send him to the minors or try to trade him. Either way, it does look like the team is moving on from him as a regular piece.
The Nationals have juggled their outfield considerably during Spring Training this year. When camp started, Jayson Werth was the right-fielder (don't worry, that hasn't changed), Nyjer morgan was the center fielder, Roger Bernadina and Michael Morse were fighting for at-bats in left, while Rick Ankiel was brought on board presumably as a defensive replacement and a veteran bat off the bench. So where do we stand now?
Michael Morse has played well enough to lock up the left field spot, while Nyjer Morgan has struggled considerably, putting his hold on the center field job in question. So Roger Bernadina and Rick Ankiel, two players thought to be fighting for at-bats in left, are now competing with Morgan for the every day center field job, and the current leader in the clubhouse might be a bit of a surprise.
Bernadina has played pretty well this Spring, but he is probably the odd man out because he still has a minor league option left on his contract. And I can't imagine the Nationals keep three left handed center fielders on their rosters. I'm not sure anyone would have imagine Rick Ankiel as the opening day center fielder when the Nationals signed him earlier this year.
Danny Espinosa was called up to the Nationals in September last year and made an immediate impact. The team let Adam Kennedy walk in the offseason with the hopes that Espinosa would take over as the team's every day second baseman. During Spring Training, he has shown the ability to be that.
Yesterday he suffered a little bit of a setback. In the seventh inning of a game against the Mets on Tuesday, Espinosa fouled a ball off of his right foot and had to leave the game. The worst case scenario in that type of injury is a broken foot that could keep the player out for months or more. But according to Ben Goessling at MASN, the team is confident that Espinosa doesn't have a broken foot, and he is now listed as day-to-day.
"The more weight he put on it, it wasn't feeling good at all," manager Jim Riggleman said. "I was just concerned that if he happened to hit another one down on there on the next pitch, that it would be excruciating. We got him out of there, and he iced it and stuff. The trainer just feels like it's just a bad bruise."
Goessling also reports that Espinosa was walking around the clubhouse after the injury, and that is something that he would likely not be able to do if the foot was broken.
Bryce Harper was unbelievably impressive during Nationals spring training, but the time has come to send him down to the minor leagues as expected. The Nationals have optioned Harper to Minor League camp, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Harper was expected to make a brief cameo at spring training before eventually being sent down to Single A for his first professional baseball season, but the Nationals kept him around for longer than expected because he performed extremely well. Ultimately, Harper lasted until the third cuts, when many expected he would be gone right away.
Harper will begin his season in Class-A Hagerstown, as expected. He had many outstanding moments in Spring Training, including one game where he hit two doubles and prevented the go-ahead run from scoring with a bullet throw from right field. It's certainly early, but it looks like he will not be a bust on the Major League level.
Bryce Harper continues to make an on-field impact at Nationals spring training. The 18-year-old outfielder played a key role in the Nationals' comeback 14-9 win over the Astros on Monday, smacking two doubles in the eighth inning and saving another run with a bullet throw from right field earlier in the game.
Harper played a role in the Nationals' nine-run eighth inning that turned a 8-4 deficit into a 13-8 lead. He smacked a double early in the inning, then drove in two runs later in the inning to increase the Nationals' lead. He also prevented the Astros from scoring earlier when his throw from right field was far enough to get to home plate. It sailed over catcher Jesus Flores' head, but Drew Storen was there to back it up and save the run.
For the whole spring training, Harper is hitting .308. Maybe the Nationals are impressed enough with him to give him a ... alright, never mind. The Nationals are now 5-3 in spring training, while the Astros dropped to 2-8.
Last offseason, the Nationals signed Chien-Ming Wang to a "make good" contract, even though he was not going to be able to pitch for them last year. The hope was that he would would rehab on the Nationals' dime, and be able to return to the rotation sometime during the 2011 season. That is why they signed him to another contract this offseason.
Well, spring training has rolled around, and Wang doesn't seem to be ready. According to Ben Goessling at MASN, Wang tried to throw in a simulated game today, but was only able to last one inning.
Wang threw 16 pitches, 10 of them strikes, and topped out at 83 mph with his sinker. He was scheduled to go two innings, but McCatty cut the outing short after Wang, who hasn't pitched in a game in almost two years because of shoulder surgery, said his arm felt stiff at the end of his first inning.
"He looked OK," McCatty said. "It was real windy. We were going to go one, possibly two, depending on how he felt. But he was a little bit stiff, so it was one. That's fine with me. It's an ongoing process."
You can't be in a good place when wind is significantly affecting your pitching/stamina. Newly acquired pitcher Tom Gorzellany also threw a simulated game, and his results were a little bit better, if only because he was able to throw the full two innings.
Gorzelanny has been set back this spring because of a sinus infection and some arm stiffness. He threw 26 pitches, 15 of them for strikes. He topped out at 85 mph, and mostly sat between 83 and 84 mph. He's historically thrown in the low 90s, and the Nationals expect him to get to that point as the spring goes on.
The Washington Nationals have a history with pitchers having to undergo Tommy John surgery, with Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburgh being forced to undergo the procedure in the past couple years. Now, you can add another pitcher to the list, though this one is not nearly as significant. Right-handed reliever Cla Meredith, who spent most of last season in the Minors with the Baltimore Orioles, will undergo the procedure, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
Meredith began experiencing elbow pain two weeks ago, and took some time off hoping it would heal. But it did not, as the pain flared back up last Friday. The injury was supposed to be fixed with offseason surgery, but it clearly was not.
Meredith spent most of last year in AAA, but did pitch 15 innings for the Orioles. Manager Jim Riggleman said he was hoping to have him either as a long reliever on the big-league squad or an option in the minors. He had spent the three previous years as a long-relief option for the San Diego Padres, appearing in 80 games in 2007, 73 games in 2008 and 64 in 2009 split between San Diego and Baltimore.
The Nationals are right in the thick of their spring training schedule, which means they'll be playing baseball just about every single day from now until the end of September. Can you even imagine how many sunflower seeds that is? Like a bajillion.
Anywho, the Nationals are back at it again today against the Marlins at 1:05 p.m. in Viera, Fla. The biggest news from Spring Training is Bryce Harper, and he collected his first hit yesterday. Here is what Federal Baseball had to say about it.
Harper's second AB came in the seventh with runners on first and third following back-to-back singles by outfielders Corey Brown and Laynce Nix and a wild pitch by another hard-throwing Mets' right-hander, Bobby Parnell. Harper hit a grounder to first and reached on a fielder's choice when the Mets' first baseman threw home in time to get Corey Brown, who suffered a sprained ankle on the play.
Harper will probably get some playing time again today, as I'm assuming that the Nationals will work him into games in the later innings to try and get him acclimated. So who's ready for Bryce Harper to be a pinch runner today? Check out Federal Baseball for all the news you need to know about the Nationals Spring Training games.
After striking out in his only two plate appearances in the Nationals' 2011 spring training opener on Monday, Bryce Harper has finally gotten a hit. The 18-year old phenom pinch-hit for Jayson Werth and smacked a single in the fifth inning of the Nationals' 5-3 win over the New York Mets at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. Tuesday afternoon.
Harper stepped to the plate against Petro Beato in the fifth inning and laced a 1-0 fastball to left field for a base hit. He ended up getting a second at-bat, where he grounded into a fielder's choice. Harper also spent some time playing in the field for the first time during spring training, replacing Werth in right field.
The Nationals ended up winning despite a shaky ninth inning during which they surrendered two runs. Reliever Drew Storen entered the game and promptly gave up a number of hard-hit balls, but the Nationals were still able to hold on and get the win.
The Washington Nationals kicked off their 2011 spring training schedule with a 9-3 win over the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., but the big news was the professional debut for 2010 No. 1 draft pick Bryce Harper. The 18-year-old phenom did not fare well in his first two plate appearances, striking out in both of them.
Harper entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch-runner for Matt Stairs and remained in the game at designated hitter. In his first at-bat, lefty Taylor Tankersley got him to strike out on three pitches, and he didn't fare any better against Ryota Igarashi. Harper was only expected to make one plate appearance, but ended up making two after his first one went so poorly.
The Nationals ended up winning on the strength of Michael Morse and Ian Desmond, who both hit home runs. Stairs ended up driving in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning before being relieved by Harper.
The Nationals will play the Mets again Tuesday at Space Coast Stadium. Harper is expected to be a late-game replacement for Jayson Werth in right field.
The Washington Nationals' spring training schedule kicks off Monday when the team takes on the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., at 1:10 p.m. This will kick off a rigorous schedule where the Nationals will play at least one game every day from now until March 29.
This will mark the professional debut of 18-year-old phenom Bryce Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. However, don't expect to see very much of Harper on Monday. Manager Jim Riggleman said Harper will only get one plate appearance and will not play in the field. Via Ben Goessling of MASN Sports.
Harper will likely come in as a pinch hitter and be removed from the game after his at-bat, Riggleman said. He'll probably play in the field tomorrow against the Mets at Space Coast Stadium, spelling Jayson Werth in right field.
Chad Gaudin will be the starting pitcher for the Nationals, but is not expected to last very long. Other pitchers available to throw for the Nationals include Craig Stammen, Brian Broderick, Adam Carr, Todd Coffey, Shairon Martis, Doug Slaten, Josh Wilkie and Tim Wood.
Here is today's lineup, via Goessling:
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
RF Michael Morse
DH Matt Stairs
C Wilson Ramos
1B Kevin Barker
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Jerry Hairston Jr.
P Chad Gaudin
Throughout his life, Bryce Harper has been better than he should be at whatever his age was. He was too much for high school players as a sophomore. He bested college players as a junior, and performed admirably in the Arizona Fall League as a teenager. Now, even though he has just turned 18, and has yet to play a minor league game, he is trying to make the major league club in spring training, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
"I'm trying to make this club," Harper said. "I'm going to come out here every day and make their choice hard. If it doesn't happen, then it's going to be great being up here and learning from these guys.
"Why can't it be realistic? Why can't I come in here and think that I can make this team? I've exceeded expectations my whole life."
Kilgore is quick, however (before the quote actually), to mention that the Nats are sending him to Class-A Hagerstown, and that is not going to change. I think Harper probably knows that. But I like the way that he talks about his approach to spring training.
Trying to show the organization how good of a player he already is, but also willing to learn about what it takes to be a major leaguer. Even though he won't make the squad this spring, this could be valuable experience he takes to his first minor league stop.
There will be three story lines you hear from spring training more than any other.
But there are other story lines that you should be paying attention to if you have a vested interest in the Nationals' success this season. The starting rotation is an issue, the lineup could potentially be juggled a dozen times before training camp and what kind of shenanigans will Nyjer Morgan get into?
One of the strengths of the team, however, is their bullpen. They have a lot of talent back there, and they may be getting even better, because one of the team's best prospects right handed reliever Cole Kimball has been making quite the impression early in spring training, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, via Federal Baseball.
"He's a monster," (pitching coach Steve) McCatty said. "You tell them to start warming up, and he throws one 95. He grips it and rips it. He's like the John Daly of pitchers."
As a golf fan, and a John Daly enthusiast, I love that comparison. That is exactly the kind of guy you want coming in as a relief pitcher. He's not there to work around the strike zone or make any friends. He's here to throw the ball past you, and then do that two more times. Kimball is still very young, and I'm not sure he will make the major league roster (he has been wearing No. 62 spring training), but he is definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Bryce Harper reported to Spring Training today and took his first hacks in a Nationals uniform in front of the assembled media. As you may imagine, they had a whole lot to say. Here is the reaction from the twitterverse about Harper's first swings, and the moments leading up to them. I'd recommend following the links.
Harper getting warmed up for his first BP of Nationals spring training http://plixi.com/p/78995922
Ok so it's a shaggy grown out Mohawk for Harper... Swing looks sweet http://plixi.com/p/78996981
Gotta disagree about the mohawk. That looks like a normal haircut from where I'm sitting. A faux-, maybe, but definitely not a mo-. Anywho.
Harper's first swings if spring. First two hit straight back 2 pitcher, then lined one to RF http://plixi.com/p/78996783
All eyes on Bryce Harper and it's just begun. First official workout tomorrow. Got a chance to chat w/Bob Boone http://plixi.com/p/78997482
Bryce Harper is done. He hit about four homers in 40 swings. No oppo boppos. #Nats
So in review, Harper's swing looked good, but he didn't hit the cover off of any baseball's or shatter the light stands in deep right field. But then again, this was only his first day of Spring Training.
Stephen Strasburg participated in the Nationals' pitchers workout at spring training today, a mild surprise given that he only first started throwing a baseball on Jan. 31. He threw for about 15 minutes, from as short as 20 feet and as far as 45 feet, and then did so again a little later while throwing a bit harder. MASN has video of the exchange on its Facebook page.
Overall, he looked fairly good for someone who had Tommy John surgery just five and a half months ago. In an interview afterwards, Strasburg admitted that it is his goal to return to the majors this season. Via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:
"It's obviously a goal," Strasburg said. "But it's out of my control. All I can do is, like I said, is really just go out there and do the throwing program. Execute the schedule. If they feel like I'm ready to go out there by the end of year and pitch, that's going to be great. It's going to be a decision they're going to have to make."
The Nationals' recovery timeline of 12-18 months would mean that Strasburg could pitch in September only if he is right at the beginning of the schedule. It's more likely Nationals fans will have to wait until next season.
Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman spoke to the media for the first time at the teams' 2011 Spring Training in Viera, Fla., and he affirmed that Livan Hernandez and Nyjer Morgan should return to the same roles they occupied last season. Riggleman confirmed that Hernandez will be the team's opening-day starter, and added that Morgan will likely be the leadoff hitter, with shortstop Ian Desmond hitting second.
The news about Hernandez is not a surprise because general manager Mike Rizzo said the same thing a month ago. However, the news about Morgan has been greeted with some disappointment because of Morgan's inability to get on base last season. He had just a .319 on-base percentage in 2010, though he was all the way up at .396 the year before.
You may not believe it, but the 2011 baseball season is just around the corner. Spring Training officially began for the Washington Nationals and all other teams today, as pitchers and catchers reported to Viera, Florida for the first time. A number of other position players, including Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond, are also in Florida already, getting here to get an early start on the proceedings.
The big stories for the Nationals this year surround their marquee players. How much will Stephen Strasburg do as he continues his recovery from Tommy John Surgery? What can we expect from phenom Bryce Harper, who is scheduled to report with the rest of the position players on February 20? How will Werth blend in with this new mix of players? Who will emerge as a fixture in the starting rotation?
We will have more updates in this StoryStream as they happen. For now, check out SB Nation's Nationals blog Federal Baseball's breakdown of the pitchers that will be in Florida this winter.
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