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Homestand kicks off with All-Star balloting

The Nationals return home after a six-game road trip out west. Things started out well, as the Nats took two of three in San Diego, but a sweep by the Dodgers has Washington looking to rebound upon its return to Nationals Park. One thing a homestand also ensures is another set of perks and incentives for fans to get out to the ballpark and root

Ted Leavengood: A Hollywood script with much left to write

No team in the National League East had a better April than the Nationals, and Saturday night the Hollywood script writers worked over time on a fairy tale ending. Bryce Harper's first game in the major leagues was the setting. It drew so much press attention to Dodger Stadium that the Queen of England could have slipped into town unnoticed. Harper may have been the

Dave Nichols: A dose of reality in an unreal start

The Nationals, now 14-4, own the best record in the National League, just a half-game behind the Texas Rangers for the best record in all of baseball. Heady stuff. Of course, a .778 winning percentage is impossible to keep up, but the Nats have taken strong advantage of a weak early schedule to race out to a good start. The pitching has, of course, been

Rachel Levitin: Die-hard Nats fans have been waiting for this

As it stands, the Nationals are 13-4 and the division rival Phillies are 8-10. It's early yet, but that doesn't mean it's not fun for fans to fantasize about winning baseball in Washington. This tiny taste of what it feels like to sit atop the standings for more than a day or two is special for long-time Nats fans. It's been less than a decade,

Joe Drugan: It's time to give Lombardozzi a chance

The Nationals have come out guns blazing in the first 16 games of the 2012 season. The guns that are blazing thus far are radar guns from the pitching staff, though. The Nationals offense has struggled mightily in the first few weeks of the season, ranking 20th in batting average, 21st in runs, and 23rd in slugging. It's time to switch things up in NatsTown,

Ted Leavengood: A flood of riches

The rain is falling on the mound, It's falling on the plate, But when the Nats are 12 and 4, The next game's worth the wait. - Ted Leavengood There is nothing cloudy or damp about the superlatives being used to describe the Nationals' pitching staff. However, it is dedicated Nationals fans who are most aware of what it all means as they behold the

Marty Niland: How will the Nats handle coming down to Earth?

There's not much a baseball team can do about games like the Nationals' 11-4 loss Thursday night to the Houston Astros. The pitching, overpowering so far in 2012, was shelled for 17 hits, including three triples off starter Edwin Jackson in the first inning. The bullpen offered little relief, with Tom Gorzelanny surrendering six runs and eight hits of his own. Aside from Ryan Zimmerman's

Dave Nichols: Nats getting on base, but sluggers are struggling

The Nationals are far and away off to their best start since arriving in D.C. in 2005. It's fun going to the ballpark with a reasonable expectation that the Nats' starting pitcher is going to keep the team in the game, if not downright dominate the competition. In fact, with the five starters all on a roll right now, you get the feeling that each

Holliday to be inducted in DC Basketball Hall of Fame

Only weeks after receiving the Golden Pioneer Award, an annual award given out by his high school alma mater for alumni who have made a huge impact, the accolades keep coming for Nationals and Hall of Fame broadcaster Johnny Holliday. Holliday, along with six other famous icons in the D.C. sports region, will be honored as the newest members of the Washington DC Metropolitan Basketball

Rachel Levitin: Arms race redefines game's growth from traditional to modern

There was a time, back in the first year of the National League, when the same pitcher threw nearly every game of the season. That was 1876. Jim Devlin started and completed 68 of 69 games played by Louisville. Back then, the ball was thrown underhand and pitching careers were shorter. It wasn't until 1884 that pitchers were allowed to toss overhand - closer to

Joe Drugan: Be wary of April standings

The Nationals are off to the best start since their arrival in D.C., and there is a lot to be excited about, including one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and a team full of young talent. If you look at the standings this morning, it's easy to get even more elated to see the Nats in first place. Before you do get too

Ted Leavengood: Always springtime in D.C.

The flowers remain in full bloom, the weather as gorgeous as a quad full of coeds and the Nationals took three of four from a good Cincinnati team over the weekend to move their record to 7-3. There was a billboard near the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta for many years that read, "It's Always Springtime at Bulldog Bonding." Always springtime? I think I could

Springsteen to bring Wrecking Ball Tour to Nationals Park on Sept. 14

If you can withstand the Nationals' early-season offensive funk, you're guaranteed a bunch of hits and an error-free performance at Nationals Park on Friday, Sept. 14. And, yes, I know full well the Nationals are playing in Atlanta that evening. According to this blog post at USAToday.com, Nationals Park is among a series of stadiums that will play host later this year to iconic rocker

Marty Niland: The Nationals' two-hit starters

For Nationals fans - and fans of great starting pitching - the past three games may seem like days in heaven. From the beginning of Tuesday's win over the New York Mets, the starters have been on a roll, racking up a string of 18 scoreless innings in the team's three-game winning streak. In their respective starts, Ross Detwiler on Tuesday, Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday

Dave Nichols: Enjoy Nats' good start while it lasts

Not since 1951 has a Washington baseball team enjoyed an above-.500 start to a Major League Baseball season after a mere six games. Uncanny, isn't it? You would think, in the next 20 years after that, before the city lost baseball, or in the seven since it has returned, it would have happened once. It's not that hard to do. Teams have winning streaks all

Rachel Levitin: Nats making inroads into national consciousness

About a month ago, I found myself at Reagan National Airport talking baseball during March Madness. My fellow bar patrons gathered around the television sets with pints in hand, agonizing over the first round of their bracket selections. It was during that time that a few of us faithful broke off into our own conversation about baseball. Here I was, stuck - caught between a

Will Yoder: With Storen out, we may finally get a good gauge of his value

What is Drew Storen worth? It's a question that has been debated pretty heavily since the Nationals used their No. 10 overall pick to draft the talented reliever in 2009. In fact, it's fair to say that Storen, the team's 23-year-old stopper who recorded 43 saves last year, has been one of the more divisive characters on the team's roster among pundits, bloggers, and fans

Nationals to unveil new menu options at home opener

Dinner's ready, y'all! Come and get it! Alright, since it's way too hard to type and ring my triangular dinner bell at the same time, let me just get straight to the point: Nationals Park is a food lover's paradise. It's true. It seems like each season the fine folks in our nation's capital are adding more and more options for baseball fans to sink

Ted Leavengood: Cardiac kids take Chicago

Three tense and tightly contested games yielded two road wins for the Nationals in Chicago, thanks to surprising late-inning magic. Call them the "Comeback Kids," the "Cardiac Kids" or whatever you will, but the Nationals scored nine times in the last two innings during the three-game set in the Windy City. The late heroics produced both wins and they almost pulled off a third Sunday

Marty Niland: Little things mean a lot in Nationals' win in opener

It wasn't just big hits and the clutch pitches that gave the Nationals a 2-1 opening day win over the Chicago Cubs. For the past six weeks, the team has focused on fundamentals - little things that translate to success or failure over the long haul. They came to fruition Thursday in Chicago, contributing to the Nats' first win and setting the stage for future

Nationals commentator Holliday honored by alma mater

We hear his voice before and after every Nationals game. He's previewing the day's matchup and only hours later recapping another night in baseball. For Nationals fans, baseball season revolves around the sight and sounds of broadcaster Johnny Holliday. Holliday, along with analyst Ray Knight, have been covering the Nationals for quite some time, a mere tip of the iceberg for Holliday, whose radio and

Dave Nichols: High goals and lofty expectations

Well, here we are, at the outset of another baseball season. Only this year, for the first opening day since the franchise arrived from Montreal in 2005, there are real expectations for this team. We're not talking about pie-in-the-sky predictions of barely major league players and castoffs surprising everyone (including their mothers) and playing out of their heads, either. We're talking about real live, honest-to-goodness

John Lannan asks to be traded

CHICAGO - Barely 24 hours after being skipped over for a spot in the Nationals' rotation and instead optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, left-hander John Lannan has asked the Nationals for a trade. In an email to members of the local media, Lannan explained his decision, saying he has met with Nats general manager Mike Rizzo twice since being informed yesterday that he would not make

Nats' opening day lineup plus notes from Chicago

CHICAGO - Hello from the Windy City, which actually isn't that windy at all today. It's a beautiful 55 degrees here and for someone who hasn't seen the city before (the one-day trip with my dad to see a game at Wrigley when I was 13 doesn't really count in my mind), the cab ride in along the water provided a nice little mini-tour. I

Here's your official 25-man opening day roster

With all the hoopla surrounding the Nationals' decision to option John Lannan to Triple-A Syracuse and slide Ross Detwiler into the starting rotation, a couple other roster decisions might have gotten overlooked. The Lannan move opened up a roster spot that allowed the Nationals to keep right-hander Craig Stammen, who would have been ticketed for Syracuse's rotation had Lannan broken camp with the major league

Still digesting the Lannan move

So much for there not being any surprise roster decisions at the end of Nationals spring training. So much for the Nats setting their rotation over a week ago, leaving only a couple bench spots and the final bullpen job up for grabs. So much for that whole "John's my guy" thing. Given the way the Nationals had acted ever since Chien-Ming Wang went down

Shocker: Lannan optioned to Syracuse in final round of cuts

In 2009 and 2010, the Nationals gave John Lannan the ball as their opening day starter. On Tuesday, flush with quality pitchers, unwilling to use Lannan out of the bullpen and confident that he had been outpitched in spring training, they optioned the left-hander and his $5 million contract to Triple-A Syracuse. Lannan's surprise demotion was the biggest of a series of transactions announced after

Nats rally in seventh to take lead, Nava homer ties game again (Nats lose 8-7)

The Nationals parlayed three singles, a pair of walks and a sacrifice fly to score three runs in the seventh inning and take a 7-6 lead over the Red Sox. Mark DeRosa led off the seventh with an infield single off Justin Thomas and was replaced by pinch runner Adrian Sanchez, who advanced to second on Xavier Nady's single to right. Wilson Ramos then drove

Report: Durbin signs with Braves

Earlier this afternoon, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he would wait to get through the exhibition game against the Red Sox before announcing which of two right-handers - Chad Durbin or Ryan Mattheus - had claimed the final spot on the team's 25-man roster. The belief was that Johnson wanted to make sure everyone got through today's game healthy before revealing who made the cut.

Ramos' homer, Desmond solo shot get Nats within 6-4

The Nationals are no longer searching for their first hit of the afternoon against Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz. Nor are they staring at a scoreboard full of goose eggs. Adam LaRoche's leadoff single in the fifth, a sharp grounder down the right field line, ended a string of 12 straight hitters retired by Buchholz to start the game. After Jayson Werth struck out, LaRoche moved

Jackson cruises through three, runs into trouble in fourth (updated)

After three spotless innings of three-up, three-down baseball, Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson has run into some trouble in the fourth. Leading off the fourth, Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury worked the count full, then laced a clean single to left, the first hit for either team in a crisply played game. Dustin Pedroia followed with a line drive to left that went for a run-scoring double and

Storen passes his latest rehab test

Prior to today, Drew Storen already had a full bullpen session under his belt as he works back from elbow inflammation. But this afternoon, working off the bullpen mound at Nationals Park, Storen cleared his next hurdle in his rehab - he threw with some conviction, trusting his arm and pounding the catcher's mitt with force. "I let it go a little bit today, probably

Today's Red Sox-Nationals lineups

The Nationals have just finished batting practice, fans are starting to stream into Nationals Park and the last exhibition game of the spring will start at 3:05 p.m. Remember, today's game is going to be televised live on MASN/MASN HD, so you can tune in and get a look at the Nats in their last game before Thursday's opener in Chicago against the Cubs. Here

For Strasburg, a memorable first major league opener in store

It's hard to believe, but Stephen Strasburg's opening day start in Chicago on Thursday will be his first opener as a major leaguer. Imagine the butterflies accompanying most players on their first opener - and then factor in the emotionally charged intensity that accompanies the right-hander on a typical start and you have to wonder whether Strasburg will be battling himself. Remember, Strasburg's first minor

Three up, three down from spring training

ORLANDO, Fla. - I'm finally leaving the state of Florida, a bit more tired and with a much heavier farmer's tan than when I arrived. While we still have one exhibition game remaining before opening day gets here, spring training is officially over. The Nationals have worked their way into playing shape, finalized all but one spot on their 25-man roster and welcomed one fantastic

Bernadina expects to be ready opening day, plus final notes

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Roger Bernadina had to leave today's game against the Red Sox less than five minutes after it started. Bernadina was hit on the outside of his right knee by an Aaron Cook pickoff throw during the top of the first inning, and after getting some attention from the training staff, the Nationals outfielder limped off the field. Expected to be the

The happiest day of the year for four Nats

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Nationals closed out their Grapefruit League season this afternoon with a 4-2 loss to the Red Sox. But in my mind at least, the game takes the backseat today. The real story, the story worth telling, is of the four guys on the roster bubble who learned today that they'll be heading north with the Nationals as part of the

Nats trail Red Sox in Florida spring training finale (Nats lose 4-2)

FORT MYERS, Fla. - If there's some good news today amid all the players going on the DL and the injury to Roger Bernadina, it's that Danny Espinosa might be starting to click. The Nationals second baseman ripped his second homer in as many days this afternoon, taking one out to center field here at JetBlue Park. After going without a homer or an RBI

Bernadina leaves game after being hit by pickoff throw (updated)

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Nationals cannot catch a break. Already without their projected starting left fielder and center fielder, both of whom will start the season on the disabled list, the Nationals will have to play the rest of today's spring training finale without Roger Bernadina, who was expected to start in center field on opening day. Bernadina has been pulled from today's game

All but one Nationals roster spot now accounted for

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Now that the Nationals have announced they will officially place four guys on the disabled list to start the season, the team's opening day roster is very close to being finalized. At this point, the position players are all set, manager Davey Johnson confirmed. The 13 position players that remain in the Nats' big league camp will make the 25-man roster.

Morse, Storen, Ankiel, Wang will start season on DL

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Nationals will be without their projected cleanup hitter/left fielder, closer, starting center fielder and fifth starter to begin the season. Manager Davey Johnson said today that Michael Morse, Drew Storen, Rick Ankiel and Chien-Ming Wang will all start the season on the disabled list. Morse (strained lat) and Ankiel (quad) will work out the with the team these next couple

Nats sign Michaels to minor league deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Nationals released Jason Michaels on Thursday. Now the veteran outfielder is back with the organization. The Nats announced today that they've agreed to terms on a minor league contract with Michaels, who will report to Triple-A Syracuse. Michaels hit .220 with one homer and seven RBIs in 41 at-bats with the Nats this spring. The 35-year-old had an opt-out clause

Starters showing signs they're set (plus today's lineup)

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Good morning from Fort Myers, where I spent the night last night ahead of today's Nationals spring training finale against the Red Sox. Unfortunately, the Nationals had to make the nearly two-hour drive back from Jupiter to Viera following yesterday's game against the Cardinals, and then leave their Space Coast Stadium complex at around 7 a.m. this morning in order to

Final quotes from the Nats clubhouse

JUPITER, Fla. - Danny Espinosa ripped a solo home run to right field in today's win over the Cardinals, giving him his first homer and first RBI this spring. But the Nationals second baseman was actually more pleased with his single to left off Cardinals closer Jason Motte in the top of the ninth inning than he was with the longball earlier in the game.

Maldonado reassigned, Gonzalez reacts to final spring start

JUPITER, Fla. - The Nationals made one roster move after today's game, reassigning catcher Carlos Maldonado to minor league camp. Maldonado, who really impressed manager Davey Johnson this spring, will back up Jhonatan Solano at Triple-A Syracuse. "I hate to lose him," Johnson said. "He's been like my favorite chair." The Nats now officially have 33 players left in major league camp. Gio Gonzalez didn't

Late-game theatrics leave Nats ready for games that matter

JUPITER, Fla. - Davey Johnson walked into the Nationals clubhouse after today's 2-1 win over the Cardinals with a giant smile on his face. "That's baseball at its best," Johnson said. "If that doesn't get your motor running, nothing will." The last inning and a half of today's ballgame was incredibly entertaining. Working in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth, Henry Rodriguez

Gonzalez finds a groove, DeRosa stays in one (Nats win 2-1)

JUPITER, Fla. - Poor Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals right-hander was just minding his business, enjoying a day in-between starts, when he saw his truck being driven onto the field and "given away" to a lucky "fan" at Roger Dean Stadium. The "fan" came sprinting down from the seats, celebrating his "prize" with a small child in his arms, as a stunned Wainwright watched from the

Today's Nats lineup plus pregame notes on Ankiel, Durbin, Storen

JUPITER, Fla. - Roger Bernadina is back with the Nationals after flying down to Curacao for his father's funeral, but he's not in manager Davey Johnson's starting lineup today against the Cardinals. Jayson Werth will start in center field today, with Mark DeRosa in left and Xavier Nady in right. Johnson said yesterday that Werth is his third option in center behind Rick Ankiel and

Injuries creating openings

VIERA, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez will make his final spring training start this afternoon against the Cardinals, a team that he's beginning to get pretty familiar with. And not in a good way. This will be the lefty's third start against St. Louis in a five-game span, with all three of those games coming in Jupiter at Roger Dean Stadium. Gonzalez isn't thrilled with the

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