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Nationals encouraged by solid defense in opener

The Nationals dropped a hard-fought 2-0 late-March lid-lifter to the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, unable to generate offense against a solid pitching performance from veteran Derek Lowe. In his ninth career opening day start, Nationals starter Livan Hernandez was equal to the task, allowing just two runs, and the Washington bullpen surrendered just two hits in the final 2 2/3 innings. After two early

Double-A Harrisburg releases 2011 roster

The Double-A Harrisburg Senators today announced their 2011 roster, which includes Carolina Player of the Year Tyler Moore, Derek Norris, Jimmy Barthmaier, Pat McCoy, Hassan Pena, Tim Pahuta, Bill Rhinehart, Steve Lombardozzi and Jesus Valdez. The roster also includes recently acquired pitcher Erik Davis, obtained from San Diego in the Alberto Gonzalez deal. Tony Beasley is in his first season as the Senators’ manager. Here’s

Prospect update: Milone gets out of rough first, settles in

Nationals left-handed pitching prospect Tom Milone got off to a slow start Wednesday, then settled down and had a smooth second and third innings in a Viera, Fla., instrasquad matchup. “The first inning wasn’t good. I was leaving balls over the middle of the plate,” Milone said. Milone ended up going three innings, allowed four hits, three runs, no walks and struck out three. Milone

Riggleman, Rizzo on expectations for 2011

What are the expectations for the Nationals in the eyes of manager Jim Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo? Would 75 wins be considered a good season? How about 80 victories? A playoff berth? A winning record? Rizzo was asked if he would be pleased with 80 wins on 106.7 The Fan’s Mike Wise Show Thursday, and replied, “It depends on how we reach 80

Pudge tutored Norris on catching the next level

Nationals catcher Derek Norris is in Washington working out with the big league club before he embarks on his first season with Double-A Harrisburg. Norris is coming off a very good spring at the plate, and was able to work on his defense to the point where he feels confident in his setup behind the plate. That was the part of his game that he

Prospect progress for Hague, Norris, Lombo, Oduber and Moore

I have more positive updates on some of the offensive stars that are making noise in the accelerated camp. There are a bunch of guys who are making good progress and demanding the attention of the coaching staff. Nationals hitting instructor Rick Schu gave me details on a few of the players: Rick Hague, Tyler Moore, Stephen Lombardozzi, Randolph Oduber and Derek Norris. (Don’t worry

Updates on Solis, Milone and NatsFest

Nationals minor league pitcher Sammy Solis has been held out for a few days with a minor quadriceps injury. “I tweaked my quad while running, so I have been taking it easy and getting it back to 100 percent,” Solis said. Nationals minor league pitcher Tom Milone was a little disappointed that the rain this week postponed his his scheduled start in Monday’s major league

Prospects Harper and Taylor could patrol same outfield for Suns

Nationals hitting coordinator Rick Schu gave me an update on how some of the young hitters are doing in the accelerated camp during spring training. We start with the biggest name in camp in Bryce Harper, who returned to the lineup Sunday and was able to smack a double and score a run early on in the game. Another prospect you may have not heard

Prospects Holder and Tatusko continue to refine skills

Here are progress updates for a pair of right-handed pitchers, Trevor Holder and Ryan Tatusko. Holder split last season between Single-A Hagerstown and Single-A Potomac, going 7-6 with a 3.64 ERA in 26 starts. He struck out 102 batters and allowed 29 walks. The 24-year old would like to cut down on his home runs allowed, with 11 of 14 surrendered for the season coming

Prospect Meyers pain-free again and ready for season

Nationals right-handed pitching prospect Brad Meyers is finally injury-free again and ready to continue his trek towards the majors after dealing with a major foot problem all of last season. The 6-foot-6, 195-lb. hurler from Los Angeles, Calif., had a positive result in his most recent outing on Tuesday. Meyers threw four innings, allowed two runs, only one was earned on a solo homer, three

Scouting the Marlins: Who will replace Uggla’s power?

We continue our tour around the National League East as we stop in Miami. Tommy Hutton, a former major leaguer and current Marlins broadcaster who has been around baseball for 47 years, breaks down the 2011 Florida Marlins and what to expect. The biggest off season change was the trade of All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves. How does that alter the

Prospect Milone delivers best outing of spring

Nationals left-handed pitcher Tom Milone has had a couple of outings since our last update, but he felt Tuesday was his best start of spring training. Milone went four innings, allowing three hits, no runs, no walks and striking out two batters. “It went good,” Milone said. “It felt the best I have felt so far in camp. I had command on every pitch. My

Source: Harper could be back on field within a week

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo reported Tuesday on the status of Nationals outfield prospect Bryce Harper, who injured his ankle Monday running the bases. The diagnosis was a “medium” left ankle sprain. The return date was unclear and Harper has been listed as day-to-day. A minor league official with knowledge of the situation is more specific about Harper’s possible return, saying the Nats’ top prospect

Prospect Peacock adds two-seamer; updates progress

Nationals right-handed pitcher Brad Peacock put in a lot of work in his most recent outing at accelerated camp as he tinkers with a new pitch. “It went alright,” Peacock said. “The first guy I faced fouled off like 10 pitches. I am still working on some stuff.” Peacock threw three innings this time, and expects to go four innings with a maximum 60 pitches

Despite demotion, Kimball remains determined to reach Bigs this year

Nationals right-handed reliever Cole Kimball was demoted to Triple-A Syracuse Thursday, but didn’t let the move change the way he approaches each day. Some had written Kimball took the news hard, but 15 minutes after finding out he’d been sent down, he was back on the field stretching, following his normal time schedule at camp. Despite the move to the minor league camp, the numbers

Focus at minor league camp on pitching fundamentals

Minor league camp is in full swing as they get into a daily game schedule similar to what the players will see in early April. The pitchers have focused on fundamentals from day one, but there is a precise term and action the coaching staff wants to see the guys do with every pitch. On the mound, the coaching staff wants the guys to concentrate

Nats “cautiously optimistic” as Meyers recovers from foot injury

Nationals pitching prospect Brad Meyers, who was limited to just six starts last season due to a foot injury, continues to steadily work his way back each day of spring training in Viera, Fla. “He has responded very well to treatment,” Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said. “He is taking regular repetitions. We are cautiously optimistic.” Harris said the right-handed Meyers is recovering

Prospects Leon and Freitas catching attention in minor league camp

Nationals catching prospects Sandy Leon and David Freitas are getting their work in at the accelerated camp after completing very solid 2010 seasons, Leon with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns and Freitas with the Short-Season Single-A Vermont Lake Monsters. Leon made notable progress with Hagerstown in 2010, playing in 98 games and accruing 325 at-bats. Leon hit .249 with 10 doubles, six triples a pair of

Prospect Ray “opening up eyes” with solid start

Nationals pitching prospect Robbie Ray had a solid first outing last week, tossing two innings, allowing no hits and no runs. The left-hander threw a light bullpen Saturday and expects to pitch again Tuesday, possibly extending to three innings. Ray was pleased with his first chance in a game. He worked in his three main pitches: fastball, changeup and slider. “I was feeling pretty good,”

Cole fights through early jam in first outing, pleased with results

Nationals prospect A.J. Cole pitched for the first time at accelerated camp in a game versus Italy this week. The right-hander went one inning, allowing two walks, no hits and no runs on 18 pitches. Cole said it took him a few pitches to get going, but then he got into a rhythm. “At first, it was a little slow but it got a little

Baseball Prospectus sees “good things on the horizon” for Nats

The Nationals hope this is the season they make their way out of the cellar of the National League East and get some momentum going for what promises to be an enticing future as top prospects and No. 1 picks make their way to Nats Park. What do some of the experts think? Can the Nats make a pre-emptive strike in the NL East before

Milone concentrating on getting lefties out

Nationals minor league Pitcher of the Year Tom Milone started against the Houston Astros on Tuesday and pitched well, allowing just one hit over two innings of shutout ball with no walks and no strikeouts. The left-hander, in Nationals accelerated camp and facing Houston minor leaguers, threw between 20 to 25 pitches, inducing a pair of flyouts and three groundouts. “It felt good coming out

Norris confident his defense will catch up to his offense

Derek Norris received high praise this week from manager Jim Riggleman, who has been impressed with the way camp has started for the Nationals’ top catching prospect. Norris feels completely healthy after battling through injuries last season. His 2010 campaign was slowed by a broken bone in his hand before the season began. In May, he was hit by a pitch in his head and

Solis tosses two no-hit innings during Sunday scrimmage

Nationals left-hander Sammy Solis pitched a pair of no-hit innings in Sunday’s scrimmage pitting Washington farmhands against Houston Astros prospects. Solis threw the seventh and eighth innings and, after a shaky start, settled down and dominated. “First guy, I got to 0-2 and hit him,” Solis said. “It was just a little jitters. It was the first time seeing an opposing hitter in there so

Nationals prospects to scrimmage Sunday

Nationals prospects are getting up to speed (pardon the pun) at the accelerated minor league camp. Big workouts are set for today with a large group coming down on their own from every minor league team in the Nats organization. The first scrimmage is scheduled for tomorrow. The coaches have worked them out over the past two weeks and two dozen pitchers have been able

Scouting the Mets: Harris adjusting well to new team

The New York Mets’ offseason was littered with news about the financial troubles of owner Fred Wilpon and his dealings with disgraced financier Bernie Madoff. The bad news off the field continues to plague the Mets well into spring training. Steve Popper, who covers the Mets for The (Bergen) Record, says it is hard to ignore the ownership issues and how that might affect the

Scouting the Phillies: Utley injury early concern

Chase Utley’s injury has dominated news out of the Phillies camp in Clearwater, Fla., early in March, according to Matt Gelb, who covers the team for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Utley is nursing patellar tendinitis in his right knee, and the team is not sure when he is going to play. A few Nationals fans wonder if the Phillies miss Jayson Werth so far in spring

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