Jim Riggleman has called a brief meeting after each game he's managed here in Washington. He has pointed out his players' hard work, citing the infield and outfield drills done before batting practice and how it's paying off.
I asked Joe Beimel if he'd ever experienced a manager calling meetings like that and he told me Joe Torre used to do it in Los Angeles when the Dodgers were struggling.
I asked Jim if he called meetings when he was the manager in Chicago and he said he didn't have to.
Down on the Farm...
Nats bench coach Pat Corrales tells me the farm system is loaded with talent. He spent the first half of this season evaluating what the minor league system is made of.
He told me that for the first time in a long time there is a backlog of players at some positions, and that's a great problem to have.
Pat really liked Jorge Padilla--the Triple-A All-Star is leading all full season minor leaguers with a .363 batting average, and he's hit safely in 27 of his last 28 games played.
Buses for Baseball...
A large group of underprivileged youngsters were guests of the Nationals players through a program called "Buses for Baseball". The Players Trust (the charitable arm of MLB players) reaches out to children across the country and provides transportation and tickets for the kids to come to a game.
I spoke to some of the kids during batting practice and they told me that for most of them it was their first time at a major league ballpark. The kids were thrilled to get autographs from Josh Willingham, Ron Villone and John Lannan, among others. Even skipper Jim Riggleman stopped by to chat with the kids. It was an unforgettable day for the children who motored into D.C. from the Loudon Transitional Housing Program in Virginia and the Eastern Avenue Apartments in Maryland.
In addition to the free tickets, the kids were also given food, beverages and souvenirs. The kids appeared on MASN in the 6th inning, but the best part was they got to see Josh Willingham hit a homer and the Nationals win the game!