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Eury Perez working on consistent groove in Harrisburg

Center fielder Eury Perez is in another one of his hot-hitting grooves, making good contact and seeing the ball well, now two months into his Double-A Harrisburg season. The (just turned) 22-year old Dominican has gone 15-for-38 (.395) the past 10 games with a double, eight stolen bases, five runs and three RBIs. Perez has struck out only four times during that span and has

Hagerstown’s Matt Purke goes five innings in pro debut (updated)

Left-hander Matt Purke made his professional debut Wednesday at Greensboro for the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns. Purke allowed a controversial two-run homer that appeared foul, and an RBI double, leaving after five innings with the Suns down 5-3. He finished scattering seven hits, allowing five runs, five walks and struck out one on an estimated 83 pitches. The home run appeared close to being or

Despite rain-shortened rehab game, Morse “felt great”

WOODBRIDGE, Va. - Despite a rain-shortened game, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse was able to get two plate appearances in for high Single-A Potomac Nationals in their game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Wednesday night at Pfitzner Stadium. Morse walked and struck out, finishing 0-for-1 in a pair of opportunities, before the rain arrived and suspended the game in the top of the fifth with two

In-game update for Michael Morse at Potomac with walk and strikeout

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- Nationals left fielder Michael Morse, batting third, is the designated hitter for the Potomac Nationals in their contest against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. In the bottom of the first with two outs, against Pelicans’ right-hander Roman Mendez, Morse walked on a 3-2 count. He swung and missed with the count 2-0 and then fouled back the fourth pitch to the screen. Morse

Purke to make pro debut Wednesday morning in Greensboro

Nationals pitching prospect Matt Purke will make his professional debut Wednesday for Hagerstown, according to a club source. Purke will start for the Suns, the Nationals’ Single-A affiliate, as they finish up a three-game series Wednesday morning at Greensboro. Game time 10:45 a.m. No details on if Purke is on an innings limit or pitch count for this first start. For Purke, 2012 has been

Nationals’ Morse batting third as designated hitter tonight in Potomac rehab tilt

The Potomac Nationals have announced their lineup for tonight’s 7::05 p.m. matchup with Myrtle Beach. Michael Morse bats third: Blake Kelso 3B Adrian Sanchez 2B Michael Morse DH David Freitas C Ricky Hague SS Justin Bloxom 1B Michael Taylor CF JP Ramirez RF Kevin Keyes LF LHP Matt Grace (2-6, 6.70) His future rehab schedule is predicated on how batting practice and the game goes

Harrisburg’s Hood placed on disabled list, Kobernus out with thumb injury

Double-A Harrisburg Senators outfielder Destin Hood was slowed last week when he was under the weather and missed a doubleheader. But now Hood is dealing with a physical injury, and he hasn’t played since May 24. Senators manager Matt Lecroy talked about Hood’s injury with me Sunday on “Nats Insider,” heard on 106.7 The Fan. “He is going through a wrist issue,” Lecroy said. “He

Nationals not waiting til next year with latest moves

The Nationals are signaling with their latest moves that this is the year. In the past, if a starter labored or went into a bad two- or three-start slump, the Nationals would stand pat, not able to make a significant change because they did not have the depth or alternative to solve the problem instantly. But through the work of ownership, general manager Mike Rizzo

Nationals’ NL East dominance a good sign for pennant run

The Nationals have now won every series they have played against National League East opponents, currently 10-3 versus Atlanta (2-0), Philadelphia (4-2), Miami (2-0) and the N.Y. Mets (2-1). This is a good time to be playing well because the schedule is all within the division for two weeks. The Nationals are in the middle of 15 straight games against NL East combatants. After tonight’s

Former Nationals hurler Milone right at home in California

Continuing to display the promise demonstrated in his Nationals late-season introduction, left-hander Tommy Milone is off to a great start with the Oakland Athletics. Through nine starts, the former Nationals hurler has gone 6-3 with a 3.75 ERA, recording 32 strikeouts to lead the Athletics. The southpaw has adjusted well, returning to his home state in a trade with pitchers Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole,

Zimmerman hit solidifies 7-4 Nationals win in Atlanta

It has not been the start Ryan Zimmerman wanted to have this season. Recovering from an injury and mustering only eight extra-base hits, his average has hovered below .250 in 30 games. You could tell the veteran was waiting for a game or an at-bat to break out of it. Baseball is a game of opportunity. That chance knocked on the door in the latter

Nationals and Braves lineups for Friday opener in Atlanta

Fresh off taking two of three from the Phillies, the Nationals venture to Turner Field tonight to take on the Atlanta Braves. Here is Davey Johnson’s lineup: Steve Lombardozzi LF Bryce Harper RF Ryan Zimmerman 3B Adam LaRoche 1B Ian Desmond SS Danny Espinosa 2B Rick Ankiel CF Jesus Flores C Ross Detwiler LHP Detwiler is 3-3 with a 3.65 ERA. This will be his

Purke with another solid step forward in Florida

One week after his last extended spring training game, left-hander Matt Purke took to the mound yesterday in Viera, Fla., for six innings and a club official said he “pitched well.” Purke threw five innings last week, according to a club source, and his fastball hit 92 mph. On Thursday, Purke threw one more inning than last time and his velocity was “good,” the official

Could the Nationals have three or four players in the All-Star Game?

Every year, as the All-Star Game chatter gets going, the talk in Nationals nation is who they hope might get asked to be invited as a manager’s choice, not which Nationals will actually be voted in or even how many will go. And usually the conversation centers around a Ryan Zimmerman or a Drew Storen. Every once and awhile a deserving Tyler Clippard or Dmitri

Garcia, Nelo and Davis making waves in Harrisburg (Hood update)

I have some updates on the pitching staff at Double-A Harrisburg, with a focus on the bullpen. The Senators swept a doubleheader from Altoona on Wednesday, once again thanks to the pitchers keeping the score down, 5-3 and 3-2. A lot of talk has surrounded the emergence of former Yankees prospect right-hander Christian Garcia, who has fought back from a pair of Tommy John surgeries.

A little run support was all Zimmermann needed to stun the Phillies

You must have felt a measure of added joy for Jordan Zimmermann in the third inning. He finally got a chance to look up at the scoreboard and see four runs on the board for his team. 4-1. Alright, now we are talking. Zimmermann came in averaging just 2.4 runs of support per game when he is in the contest. So four runs had to

Move Stammen to closer’s role, activate Wang

With another extremely uncomfortable ninth-inning save opportunity almost thrown away, the Nationals and manager Davey Johnson need to make a decision. Johnson told the media he would sleep on what happened to reliever Henry Rodriguez on Monday in Philadelphia. Without the literal save by Sean Burnett, Rodriguez was on the rocky road to his fourth blown save of the season. It is obvious Rodriguez has

Johnson believes Gonzalez can do more with less

Everyone loves to see the strikeouts. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez had plenty of them Monday in a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at a wet Citizens Bank Park. Finishing with nine strikeouts, Gonzalez yo-yoed back over Stephen Strasburg (64), for the team lead, and is now holding onto the major league top spot with 69 punchouts in nine starts. More importantly, Gonzalez tallied another team

Leading off didn’t put added pressure on Espinosa

On Saturday, Danny Espinosa was out of the lineup after laboring through a 3-for-18 home stand. Then in the late innings, with the game on the line, Espinosa was summoned for a key pinch-hitting appearance. He lined the ball hard, but right at outfielder Xavier Avery for the out. Then Sunday, Espinosa was back in the lineup - and where else but leading off for

Purke will continue to pitch in Florida this week

Left-hander Matt Purke will remain at the Nationals’ training facility this week, continuing to build up innings as he makes his way back to being ready for his minor league debut. As I reported here last week, Purke pitched five innings Thursday in Viera, Fla. The schedule this week calls for Purke to go five innings again on Thursday, according to Nationals director of player

Harper’s big offense outweighs outfield misplay

Look out to left and center field in the top of the first inning and the two players on defense for the Nationals had a combined 32 major league games at their defensive positions. Even looking at their minor league careers, Bryce Harper (129) and Tyler Moore (3) combined for just 132 total games in the outfield. Then, in the top of the second, Orioles

Jackson’s outstanding effort lost in extra-inning lid-lifter

3-2 count. Fastball low, walk. Tough to allow a baserunner in any situation, but having it be the Orioles’ leadoff hitter, Xavier Avery, on the first at-bat of the game proved more costly in a tight contest. Avery was able to come around to score the first run of the game, thanks to a double by Nick Markakis and a single from Adam Jones. But

Catch him if you can: Burns flying in Hagerstown

Outfielder Billy Burns has been entertaining the fans of low Single-A Hagerstown with his play and speed in the first month and a half of the season. The Nationals have also taken notice of the Marietta, Ga., product. The 22-year-old put on a signature display of what he is capable of Thursday in the 13-11 win over Delmarva. Burns went 1-for-4 with two runs, a

Purke has positive outing in Florida, could make pro debut next week

Southpaw Matt Purke had a strong showing Thursday in Florida, as he regains strength and lengthens out in preparation for his minor league debut. In extended spring training, Purke went five innings, and his fastball was clocked at 92 mph, according to a Nationals source. The team has continued to build up Purke in a progression similar to what a rehabbing major league player would

Brian Goodwin to be activated Friday and start

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Low Single-A outfielder Brian Goodwin has been out of the lineup since April 9 after suffering a quad injury running to first base on a single. He was able to play only five games, but hit .375 with a double, two homers, two stolen bases and eight RBIs. Finally, after missing more than a month, one of the top selections in last

Matt Skole’s two-homer game helps him shake off slump

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Low Single-A Hagerstown Suns third baseman Matt Skole turned in an impressive performance last week, going 4-for-4 with two homers, four runs and five RBIs in a win over Hickory on May 15. That highlight game emphasized how well Skole has been performing at the plate so far this season, hitting .303 with seven doubles, eight homers and 41 RBIs in 35

Former Longhorn Keyes making steady progress in Potomac

Potomac Nationals outfielder Kevin Keyes made a big splash as one of the top home run hitters in the system with his play in 2011, and although the competition has ramped up in high Single-A, Keyes believes he is making progress in preparing for the better pitching he sees now at this advanced level. “The Carolina League is an adjustment,” Keyes said. “It is a

Combo of stopper Gonzalez, closer Rodriguez helps Nats to 7-4 victory over Bucs

There is a method to Davey’s madness: leave him in. The strategy worked in two ways as starter Gio Gonzalez and closer Henry Rodriguez fought through varying threats to hold off the Pirates 7-4 on Wednesday. Gonzalez’s line was impressive again, taking over the major league lead in strikeouts, momentarily, with 60 punch-outs courtesy of 10 strikeouts against Pittsburgh. Leading 4-1, Gonzalez gave up a

Storen right on schedule in recovery from elbow surgery

Right-hander Drew Storen remains with the team in D.C. as he continues his rehab from elbow surgery to remove a bone chip. Storen soft-tossed 100 throws Wednesday, the same number he threw Monday. He did two sets of 50 throws, 25 at 45 feet and 25 from 60 feet. Storen will have another day off tomorrow. “It feels all right,” Storen said. “It is right

Tyler Moore ready for start against Pirates, not rusty from wait

Nationals Tyler Moore gets the start in left field Wednesday in the series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Finally. Moore started in his first game in a Nationals uniform against the Dodgers back on April 29. In only his ninth game - so far he has only gone 2-for-11 (.182) without an extra base hit - Moore gets a chance to start at Nationals Park

Fly ball misplay was swing Padres needed against Strasburg

It looked like an innocent pop up between left field and right field midway towards the warning track from the first hitter of the game, Padres right fielder Will Venable. Nationals left fielder Roger Bernadina and center fielder Rick Ankiel, as well as right fielder Bryce Harper converged on the fly ball. Bernadina and Ankiel appeared to look down at each other as they tracked

Johnson’s familiar lineup card starting to pay dividends for Nationals

The lineup is starting to show a familiar refrain. Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina. Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper. Danny Espinosa and Rick Ankiel. The catching spot. The starting pitcher. Johnson said the genesis of this particular starting nine was given boost into motion when he had a conversation with outfielder Roger Bernadina, who was off to a slow start due in part

How close was Stephen Strasburg to being a Padre?

It was the close of a miserable 2008 campaign. The Nationals were in the midst of losing 14 of their final 17 games en route to dismal 59-102 overall mark. In late September 2008, the San Diego Padres traveled to D.C. for a three-game set against the Nationals. The Padres swept the Nationals - winning 11-6 in 14 innings, 6-1 and 6-2 during a weekend

Harper not embarrassed by bat-to-face incident

Before Monday’s series opener against the Padres, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper said his left eye was feeling better three days after he struck himself with his bat off a runway wall in the Cincinnati visitors’ clubhouse. The pain had subsided and he didn’t have to sleep a certain way to avoid laying on his left side. When asked if the injury was embarrassing, Harper

Burnett saves H-Rod and roller coaster night at Nats Park

The Nationals lost another catcher. Bryce Harper hit his first major league homer. Down 5-4, Ian Desmond smacked 2-run double. Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady added insurance solo shots. Nationals led 8-5. Someone please find the off switch for this roller coaster. This is Nationals Park not Kings Dominion. Showing confidence again in his young closer, manager Davey Johnson summoned Henry Rodriguez for the ninth

Report: Rendon’s season “likely over” due to ankle injury (with Nationals’ response)

High Single-A Potomac Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon has been recovering from a fractured left ankle at his home in Texas. There had been some hope that Rendon would be able to return some time before the end of the season, but Rendon told Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle that his season is likely done. “I’m probably not going to come back this year,”

Sandy Leon earned promotion with play, not proximity to big league club

Nationals catcher Sandy Leon was all-smiles as he got dressed Monday in front of his locker, located between fellow Venezuelan receivers Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. Leon got the call to the big leagues from Double-A Harrisburg after an unfortunate right knee injury to Ramos, who may miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Leon was not selected because he was closer

Latest updates on Purke, Rendon and Goodwin

According to a team source, prospect third baseman Anthony Rendon, who fractured his ankle in early April, remains immobilized and has yet to begin physical therapy on that ankle. Rendon is maintaining a workout regimen to strengthen his legs, core and arms, but nothing yet to his left ankle. Left-hander Matt Purke has thrown three innings within the last week in Florida and looks to

Hagerstown’s Goodwin could be good to go by end of the week

Ever since outfielder Brian Goodwin went down with a quad injury running to first base after a single April 9, many have wondered when the former Miami Dade College star would return to low Single-A Hagerstown. Goodwin was a prized 2011 draft selection by the Nationals and is still touted as a future leadoff hitter/center fielder with the speed and plus-plus tools to become and

Call-up Leon has made huge strides last two seasons

Due to a torn right ACL sustained by starting catcher Wilson Ramos, another top prospect in the Nationals’ system will get a shot at the big leagues earlier than planned. But the Nationals are confident Sandy Leon is ready for this next challenge because of the talent he has shown on the field at Double-A Harrisburg. Assistant general manager Bob Boone and assistant to the

Shark sighting: Bernadina starts offense two games in a row

Left fielder Roger Bernadina’s big bat has returned at just the right time, helping to ignite the Nationals’ offense two games in a row. Down 2-0 at Pittsburgh Thursday, Bernadina crushed a solo homer to cut the Pirates lead to 2-1. The Nationals eventually won the game, 4-2. Friday, Bernadina taxed Cincinnati starter Mike Leake for 10 pitches in the first frame before blasting a

Report: Nationals and Angels talking Bourjos

Before the season, the Nationals focused on acquiring a starting center fielder. Some talks centered around Los Angeles Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos. With injuries to the Nationals outfielders, especially to starting right fielder Jayson Werth, this FOXSports.com report indicates those talks may be heating up. The 25-year old Bourjos has seen his playing time dwindle ever since the Angels called up prospect Mike Trout. Bourjos

Lehman’s work ethic “rubbed off” on Harrisburg hurlers

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” -- Vince Lombardi Coaching is always crucial to how well prospects move along in the system. Coaching by teammates can also be critical for a player’s development. Pitchers have more downtime. Starters have five days between outings. That downtime lends itself to comparing grips on curve balls and split fingers. Guys go over their schedules

Rizzo on Espinosa’s struggles: “They are called averages for a reason”

General manager Mike Rizzo endorsed second baseman Danny Espinosa during the weekly “Mike Rizzo Show with Holden and Danny,” Wednesday on sports radio 106.7 The Fan in D.C. Espinosa has slumped to .186 this season after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the series opener at Pittsburgh Tuesday night. The switch-hitting 24-year-old from Santa Ana, Calif., has hit just one home run and is 0-for-14

News and notes on Espinosa, Harper, Rizzo and more

Manager Davey Johnson said on “Nats Xtra” postgame that he is concerned about Danny Espinosa’s struggles at the plate after Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He confirmed, however, that Espinosa will be in his lineup Wednesday. Espinosa went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. His batting average dropped to .186. Although he struck out in his only pinch-hit, Steve Lombardozzi is hitting .300. Lombardozzi has

Injury-free, Oduber adjusting to new level of competition

Right-handed hitter Randolph Oduber is making the step-by-step transition from low Single-A Hagerstown to high Single-A Potomac and getting adjusted to his new surroundings and new teammates. Oduber said teammates Kevin Keyes, Michael Taylor and Wade Moore have developed good camaraderie working the Pfitzner Stadium outfield through the first month of the season. “It is going really good,” Oduber said. “Our communication is really good

Bryce Harper that kind of a player to pull off a steal of home

It was a statement play by Phillies All-Star starter Cole Hamels. With two outs in the first, he hit Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the lower back with a pitch. With two outs in the opening frame after walking the 19-year old the entire series, the Phillies were looking to put what they thought was a brash young player in his place. Hamels told the

Nationals’ start the best since return to D.C.

The Nationals are off to their best start since their arrival in D.C. in 2005. To put the start in perspective, look back at the first 27 games of each season. After 27 games in 2012, the Nationals are 18-9. And before that? * In 2011, they were 13-14. * In 2010, they were 14-13. * In 2009, they were 9-18. * In 2008, they

Rosenbaum, Lehman part of Harrisburg pitching surge

The Double-A Harrisburg Senators’ pitching staff has been focused and locked in from the beginning of the season, according to pitching coach Paul Menhart. “It is a great group, they work hard and look to get better every day, it has shown in the way they have been pitching early on,” Menhart said. The proof is in the statistics. The staff boasts a 3.11 ERA

Harper does it again, going opposite field and guiding Nats past D-backs

You might want to see this. Every night, the starters go six innings-plus. And ever since the 19-year old has been called up, something very interesting happens. Thursday, it happened again. Left fielder Bryce Harper crushed an opposite-field RBI double to break a 1-1 tie and give the Nationals a 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks. The pitching staff held the lead. Thanks to Ross Detwiler

Danny Espinosa adjusting to new set of challenges

Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa wants to get going at the plate. Manager Davey Johnson wants his young infielder to do so as well, and sees Espinosa making progress. Shortstop Ian Desmond said it earlier this season when asked why he likes Johnson as a manager. One of the reasons he spotlighted was how Johnson sticks with you, even when you go through a rough

Desmond leads by example with walk-off rocket

Shortstop Ian Desmond kept going back to belief. It was Tuesday night, after another rough loss where the pitching staff had done their job for the most part, but the Nationals bats had stayed cold. Standing in front of his locker in the Nationals clubhouse, Desmond looked for ways to explain how his team had managed only seven runs in five games. He said that

Rizzo: prospects Purke and Ray making progress

Nationals prospect Rick Hague has returned to high Single-A Potomac after starting the season in extended spring training. Since Hague has been called up to his minor league team, the questions are now focused on the status of left-handers Matt Purke and Robbie Ray. Both hurlers have been in Florida continuing to work at the Nationals’ facility. It is not known for sure what the

Harper’s close plays showed unbridled potential in home debut

Nationals fans welcomed their young phenom Bryce Harper to Nationals Park for his home debut Tuesday in the 5-1 setback to the Arizona Diamondbacks. When announced for his first at-bat, Harper got a large roar from the partisan 22,675 in attendance. He struck out in his first battle with D-backs starter Trevor Cahill, but still got another rousing applause from the hometown fans as he

Rizzo says Harper delivering as expected in early returns

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made the decision to call up 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper on Saturday. After two games, Rizzo said Harper showed exactly what he had shown in the minor leagues, a player that can hit, hit for power and go after every ball in the outfield. Rizzo said Harper’s final at-bat was his best of the weekend when he earned a walk

Zimmerman’s progress on schedule for possible Sunday return

Positive news on the progress of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who threw Tuesday during batting practice and his throwing motion looked good. Zimmerman has been out with right shoulder inflammation of the AC joint. Manager Davey Johnson said Zimmerman can’t hit until the weekend. The doctors don’t think he can re-injure his shoulder by swinging. The injury occurred hitting the ground diving for a ball

Hague finally returns to Potomac Nationals

The Nationals have activated shortstop Rick Hague to Single-A Potomac’s roster. The 6-foot-2, 190 lb., infielder missed over a year with dislocated shoulder suffered in the first week of last season. Hague went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, scored a run and had two strikeouts in his first game back in Woodbridge, Va., since April 2011. When healthy, Hague is considered one of the

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