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Rodriguez nails down final ‘pen spot, Ramos to catch opener

In the end, the Nationals weren’t about to take a chance on parting ways with a relief pitcher capable of hitting triple digits. Despite an up-and-down spring, right-hander Henry Rodriguez has claimed the final spot in the Nationals bullpen. Manager Davey Johnson made the announcement after Friday’s 4-2 exhibition loss to the New York Yankees at Nationals Park, surprising a team public relations official who

Harper gets his revenge on Pettitte (Nats lose 4-2)

The last time Bryce Harper faced Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte, the pitcher got the better of the Nationals rookie hitter. Harper was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Pettitte, and didn’t look very good. So much for the domination. Facing Pettitte in the first inning of today’s exhibition game at Nationals Park, Harper singled with two down, smacking the ball sharply to right field on Pettitte’s

Yankees-Nationals lineups for Nats Park exhibition

It’s gameday in D.C. The Nationals are making their final preparations for the 2013 season, hosting the New York Yankees in an exhibition game. You can catch all the action on MASN HD at 2 p.m., with play-by-play voice Bob Carpenter and analyst F.P. Santangelo calling the action. Left fielder Bryce Harper’s sore left thumb is no longer a concern - he’s in the lineup,

Ted Leavengood: What to take from a topsy-turvy spring

This spring has been a confusing one. The only cherry blossoms we have seen were the white puffs of snow clinging to the branches several days ago. Nationals spring training hasn’t blossomed the way we thought either. The expectations are so different after winning 98 games in 2012. We want to win them all, even the ones in March. Like the osprey soaring on March

Spring Training Wrap: It’s Nats baseball season

It’s been a long winter. I think the snowstorm that many of us saw on the East Coast this week really drove that statement home. After a lengthy offseason and spring training, which was extended due to the World Baseball Classic, I can finally utter the words that I have been waiting to say for months: “Baseball is back.” The Nationals will wrap up their

MASNsports.com sets Nats guest blogger rotation for first half of 2013

The way MASNsports.com is structured, conversation is encouraged. And good conversation requires strong, distinctive voices. The blogosphere covering baseball is Washington, D.C., is one of the strongest collections of baseball observers in the major leagues, chocked full of well-reasoned opinions and creative storytellers. We’re happy to once again welcome these dedicated writers to our pages for the 2013. Guest bloggers will return to MASNsports.com, offering

Nationals lineup vs. Mets (Harper scratched)

VIERA, Fla - Before I head over to Orlando International Airport for the flight back to Baltimore, I wanted to pass along the Nationals lineup for today’s 1:10 p.m. game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. Consider it my going away gift to you. MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko will be at Tradition Field this afternoon and will handle coverage duties for the remainder

Espinosa’s groundball approach paying dividends (Soriano, Rodriguez notes)

VIERA, Fla. - Want to get a good indication of just how well Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is hitting in spring training? Check out his batting practice session and see how many sharp ground balls are rocketing off his bat. A 1-for-3 day in Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Tigers upped his Grapefruit League batting average to .316, and continued to dispel any worries

Strasburg averts scare on Fielder’s shot through the box

VIERA, Fla. - As soon as the ball came off Prince Fielder’s bat in the fourth inning, Stephen Strasburg immediately knew two things: The screamer was coming right at him, and he had a shot to catch it. The ball hit him, and he didn’t snag it. And as it caromed into short center field for a single, all eyes turned to the mound as

Except for home run, Strasburg in command (Nats lose 4-3)

VIERA, Fla. - It seems odd to see the 0-2 record next to Stephen Strasburg’s name on the stats sheet. The 4.66 ERA he toted into today’s game against the Tigers looks a little strange, too. But then again, this is spring training and the stats here don’t count. What’s that old baseball adage about not making player personnel judgments based on statistics from March

Kimball, Accardo cut from Nats camp (plus Young note)

VIERA, Fla. - First pitch in the Tigers-Nationals game is 20 minutes way, but the Nats have made two more cuts. Right-hander Cole Kimball has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, while right-hander Jeremy Accardo has been reassigned to minor league camp. Kimball, in his first camp since right shoulder surgery performed in July 2011, pitched to a 2.84 ERA in seven relief appearances this spring.

Soriano hurting, pushed back to Saturday (plus Rivero, Duke, Kimball notes)

VIERA, Fla. - Closer Rafael Soriano, less than a day removed from a root canal to treat an infected wisdom tooth, will not pitch as scheduled today against the Tigers. “He’s recovering from a long day in the dentist’s chair. ... He’ll be pitching tomorrow,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Talking to him earlier today, he’s not feeling ready to go.” Johnson said the delay won’t

Tigers-Nationals lineups for Friday’s game on MASN

VIERA, Fla. - Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Tigers are playing the Nationals today. Yes, for the third time in six days, and the second time in five days at Space Coast Stadium. Today’s contest will be broadcast on MASN HD beginning at 1 p.m. Play-by-play voice Bob Carpenter and analyst F.P. Santangelo will have the call. Here are today’s lineups:

Nationals ink J.C. Romero to minor league deal with invite to big league camp

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals’ search for left-handed relief help has taken them in a familiar direction. This morning, the club signed veteran J.C. Romero to a minor league deal with an invitation to the final days of big league spring training. The Nationals scouted Romero during his recent stint with the Puerto Rican entry in the World Baseball Classic, where he worked to a

Weekly Wrap: Nats trimming down roster

We’re nine spring training games and just 10 days away from the Nats’ season opener. As opening day is drawing closer, the Nationals have continued to trim their roster. On Monday, the Nats made a handful of cuts. Pitchers Erik Davis, Yunesky Maya and Ryan Perry, catcher Jhonatan Solano, infielder Chris Marrero and outfielder Corey Brown were sent to Triple-A Syracuse. Pitcher Ross Ohlendorf and

Johnson on plate collision debate: “We don’t need any more rules”

VIERA, Fla. - This has been the most vanilla of spring camps for the Nationals. No positional battles. No roster intrigue. Nothing but minor injuries (knock on wood). And barely any kind of controversy at all. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Just making an observation. That makes the daily media session with manager Davey Johnson a little different. The chats are generally brief -

LaRoche on knuckler-induced laughs, Ramos on nine-inning stint

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The pitch fluttered toward the plate, and Adam LaRoche had trouble suppressing a laugh. The ball thrown by Tim Hudson, one of LaRoche’s former teammates with the Braves and a good friend, dipped and dropped, a cross between a blooper pitch and a knuckleball. What most fans didn’t see were the silent hand signals between LaRoche and Hudson before the

Change in grip on splitter has Haren more hopeful

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - After getting knocked around in his last two starts, all right-hander Dan Haren wanted was some progress, some incremental achievement to show he could still be effective. Tonight at Champion Stadium against the Braves, he weathered a one-inning blip, set down 10 straight hitters and wasn’t happy with his his outing ended. After getting an assortment of bad swings and

Haren, Nationals down 3-0 early (Nats lose 4-3)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Dan Haren doesn’t look very comfortable on the mound and the Nationals are down 3-0 after two innings at Champion Stadium. Haren ended the first inning by striking out Justin Upton and having catcher Wilson Ramos throw Andrelton Simmons out attempting to steal third. But it was all downhill in the second inning for Haren. Juan Francisco’s single and a

Nats unveil plans for opening day ceremonies

Opening day may not be until April 1, but the Nationals have begun filling in the blanks about who will participate in what ceremonies to mark the 2013 season’s first game at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins. First, there’s free stuff in your future - assuming you’re one of the first 20,000 fans through the gates for the 1:05 p.m. contest. That’s how many

Soriano gets to root of tooth pain, Bernadina returns and says he’s “close”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Rafael Soriano’s wisdom tooth issues will hopefully be a thing of the past very soon. The Nationals closer was scheduled to undergo a root canal this afternoon near the team’s Viera spring headquarters and manager Davey Johnson said he thinks the right-hander might be able to pitch as scheduled Friday against the Tigers at Space Coast Stadium. “I think he

Another road start for Haren (plus Nats-Braves lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - Dan Haren gets another crack at finding his velocity and command tonight when the Nationals venture to Champion Field for a 6:05 p.m. game against the Atlanta Braves. So far this spring, Haren hasn’t looked very good, posting a 5.79 ERA in four starts. A look inside the stats makes Haren’s spring starts look even more confounding. In 14 innings pitched, he’s

Johnson willing to give Rodriguez chances to overcome command issues

JUPITER, Fla. - Henry Rodriguez will be given every opportunity to work through his command issues, manager Davey Johnson said yesterday after another rough outing from the hard-throwing right-hander. “He’s a power arm and he hasn’t pitched a lot. ... He didn’t pitch winter ball,” Johnson said when asked about Rodriguez’s struggles. “Once he’s healthy, I need to go to him more, try to wear

Nats acquire pitcher Ian Krol to complete Morse deal

JUPITER, Fla. - The player to be named is no longer nameless. The Nationals today acquired left-handed pitcher Ian Krol from the Oakland A’s, completing the Jan. 16 deal for outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse. Morse was shipped to the A’s in exchange for Krol and right-handers A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen. Oakland then flipped Morse to Seattle for catcher John Jaso. The 21-year-old Krol was

With opt-out looming, Young’s strong effort will force decisions

JUPITER, Fla. - Chris Young’s outing Wednesday against the Miami Marlins - five scoreless innings of two-hit ball with nine straight batters retired at one point - may have created quite the win-win dilemma for the veteran right-hander. Young’s most effective of three starts this spring lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 3.00 and set the stage for some serious decision-making. Because he has a

Werth, Harper making trek to Jupiter worthwhile (Nats win 7-5)

JUPITER, Fla. - Given his druthers, Jayson Werth would probably prefer to have remained back at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, done his work early and called it a day. Instead, he’s here at Roger Dean Stadium, plugging along with the rest of what’s expected to be the Nationals’ regular season lineup. For a guy who didn’t relish the 90-minute or so bus trek down

Case closed: Johnson doesn’t think ‘pen needs second lefty

JUPITER, Fla. - With less than two weeks left in camp, Davey Johnson is still fielding questions about whether he needs a second left-hander in his bullpen. And the Nationals manager continues to insist that he’s confident that his hard-throwing right-handers can be effective against even the most dangerous left-handed sticks. One word summed up Johnson’s feelings: “Stuff.” The Nationals continue to look at left-hander

Nationals-Marlins lineups (plus Bernadina, Soriano notes)

JUPITER, Fla. - The Nationals get another look at right-hander Chris Young today against the Miami Marlins, and it could be their last. Signed to a minor league deal Feb. 22 as part of general manager Mike Rizzo’s offseason attempt to bolster the Nats’ starting pitching depth, Young has an opt-out clause in his contract. He can leave the club March 24 if he doesn’t

For first base coach Tarasco, focus on preparation leads to new opportunity

VIERA, Fla. - Perhaps no role on a coaching staff is more misunderstood than that of the first base coach. New Nationals first base coach Tony Tarasco knows this. He realizes fans see him point a runner toward second base on a sure-fire double down the line, or grab the batting gloves from a player who has just drawn a walk, and think he has

Johnson cracking the whip and Werth is ready (updated)

VIERA, Fla. - The whip is coming, and Jayson Werth is ready. For several days, Nationals manager Davey Johnson has been pulling his regulars aside and telling them that the somewhat leisurely pace that goes along with a seven-week spring training elongated by the World Baseball Classic is about to change drastically. No more veterans begging off from long bus trips, citing the years they’ve

Johnson on Soriano’s outing, Storen’s rebound (plus Gonzalez note)

VIERA, Fla. - It’ll take a lot more than one subpar outing for Nationals manager Davey Johnson to lose faith in new closer Rafael Soriano. Soriano had a hiccup Monday afternoon, coughing up a 1-0 lead in an outing that Johnson said was nowhere near as bad as it looked. “I thought that was the best he’s thrown all spring,” Johnson said after Soriano yielded

Changing things up, Zimmermann adds to his repertoire

VIERA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann isn’t usually prone to wordy dissections of his pitching lines, so when the Nationals right-hander spends more than four minutes responding to questions about his performance, you know he’s probably done something of note. In this case, it was the kind of spring start that rarely happens: After surrendering a leadoff single to Andy Dirks on Monday, Zimmermann was as

Zimmermann’s got that sinking feeling (Nats lose 5-1)

VIERA, Fla. - When Jordan Zimmermann is on, you can often tell by the number of ground balls he gets. Swings and misses are nice - everybody gets so enamored of strikeouts - but a biting sinker usually translates into many chances for Nationals infielders. Suffice it to say Zimmermann’s got some sink to his stuff today. Through three innings against the Tigers, Zimmermann is

Tigers-Nats lineups (plus Garcia, Gonzalez notes)

VIERA, Fla. - Another day, another appearance by a Nationals lineup filled with regulars for today’s 1:05 p.m. game against the Detroit Tigers at Space Coast Stadium. The Tigers didn’t skimp on star power either, bringing their marquee names for the 90-minute drive from Lakeland. For the Tigers: LF - Andy Dirks RF - Torii Hunter 3B - Miguel Cabrera 1B - Prince Fielder DH

Nats cut eight, Snyder released, spring roster pared to 33 (updated)

VIERA, Fla. - Faced with too many pitchers and dwindling innings, and preparing to start playing his regulars deeper into games, Davey Johnson announced another round of eight cuts at Nationals camp before Monday’s Grapefruit League game against the Detroit Tigers. Right-handers Ryan Perry and Erik Davis, first baseman Chris Marrero, catcher Jhonatan Solano and outfielder Corey Brown were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, and right-hander

Jhonatan Solano’s most excellent outfield adventure

LAKELAND, Fla. - The catcher who played the final two innings in left field Sunday afternoon didn’t look as out of place as you might expect. He ran fairly well, showed off a decent arm and made sure he didn’t drop any of the three fly balls that were hit to him in his unexpected stint. Not that Jhonatan Solano had any experience playing left

For Moore, a different feel this spring

LAKELAND, Fla. - Gone are the days when Tyler Moore just hoped to make an impression on the Nationals. The soft-spoken first baseman/outfielder has accomplished that goal, though he’s going to have to adjust to a much different role in the coming two weeks. With the Washington outfield set in stone and Adam LaRoche’s big bat and slick glove manning first base, Moore is without

Detwiler on Detwiler, Johnson on Perry

LAKELAND, Fla. - Because the Nationals’ 12-10 slugfest took 3 hours, 27 minutes to complete, and because effective pitching is at a premium in a game where so many runs are scored, it’s easy to forget that left-hander Ross Detwiler started - and prospered. His 57-pitch effort - his first appearance since returning from Team USA and the World Baseball Classic, and following a seven-day

Once through the order, Detwiler holding his own (Nats win 12-10)

LAKELAND, Fla. - One time through the Tigers’ lineup and it’s been a mixed bag for Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler, who’s holding his own in his third spring start. Two batters into the order, Detwiler was down 1-0 after yielding a mammoth home run to Torii Hunter, who cleared the berm in left field on a 1-1 fastball, sending patrons at the Hooters tiki bar

Johnson on Detwiler, Espinosa, Rivero, Kobernus and more

LAKELAND, Fla. - Talk about your basic frying pan-fire conundrum. Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler might not be facing the best international hitters in the World Baseball Classic now that Team USA has been eliminated. Instead, he gets one of the toughest lineups in the majors today, when the Detroit Tigers trot out what could be their opening day order. “They’ve got some of the best

Today’s Nationals-Tigers lineups

LAKELAND, Fla. - There’s a different look to the Nationals’ lineup for today’s 1:05 p.m. St. Patrick’s Day game against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Second baseman Danny Espinosa is leading off, Tyler Moore is playing right field and batting cleanup and the Nats have four first baseman in the lineup - Moore, DH Chad Tracy, first baseman Chris Marrero and left fielder

Johnson’s prescription for struggling Storen: more work

VIERA, Fla. - Judging solely by the numbers, last night was another forgettable outing for right-hander Drew Storen. Storen pitched one inning in a 4-2 loss to the Astros, blowing a save opportunity, absorbing the loss and watching his spring ERA balloon to 6.43 after seven outings. Rough springs are nothing new for Storen. Last year, he was limited to two appearances before surgery to

Stretch work clicks for Strasburg on 93-pitch night

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg is itching to get the season started. His internal clock, if not his pitch count Saturday night against the Astros, tells him the season should be starting soon, not be more than two weeks away. So what did he take out of tonight’s effort, in which he went deeper into a game than any other Nationals starting pitcher this spring,

One chance, some jitters and a step forward for Zimmerman

VIERA, Fla. - Ryan Zimmerman’s surgically repaired right shoulder felt so good in recent days that he talked Nationals manager Davey Johnson into pushing up his spring debut at third base by a couple of days. Instead of playing defense for the first time in Grapefruit League play Monday against the Tigers, Zimmerman did so Saturday night versus the Astros. He needed to make only

Not much action for Zimmerman (Nats lose 4-2)

VIERA, Fla. - Ryan Zimmerman’s spring debut at third base lasted four innings. He’s out of the game, replaced by Chad Tracy at the hot corner for the top of the fifth. Zimmerman handled his only chance with no problems, but it’s not like Carlos Corporan’s slow roller leading off the second was particularly challenging. Zimmerman charged the bouncer, scooped it and threw across his

Strasburg strong, fans six through three innings (Astros take 1-0 lead)

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg is humming along in his fifth start of the spring. He’s fanned six in three innings and has thrown 52 pitches (40 strikes) through three frames. He’s expected to throw about 75 pitches tonight against the Astros. Houston got two quick singles off the Nationals’ opening day starter in the first inning - a leadoff line drive by Trevor Crowe

Detwiler returns, will start Sunday in Lakeland (plus pitching notes)

VIERA, Fla. - The only thing disappointing about Ross Detwiler’s experience in the World Baseball Classic was the way it ended. Less than 24 hours after Team USA was eliminated by Puerto Rico, the left-hander returned to the Nationals. Detwiler, who didn’t pitch in the Americans’ losses to the Domincan Republic and Puerto Rico, will jump right into the fray and start Sunday against the

Zimmerman making first start at third base

VIERA, Fla. - At the risk of sounding like one of those kitschy postcards, greetings from Space Coast Stadium. While Dan Kolko takes some well-deserved time off over the next week, I’ll be carrying you through all the important Nationals news. Check back on MASNsports.com frequently and give me a follow at @masnPete on Twitter. First things first: The lineup for tonight’s 6:05 p.m. game

Weekly Wrap: Starters making noise in spring training and WBC

While the Nationals continue holding camp in Viera, Fla., a few players made themselves known on the big stage, participating in the World Baseball Classic. Pitchers Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez pitched four and five scoreless innings, respectively, for Team USA, both of which led to victories. On Wednesday, fellow hurler Stephen Strasburg was officially named the Nats’ opening day starter. While Strasburg is a

Weekly Wrap: Interesting first meeting between Nats, Phillies

While the Nationals won three of their last five games, one of the most interesting parts of last week came in a loss. The loss came to the Phillies by a final score of 6-3 on Wednesday. After Stephen Strasburg plunked Chase Utley’s ankle, Roy Halladay threw behind Tyler Moore. As Wednesday’s game was the sole spring training meeting between the two teams, only the

Weekly Wrap: NL East rivals test Nats

Starting off spring training games this week, the Nats got their first taste of the National League East with games versus the Marlins, Mets and Braves that ended in a win, three losses and two ties. On Sunday, the Nats announced that Christian Garcia would miss the next 10-14 days with a wrist/forearm strain. While the decision to rest the righty is conservative, the Nats

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