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Hearing from Fister, LaRoche and Rendon after Nats’ rout of Rangers

The seeds for Saturday’s 10-2 shellacking of the Texas Rangers were sewn on Friday afternoon, when Nationals right-hander Doug Fister made a guest appearance as the position players gathered to pore over an American League opponent they rarely face. Fister was there to discuss the approach he’d employ with each Rangers hitter in hopes that understanding his pitch sequences and tendencies would help his fielders

Williams on Fister’s strong outing and another offensive explosion in 10-2 win

We’ve gone from a seven-game stretch where the Nationals scored just 19 total runs and left 64 runners on base to a two-game stretch where the Nats have put up 19 runs and seemingly everyone that reached base came around to score. Baseball is a funky game sometimes, isn’t it? The Nats have moved past their offensive slide that lasted for a good portion of

Rendon stakes Fister to 1-0 lead in first (Nats win 10-2)

Well, that didn’t take long. But it could have been more. Anthony Rendon lined a 2-2 pitch from Nick Tepesch over the fence in left, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead over the Rangers in the first inning. While the Nats will gladly take offense in any shape or form, it’s frustrating that the blast could have given them a 2-0 edge. Denard Span drew

Zimmerman heading to left field for P-Nats

All the talk about Ryan Zimmerman playing left field is about to move from conjecture to reality. Nationals manager Matt Williams said this morning that Zimmerman’s minor league rehabilitation assignment with high Single-A Potomac will continue this evening with the veteran scheduled to play in left field for five innings. The P-Nats host Salem at Pfitzner Stadium at 6:35 p.m. “The plan is he’ll play

Nats lineup for Game 2 vs. Rangers

The Nationals are using a similar lineup as last night, but with one exception. Jose Lobaton will get the start at catcher this afternoon in place of Wilson Ramos. Doug Fister seeks his third straight win. For the Rangers LF Shin-Soo Choo SS Elvin Andrus 1B Mitch Moreland 3B Adrian Beltre RF Alex Rios C Robinson Chirinos CF Leonys Martin 2B Rougned Odor RHP Nick

Williams on Desmond’s homer, Strasburg’s outing, Espinosa’s progress in 9-2 win

After a seven-day stretch where not much went right for the Nationals, a lot went their way tonight. The Nats pounded out 15 hits and scored nine runs. Stephen Strasburg put an early fielding error and two unearned runs behind him and delivered six strong innings. Drew Storen and Blake Treinen combined to throw three scoreless frames. Tyler Moore had his first pinch-hit of the

Zimmerman starting rehab assignment with Potomac tonight (updated)

Looks like Ryan Zimmerman might be back with the Nationals within a matter of days. Zimmerman will start a rehab assignment with high Single-A Potomac tonight, the Nationals announced. Zimmerman will DH for the P-Nats and bat third. This comes two days after Zimmerman was put through a fairly strenuous workout at Nats Park in which he took live batting practice for the first time

After slow start, McLouth starting to settle in

Browse the Nationals’ individual offensive numbers this season, and it’ll take you a bit to get to Nate McLouth’s name. In pretty much any major category, go past Jayson Werth and Denard Span and Anthony Rendon. Keep skimming down the page past Wilson Ramos and the struggling Danny Espinosa. Eventually, you’ll find McLouth, who sports a lowly .182 batting average and a .582 OPS on

Postponed game vs. Marlins to be played as part of doubleheader Sept. 26

The Nationals announced today that Tuesday’s postponed game against the Marlins has been rescheduled for Sept. 26. The game will be played at 1:05 p.m. as part of a split doubleheader. Fans with tickets to the originally scheduled game against Miami on May 27 may use their original tickets on Sept. 26 for the 1:05 p.m. game, or they can exchange them for any 2014

On the rash of Tommy John surgeries, struggles for Zimmermann and offense

Let’s quickly bounce through a few topics on the morning of the Nationals’ much-needed off-day. First, if you didn’t happen to see my report on last night’s “Nats Xtra” pregame show about left-handed prospect Matt Purke needing Tommy John and the rash of elbow injuries that we’ve seen in the game recently, check it out. The number of Tommy John surgeries that have already been

Williams discusses the extra-inning loss to Miami

The positive is that the Nationals battled back from a four-run deficit and squared tonight’s game with the Marlins, giving themselves a chance to earn a big comeback win. The negative is that once the game was tied, the Nats squandered a couple of golden opportunities, left 15 men on base in all, and leave Nationals Park with a tough 8-4 loss in 10 innings.

Zimmermann takes the mound, Frandsen starts at second for Nats

Manager Matt Williams will use the same lineup against the Marlins he intended to use for Tuesday’s game before the rainout. The only difference is Jordan Zimmermann will take the mound for the Nationals, while Blake Treinen has been moved to the bullpen after having his spot skipped. Kevin Frandsen will get the start at second while Danny Espinosa will be on the bench. For

A postponement isn’t a terrible thing

Once a game begins, if there’s a rain delay, the umpires have control over the decision-making when it comes to how long the delay will last and if the game will be postponed. Prior to first pitch, however, that decision rests with the home team. Last night, the Nationals could have decided to try and wait out a heavy rain, sitting through a lengthy delay

Zimmerman to take live BP Wednesday (updated)

Ryan Zimmerman is continuing toward his return to the Nationals lineup after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb fracture on April 13. While there’s no clear timeframe yet, the third baseman has felt good and passed the hurdles so far in his progression, according to manager Matt Williams. “Tomorrow, we’ve set up some early batting practice for him on the

Frandsen at second base, Espinosa sits (with Marlins lineup)

For the second time in three days, Matt Williams’ lineup has Kevin Frandsen playing second base, with Danny Espinosa on the bench. Frandsen gets the start today as the Nationals take on Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez. The switch-hitting Espinosa would typically be a better option against a righty starter, but Espinosa is now 0-for-his-last-13 with eight strikeouts and is hitting .123 with 34 strikeouts in

Waiting on the bats to heat up

You can choose to look at the Nationals’ recent slump in one of two ways. No. 1: Of the Nats’ last six losses, five have been by a single run, indicating that they’re very much in these ballgames. No. 2: That the Nats have now dropped five of their last six contests, and it’s largely because their offense has struggled mightily of late. I have

Williams on another one-run loss and Zimmerman’s rehab progress

The Nationals have lost five of their last six. Four of those losses have been by one run. It’s not like they’re getting blown out. They’re just not getting the job done in tight ballgames as of late. This afternoon, it was a 3-2 loss to the Marlins that bumped the Nats back below .500 at 25-26. Adam LaRoche crushed a two-run homer into the

Marlins-Nats lineups for series opener vs. Marlins

The Nationals hope to build off yesterday’s win in Pittsburgh now that they’re back home, and they’ll send Tanner Roark to the mound in this afternoon’s Memorial Day contest. The Nats welcome the Marlins to town, who are handing the ball to righty Nathan Eovaldi. For the MarlinsLF Christian Yelich2B Derek Dietrich RF Giancarlo Stanton 3B Casey McGehee 1B Garrett Jones C Jarrod Saltalamacchia CF

Rendon hopes run of walks are a positive step forward

Anthony Rendon has drawn 17 walks this season, and eight of them have come in his past seven games. Though his batting average has dipped from .311 on May 1 to .258 after Sunday’s 5-2 victory over the Pirates, the more frequent free passes are an encouraging sign for a hitter who was viewed as a walk machine in college and the minors. “I don’t

Fister reluctantly plays role of stopper for Nats

The Nationals wanted to end a season-high four-game losing streak, and needed a good game from right-hander Doug Fister in order to accomplish that goal. But that doesn’t make Fister the team’s stopper. He said as much after working 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball as the Nats salvaged the final game of a four-game series in Pittsburgh with a 5-2 win over the Pirates

Nats grab quick 2-0 lead over Pirates (Nats win 5-2)

Doug Fister will take the mound today with a 2-0 lead, after the Nationals picked up a couple of runs early against Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano. Not all of the offense was, well, a result of the Nats’ bats, but for a team struggling to score runs, who’s going to complain? Denard Span started things off with a leadoff double and Anthony Rendon worked a

LaRoche returns from DL, Walters optioned (plus lineups)

Adam LaRoche is back from the left quad injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list, and he’ll go right into the Nationals lineup in his customary spots at first base and fourth in the batting order. For a team that’s dropped a season-high four straight games, an infusion of offense is a welcome development. To make room for LaRoche on the 25-man roster,

Pirates have no answer for Strasburg early (Pirates rally for 3-2 win)

The first inning has been a bugaboo for Stephen Strasburg this season, but he got through the first against the Pirates in 1-2-3 fashion, then followed up with a six-pitch second inning, getting an inning-ending 6-3 double play off the bat of Pedro Alvarez after hitting Russell Martin with a pitch. In his first 10 starts of the season, opposing batters battered Strasburg for a

Nats turn to Strasburg to avoid falling below .500 (with lineups)

There’s something about the prospect of Stephen Strasburg facing the Pittsburgh Pirates that gets Nationals fans downright giddy. Who could forget the hard-throwing right-hander’s uber-hyped major league debut on June 8, 2010, when Strasburg fanned 14 Pirates in front of a sellout “Strasmas” crowd at Nationals Park. Yep, that 14-strikeout performance in his first big league game still stands as Straburg’s career high in strikeouts.

A .500 record 48 games in

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals are .500 for the first time all season. It’s weird to type. I bet it’s weird to read. Fourty-eight games in, the Nats are 24-24, having lost three in a row and four of five. They’re currently 3 1/2 games back of the Braves in the National League East and in third in the division, although I really hate looking at

Span on the offensive struggles, Zimmermann on his outing

PITTSBURGH - There’s no doubt the Nationals have hit a rough stretch from an offensive perspective. Denard Span has actually gotten hot of late, and he added two hits (including a double) today, but he addressed his team’s overall struggles with runners in scoring position lately. “We could do better,” Span said. “We definitely could do better with guys in scoring position. You look up

Williams meets with the media after Nats’ 4-3 loss

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals have now dropped three in a row and four of their last five. It’s not for a lack of scoring opportunities, that’s for sure. The Nats had eight hits and drew six walks tonight. They had chances. They just couldn’t come through enough times and dropped a 4-3 ballgame to the Pirates. The makings of another late-game comeback were there, as

Pirates grab early 2-0 lead in second (Nats lose 4-3)

So much for the notion that facing a pitcher who hadn’t won in 14 starts would somehow be the cure for the Nationals’ offensive woes. Charlie Morton, who came into the game 0-7 in his last 14 starts, has a 2-0 lead after two innings. The Pirates got to Nats righty Jordan Zimmermann in the second, when Ike Davis singled and Russell Martin doubled to

Gonzalez’s throw day pushed back, LaRoche inches closer to activation

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez’s progression toward a throwing program hit a small bump in the road Friday, when left shoulder stiffness scrapped his plans to throw. Nationals manager Matt Williams didn’t seem too concerned with the setback, telling reporters who expressed concern before his team’s game at PNC Park against the Pirates, “It’s only a day.” “He’s a little stiff still, so he’ll continue his rehab

Espinosa and Moore sit, Walters and Dobbs start

PITTSBURGH - Matt Williams is shaking up his lineup a bit a day after the Nationals put up just one run in a 3-1 loss to the Pirates. Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore are out of the starting lineup tonight, with Zach Walters getting the start at third base and Greg Dobbs in there at first. Jordan Zimmermann will toe the rubber for the Nats,

More on Treinen and Nats’ lack of run production

PITTSBURGH - Five appearances into Blake Treinen’s big league career, it’s clear that he has the raw ability to compete at this level. Treinen’s hard two-seamer touched 98 mph last night against the Pirates and was clocked at 100 mph at times in the minors. He has a changeup and slider that at times can be strong pitches for him. He has a quiet confidence

Treinen: “My stuff plays, I just have to execute pitches”

PITTSBURGH - Both times that Blake Treinen has gotten a big league start thus far in his young career, he’s pitched pretty darn well, but just hasn’t been able to earn the win. Against the Dodgers back on May 6, it was a rough fifth inning that featured a couple of errors, one by Treinen himself, that led to a loss. Tonight, it was a

Williams on Treinen’s outing, Pirates’ defense in Nationals’ 3-1 loss

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals got a strong outing from Blake Treinen in his second major league start, and they got a good bit of solid contact off Pirates pitching. Unfortunately for them, they also got a 3-1 loss in the first game of this four-game set at PNC Park. Treinen allowed two runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings, with five walks and four

Treinen solid early, Desmond homers to tie game (Nats lose 3-1)

Rookie Blake Treinen has been solid thus far in his second major league start, but he did come a little undone in the third inning. Treinen matched Pirates starter Edinson Volquez at the outset, retiring the first eight batters of the game. But he then ran into trouble. Treinen walked Volquez with two outs in the third. Josh Harrison then singled for the Pirates’ first

Notes on Treinen, Jordan, LaRoche’s rehab and more

With Gio Gonzalez on the disabled list, rookie right-hander Blake Treinen gets a chance to show his strong showings over two prior stints with the Nationals this season were no fluke. Treinen, 25, has pitched to a 0.77 ERA over 11 2/3 innings spanning four appearances (one start). In his first major league start on May 6, Treinen allowed no earned runs (three total) on

Williams sticking with his regulars in series opener at PNC Park

PITTSBURGH - Matt Williams had said he planned on giving Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond a day off during this four-game series against the Pirates. Neither of those two players will be sitting in the series opener, however. Werth is starting in right field, hitting third, while Desmond is at short, batting fifth. Blake Treinen makes his second big league start after officially being recalled

Checking in from the Steel City

PITTSBURGH - Hello from the Steel City, where the Nationals will spend their next four days before heading right back to D.C. again for a lengthy homestand. Pittsburgh doesn’t necessarily have a great reputation as a travel city, but I kind of like it here. The downtown area by the bridges is gorgeous when the weather is nice (it makes for a solid area to

Rendon gets day off for series finale (with Reds lineup)

The Nationals are going for the series win against the Reds this afternoon in D.C., but Anthony Rendon will be on the bench for the finale, getting a day off. With Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list, Rendon has become the Nats’ everyday third baseman. Kevin Frandsen will get the start at third today. Right-hander Tanner Roark will take the mound this afternoon, looking to

The importance of getting Span on track (updated)

What can a five-hit game do for a guy’s numbers less than two months into the season? Well, for Denard Span, it can boost his batting average and on-base percentage in a big way and get him back closer to the type of numbers he would expect to have to this point in the season. Span entered yesterday’s game batting .239 with a .287 on-base

Williams on Span’s stellar performance, Fister’s strong start in 9-4 win

Doug Fister didn’t need much run support tonight. Denard Span helped make sure he had plenty anyway. Span went 5-for-5 tonight with two doubles, two runs scored, two RBIs and a stolen base, leading the offensive charge against Reds starter Johnny Cueto, who came in leading the majors in ERA among starters. Manager Matt Williams had been asked before the game whether he had given

Frandsen in left, Moore at first against Cueto

Kevin Frandsen will play left field and Tyler Moore will be at first base for the Nationals in tonight’s game against the Reds. Right-hander Doug Fister makes his Nationals Park debut tonight and gets a stern test in going up against Reds righty Johnny Cueto, who owns a 4-2 record and a 1.25 ERA. For the RedsCF Billy HamiltonRF Skip Schumaker2B Brandon Phillips1B Todd FrazierC

On last night and today

A 15-inning, nearly five-hour game that results in a loss might seem like it would sting more than your standard, nine-inning, three-hour defeat. You scratch and you claw for that long, use up so many relievers and expend that much energy, and don’t come away with a victory, and it’s bound to leave you that much more frustrated, right? Think again, according to the Nationals,

Williams discusses Nats’ 15-inning loss

Fifteen innings. Four hours, 58 minutes. It took that long for the Nationals and Reds to decide the opener of a three-game series, and unfortunately for those who stuck around Nats Park or those who stayed up with us on MASN to watch this one, the road team ended up going home the victor. Todd Frazier’s two-run homer in the top of the 15th off

Dobbs gets first Nationals start

After getting 14 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter this season between the Marlins and Nationals, Greg Dobbs is in a starting lineup for the first time in 2014. The veteran utilityman will play first base for manager Matt Williams tonight. Dobbs has gone 2-for-14 this season, but singled up the middle on Friday in his first at-bat with the Nats. The Reds will send right-hander

Improved changeup a key to Storen’s success

In my on-field interview with Wilson Ramos after yesterday’s Nationals win, I asked the Nationals catcher what’s been the key to Drew Storen getting off to such a strong start to the 2014 season. Storen has a 1.26 ERA through 17 outings this year, and he’s allowed just eight baserunners in his 14 1/3 innings, with 15 strikeouts. Ramos noted that Storen’s changeup has been

Williams updates Gonzalez’s injury and recaps Nats’ 6-3 win

The Nationals won a ballgame today and then got some good news on starter Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez does not have any structural damage to his injured left shoulder, according to manager Matt Williams. An MRI taken today revealed that Gonzalez merely has inflammation in the shoulder, which will lead to Gonzalez needing some time to rest. The left-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list

Desmond’s homer pulls Nats into 1-1 tie (Nats win 6-3)

Ian Desmond led off the bottom of the second inning with a homer to left, pulling the Nationals into a 1-1 tie with the Mets. Those early-season plate woes may finally be turning for the Nats shortstop. In his last seven games, Desmond is 8-for-23 (.348) with a triple, three homers and eight RBIs. That kind of punch comes in handy when you’re missing the

Gonzalez headed to DL for first time in his career (updated after MRI)

Remember last night, when Matt Williams said there was nothing physically wrong with left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who sounded as if he was contradicting his manager by saying he just had to pitch through an unspecified issue? Well, chalk one up for Gonzalez, who this morning was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career. The problem: left shoulder inflammation. Since

Frandsen at second for series finale

Kevin Frandsen will play second base for the Nationals today in their series finale against the Mets, as Danny Espinosa gets the day off (well, at least the start of the day). Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann takes the mound for the Nats, and will be opposed by Zack Wheeler. Right-hander Ryan Mattheus is on the lineup card, which doesn’t seem to bode well for left-hander Gio

Leftovers from last night

The Nationals have allowed three runs or more in 10 of their 42 games this season. Yes, 10 of their 42. I’m sure that’s both shocking and frustrating to manager Matt Williams and company. What can be done to fix it? Well, the Nats say that they’ve gone back and looked at how their starters are warming up compared to previous years. They’ve studied the

Williams on Gonzalez’s rough start, bullpen’s stellar work in 5-2 loss

Over his last two outings, spanning just 7 1/3 innings, Gio Gonzalez has allowed 12 runs on 16 hits. Not what we’re used to seeing from the Nationals left-hander. Gonzalez gave up five runs over three innings today against the Mets, taking his second straight loss and watching his ERA balloon to 4.62 in the Nats’ 5-2 defeat. He allowed three runs in the first

Another forgettable first for Gonzalez (Nats lose 5-2)

The first inning proved to be a problem for Gio Gonzalez for the second straight start. Gonzalez allowed three runs on four hits and two walks while needing 37 pitches, 21 for strikes, to get through the first frame today against the Mets. So down 3-0, the Nationals will need to come from behind yet again if they’ll make it two wins in a row

Williams: Struggling Espinosa working on “zoning it back in”

After emerging as one of the early positives for the Nationals this season, Danny Espinosa just hasn’t been the same hitter. Since Espinosa’s average reached a season-high .346 on April 14, he is batting .188 in his last 28 games. But he does have all six of his homers and all but one of his 10 RBIs during that slump. The second baseman has struggled

LaRoche optimistic he’ll be able to return from DL when eligible

When Adam LaRoche went to stretch his strained right quad on Friday, the soreness that had been such a hindrance was gone. And that progress has the Nationals first baseman hoping that when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list on May 25, he’ll be able to do so. “They were optimistic early on with the 15 days, saying, ‘Hey, it could very well

Gonzalez looks to get back on track vs. Mets

Gio Gonzalez looks to get back on track this afternoon against the New York Mets. In his last start on Sunday against the Athletics, Gonzalez lasted just 4 1/3 innings, gave up nine hits, seven earned runs and walked three. Gonzalez earned his first win this year against the Mets on April 2 in the Nationals’ second game of the season. For the Nationals: CF

Nats continue to crush lefties

Mets starter Jon Niese went into yesterday’s outing with a 1.67 ERA in 32 1/3 career innings at Nationals Park, with 33 strikeouts and two walks. Those numbers might’ve inspired some confidence in the 27-year-old starter. Niese got rocked for five runs on eight hits in just four innings, however, thus continuing a recent trend of Nationals hitters demolishing left-handed pitching. After last night’s win,

Williams on Werth’s dramatic catch, Soriano’s ninth inning, Nats’ 5-2 win

What was looking like a quiet 5-2 victory suddenly turned a bit more interesting in the bottom of the ninth, when Rafael Soriano issued two two-out walks and Daniel Murphy sent a fly ball high to right field. Jayson Werth leaped at the wall, made a catch that may or may not have saved the game from being tied, and then dropped a “Mean Girls”

Nats give Roark an early 3-0 lead (Nats win 5-2)

It didn’t take long for the Nationals to break through against Mets lefty Jonathon Neise. An RBI single by Jayson Werth, a Wilson Ramos sac fly and a run-scoring ground ball off the bat of Tyler Moore have staked right-hander Tanner Roark to a 3-0 lead after one inning. Right from the start, Neise struggled. He allowed a leadoff single to Denard Span, watched as

Zimmerman, Harper headed for visits with doctors (plus Ohlendorf, Jordan updates)

Two injured Nationals are due for doctor’s visits next week to have their progress assessed. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right thumb, is due for an X-ray on Monday, roughly the five-week mark since sustaining the injury. “Once the doctor clears him, he can start all of his strengthening exercises,” manager Matt Williams said Friday afternoon. Zimmerman can

Dobbs fills Nats’ need for veteran left-handed bat off bench

The Nationals needed a veteran left-handed hitter off the bench, and Greg Dobbs was out of work and looking for a job. Four days after signing a minor league deal with the Nats, and after a few days of working to regain his timing in extended spring training at Viera, Fla., Dobbs is back in the majors. The Nationals selected his contract from Triple-A Syracuse

Lineups for Friday’s Mets-Nationals opener

With left-hander Jonathon Neise on the mound for the Mets, Scott Hairston will return to left field for tonight’s opener of a three-game series at Nationals Park. Right-hander Tanner Roark starts for the Nationals in the 7:05 p.m. For the Mets LF Eric Young Jr.2B Daniel Murphy3B David WrightCF Curtis GrandersonRF Bobby Abreu1B Lucas DudaC Anthony ReckerSS Ruben TejadaLHP Jonathon Niese For the Nationals CF

Nats add Greg Dobbs to active roster, option Leon

The Nationals made a roster move to tweak their bench today, selecting the contract of infielder/outfielder Greg Dobbs from Triple-A Syracuse and optioning catcher Sandy Leon to the Chiefs. Minor league outfielder Eury Perez was recalled from Syracuse and placed on the 60-day disabled list with a left toe fracture. Dobbs will take his spot on the 40-man roster. Dobbs was signed to a minor

After slow start, Clippard right back on track

It ain’t easy being a late-inning reliever. Say you’re Tyler Clippard. You blow a one-run lead in the eighth inning, everyone notices. Fans boo you, reporters are waiting for you at your locker after the game and you feel like you let your team down. If you’re Tyler Clippard and you pitch a scoreless eighth, keeping a one-run eighth-inning lead intact, not nearly as many

At the quarter pole

Hello, East Coast. Nice to see you again. It seems like we haven’t had an off-day at home in years. In reality, it’s been five weeks. But still, nice to be home, get to sleep in your own bed and relax for a day. The Nationals come back to the area with a 21-19 record, now trailing the Braves by 1 1/2 games in the

Williams, Fister and Desmond weigh in on Nats’ win over Diamondbacks

After falling behind in today’s series finale, the Nationals were on the verge of returning to D.C., with a 1-5 record from their six-game road trip. To say today’s game was a must-win might be a little exaggerated, but boy was it important. The Nats capitalized on seven strong innings from Doug Fister and a bases-loaded hit from Ian Desmond in the top of the

We have a pitchers’ duel in the desert (Nats win 5-1)

We’ve got a pitchers’ duel in Arizona. After scoring a combined 15 runs in the last two games, the Nationals and Diamondbacks are scoreless through three innings. Doug Fister has thrown 52 pitches, allowing three hits and striking out four in three innings. Three of Fister’s outs have come via the groundball, which is a good sign for the Nats’ sinker ball pitcher. Fister’s counterpart

Nats continue pursuit of new spring home in Palm Beach County

The Nationals are continuing their efforts to move their spring training headquarters to Palm Beach County, and they may not be the only team exiting Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. The Single-A Brevard County Manatees, a Brewers affiliate that plays in the Florida State League are listening to a pitch from Winter Park, Fla., near Orlando, where a new $30 million stadium would be

Desmond hitting cleanup, McLouth in left for series finale

PHOENIX - The Nationals will try to end their six-game road trip on a winning note. Ian Desmond will be batting cleanup while Nate McLouth will hit eighth and play left field in the series finale against the Diamondbacks. Doug Fister will make his second start of the season. For the Nationals: CF Denard Span 3B Anthony Rendon RF Jayson Werth SS Ian Desmond 2B

Fister gearing up for round two in a Nats uniform

PHOENIX - As Doug Fister’s Nationals debut approached last week, manager Matt Williams cautioned that fans shouldn’t expect too much in the big right-hander’s first start of the season. After all, not only was it the first time Fister was taking the mound in a regular season game this season, but he was coming off six weeks on the disabled list with a strained right

Williams discusses Nats’ 3-1 loss

PHOENIX - Stephen Strasburg pitched pretty well tonight, allowing three runs over seven innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Bronson Arroyo was better, however, throwing his 16th career complete game, allowing just one run, walking one and striking out seven. The Nationals had a few chances against Arroyo, but outside of Ian Desmond’s RBI triple in the second inning, they weren’t able to push

Frandsen gets the start in left against Diamondbacks’ Arroyo

PHOENIX - The Nationals face veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo tonight here at Chase Field in the second game of this three-game set against the Diamondbacks. Manager Matt Williams is going with Kevin Frandsen in left field today, this after Frandsen slugged a game-winning homer in the top of the ninth last night. Stephen Strasburg makes his ninth start this season, looking to improve upon his

About the late-game comeback

PHOENIX - By no means would it have been time to panic if the Nationals had lost last night’s game to the Diamondbacks. But, man, after a rough weekend in Oakland, getting swept by the A’s and outscored 21-4 in that three-game set, last night’s 6-5 comeback win over the D-backs sure felt good for the guys in the Nats clubhouse. “We needed that win,”

Williams discusses Nats’ thrilling comeback win

PHOENIX - Talk about a roller coaster of a ballgame in the desert. Four lead changes, four multi-run half-innings, 13 extra-base hits and a ninth-inning comeback that featured two solo shots from guys who started the season on the Nationals bench. This one had quite a few twists and turns, all right. In the end, the Nats escaped with a dramatic 6-5 win, thanks largely

Lineups for Nats’ series opener in Arizona

PHOENIX - Matt Williams is back in Arizona for the first time as Nationals manager after being hired away from the Diamondbacks. Williams has a long history with Arizona as an original Diamondbacks player, a broadcaster, partial owner and coach. From 2010-13, he was a member of the team’s staff, serving as first base coach and then third base coach. As for the lineup, Tyler

Nats sign Greg Dobbs to minor league deal

PHOENIX - With Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper all currently on the disabled list, the Nationals added an experienced corner infielder and outfielder today, signing veteran Greg Dobbs to a minor league deal. Dobbs, 35, was designated for assignment by the Marlins back on April 29, and Miami released Dobbs last week. The California native appeared in 15 games for the Marlins this

A big series lies ahead

PHOENIX - I’m not one of those guys who calls a game in May a “must-win” or overreacts about a talented team’s performance early on in the season. I’m really not. Trust me. I buy into the whole idea that it’s a 162-game season and that there’s plenty of time for things to come around, if a team plays well enough. That said, this three-game

Williams on Nats’ sweep-clinching 9-1 loss to A’s

Nationals manager Matt Williams covered Gio Gonzalez’s struggles, the dugout incident and other shortfalls he saw in Sunday’s 9-1 loss to the A’s, as well as the sweep as a whole. Here are some selections from Williams’ postgame media session. On whether he had anything special to say to the team after being swept: “No. We got manhandled today. Last night, we had a chance

Nats players react to Gonzalez’s outing and dugout incident

Gio Gonzalez was far from his best when making his first start in Oakland since the A’s traded him to the Nationals in December 2011. The game had essentially been decided by the time the second inning was done with the Nats trailing 7-0 after two on the way to a 9-1 loss to the Athletics. Gonzalez had easily his worst start of the season,

Gonzalez allows four in first in return to Oakland (Nats lose 9-1)

Gio Gonzalez didn’t have a dream start to his first game in Oakland since being traded to the Nationals. The left-hander was torched in the first, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk - all after retiring the first two batters of the game. Josh Donaldson drew a base on balls to start the rally. Yoenis Cespedes then reached on an infield single.

Moore excited for opportunity to be back with Nats

Tyler Moore didn’t need to wait long to rejoin the Nationals. Just four days after being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday, the Nats brought Moore back to help fill in for injured first baseman Adam LaRoche. Moore got in around midnight after playing one game for the Chiefs during a brief minor league stint. Is he rested to play today against the Athletics? “I’ve

Moore at first, Hairston at DH, Gonzalez sees former team for first time

OAKLAND - Tyler Moore wastes no time getting back in the lineup after being called up this morning, as he’s starting at first base for the Nationals’ series finale against the Athletics. Scott Hairston will serve as the designated hitter with Kevin Frandsen in left. The Nats pitch Gio Gonzalez against the A’s Scott Kazmir in a matchup of hot-starting left-handers. Gonzalez is 3-1 with

The injuries continue to mount (Moore called up)

OAKLAND - Get ready for a remarkable piece of information. You prepared? Even though we’re just 35 games into the 2014 season, five of the Nationals’ starting opening day position players have already landed on the disabled list. Adam LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Denard Span. That’s five of the eight. And that doesn’t even include fourth starter Doug Fister, who missed

Williams, Soriano, Storen, Roark discuss Nats’ 4-3 walk-off loss

OAKLAND - This was a tough one. The Nationals led 3-1 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, with their closer on the hill who had delivered 25 consecutive scoreless innings. Tanner Roark had thrown 7 2/3 stellar innings, and the Nats were on their way to securing at least one game of a tough three-game set against the A’s. Instead, they left O.Co Coliseum

LaRoche headed to DL with strained quad

OAKLAND - Just as it looked like the Nationals were starting to get healthier, they’ll lose one of their most productive hitters for at least 15 days. Manager Matt Williams announced after tonight’s 4-3 walk-off loss to the A’s that Adam LaRoche will have to be placed on the 15-day DL with a right quad strain. LaRoche underwent an MRI earlier today, and after examination

Espinosa, Nats get to Gray in third (A’s rally to win 4-3 in 10)

A’s ace Sonny Gray has allowed three earned runs in a game only twice this year. He surrendered that many in an inning when the Nationals jumped all over the American League ERA leader with three runs in the third. With one out, Danny Espinosa launched his fifth homer of the season to right-center for a 1-0 Nats lead. Zach Walters and Denard Span followed

Williams, Tarasco on Nats giving Walters first career start in outfield

In a perfect world, the Nationals would have Bryce Harper in left and Adam LaRoche at first tonight in Oakland. Instead, Zach Walters gets his first start of the season at a position he has never played in the major leagues, and only once patrolled in 465 minor league contests. Walters will man left field for the Nats tonight rather than shortstop or third base,

LaRoche has MRI on quad, Nats to take “serious look” at whether to shelve him

Adam LaRoche’s strained quad could very well land the Nationals first baseman on the disabled list after all. Nothing has been decided, but LaRoche had an MRI done Saturday after the quad tightened again during Friday night’s game, and the Nats will have to decide whether to continue to let him work through it or rehab it to full health. LaRoche served as the team’s

LaRoche sits, Walters makes first start in outfield at A’s

OAKLAND - Adam LaRoche will get to rest his injured quad entirely tonight, as manager Matt Williams has given the veteran first baseman the night off one game after putting him at designated hitter. Williams had said he expected LaRoche to be at first for tonight’s game with Athletics ace Sonny Gray on the mound. The Nationals manager is likely to share why LaRoche is

Takeaways from Fister’s first Nats start

OAKLAND - OK, so Doug Fister’s first start as a National didn’t go as he had hoped. Pitching for his new team, trying to make a positive first impression, with some California-area friends and family members in attendance, Fister allowed seven runs (five earned) on nine hits, and made a throwing error that led to a first-inning run. Again, not exactly how Fister would have

Williams discusses Fister’s rough Nats debut and more defensive miscues

OAKLAND - The good news is that Doug Fister seemingly made it out of his first start back off the disabled list in good shape from a physical standpoint. The not-so-good news is that Fister was hit around in his Nationals debut, and the Nats dropped an 8-0 ballgame to the Athletics in the opener of this three-game set. Fister allowed seven runs (five earned)

Fister’s early error proves costly (Nats lose 8-0)

Doug Fister was in line to start his Nationals debut with an easy first inning - that is, when nerves, enthusiasm or whatever other emotion he took into tonight’s contest appeared to get in the way. Fister got John Jaso and Jed Lowrie to fly out to start the game before Josh Donaldson singled back to the pitcher. Fister didn’t eat the grounder or make

LaRoche on his ailing quad, serving as DH for series opener at A’s

Adam LaRoche has been hampered by a strained quad for a couple of weeks now, and the latest indication that it isn’t better yet came Friday when the Nationals started their sure-handed first baseman as the designated hitter in Oakland. LaRoche said he sees it trending in the right direction, but he’s not surprised it has stuck around this long. “If it wasn’t (getting better),

Williams excited to get Fister back, updates McLouth

For the first time this season, the Nationals rotation is just as they drew it up. Right-hander Doug Fister will make his first start since the Dec. 2 trade that brought him to Washington from Detroit, having overcome elbow inflammation and a lat injury that sidelined him for the first month of the season. Manager Matt Williams expressed excitement to have Fister healthy - and

LaRoche at DH, Frandsen at first for Fister’s Nats debut

OAKLAND - Adam LaRoche will serve as the designated hitter while Kevin Frandsen will man first base as right-hander Doug Fister makes his anticipated Nationals debut tonight against the Athletics. LaRoche will be the Nats’ DH for the second time this season while Frandsen plays first for the first time in 2014. He did start at first 35 times, and appeared there 40 times overall,

Finally getting to see Fister in action

SAN FRANCISCO - Good morning from the West Coast, where it’s been cool and drizzly for most of the last 24 hours. The Nationals flew here after Wednesday’s game in order to give them time to get acclimated to the Bay Area and the time change. It would have been great to get yesterday’s off-day back at home, but a day off in San Francisco

On the roster move and the series win over L.A.

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals made a pre-emptive roster move yesterday in order to clear a spot for Doug Fister, who will start tomorrow night against the Athletics in his Nats debut. I’ll admit that said roster move caught me a little by surprise. The Nats decided to option Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse, leaving three catchers on the active roster for the time being

More on Treinen’s impressive first MLB start

There are scouts and talent evaluators both inside and outside the Nationals organization who feel that Blake Treinen would make for a terrific late-inning reliever at the big league level. He has the velocity for it, throwing a fastball that has been clocked at 100 mph in the past, possesses a hard sinker that gets plenty of ground balls, and also mixes in a slider

After five shutout innings, Treinen’s error paves way for Dodgers

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: An error opened the floodgates to another disappointing Nationals loss. The Nats entered Tuesday night’s game with 27 errors, third-most in the National League, and another pair of fielding miscues resulted in four unearned runs in an 8-3 loss to the Dodgers. Facing reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who was making his return following a

Treinen optioned to Triple-A after first major league start, corresponding move TBA

Blake Treinen pitched his heart out tonight in the Nationals’ 8-3 loss to the Dodgers, allowing just three unearned runs over five-plus innings against a dangerous Los Angeles lineup. Now Treinen will head back to Triple-A Syracuse and try and build off a strong first major league start. The Nationals optioned Treinen back to Syracuse after tonight’s game, but they are not yet ready to

For McLouth, hand gash the most troublesome remnant of collision with wall

Nate McLouth peeled back the white bandage covering the fleshy section of his right hand between his thumb and index finger to reveal a dime-sized divot, the result of his eighth-inning sliding catch Monday night and his collision with the wall in foul territory in left field. The Nationals left fielder left the game after tumbling into the wall to make the catch of Dee

Ramos says he’s ready to return, but Williams doesn’t sound convinced

Catcher Wilson Ramos reappeared in the Nationals clubhouse Tuesday afternoon, fresh off his minor league rehabilitation assignment and bent on showing manager Matt Williams that he was ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list after surgery to remove a broken hamate bone from his left hand. Ramos thinks he’ll be ready to go tomorrow, when the Nats close out their three-home game homestand

Hairston in lineup for Treinen’s first Nationals start

Scott Hairston is in the Nationals lineup tonight, making his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list yesterday after missing time with a strained left oblique. He will bat fifth and play left field. Right-hander Blake Treinen will make his first start for the Nationals tonight, opposing Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. Here’s the Nationals lineup:

Looking back on last night ... and early this morning (with note)

A departure from the press box after 2 a.m. sure doesn’t lend itself well to early morning blog posts. But I figured I had plenty to discuss after last night’s wackiness. Blake Treinen will make his first major league start tonight. Who will the 25-year-old oppose? Only the best pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw. What type of lineup will Treinen face? One that

Treinen to start Tuesday, Mattheus optioned (with McLouth update)

We have finally learned who will start Tuesday night (or, shall I say, later on today) for the Nationals. It’ll be right-hander Blake Treinen, who will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus will be optioned to Syracuse to make room for Treinen on the roster, manager Matt Williams announced after tonight’s 4-0 Nats win, which featured a 3-hour, 17-minute rain delay.

Nats lineup for series opener

The Dodgers come into town for a three-game series with the Nats, who are trying to take advantage of a struggling Braves squad which has dropped its last six games. The Nationals currently sit a half-game out of first in the National League East, and look to end a two-game skid of their own. For the Nationals: CF Denard Span 3B Anthony Rendon RF Jayson

Hairston activated from disabled list

The Nationals this afternoon activated outfielder Scott Hairston (strained left oblique) from the 15-day disabled list. He’ll be in uniform and available for tonight’s opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park. To make room for Hairston on the 25-man roster, outfielder Steven Souza Jr. was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. In two stints with the Nats this season, Souza has

Hanging in and about to get a few “shots in the arm”

I wrote just the other day about the parity in the National League East, but even since then, the layout in the division has gotten more interesting. All five NL East teams now have above-.500 records. Only 1 1/2 games separate first place from last place. That’s parity, folks. The Nationals could have left Philadelphia atop the division had they been able to close out

Strasburg to pitch Wednesday, Fister on Friday

The Nationals have now set two-thirds of their starting rotation for the three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that begins Monday at Nats Park. Washington right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will battle 5-0 Dodgers righty Zack Greinke on Monday. And following Sunday’s loss in Philadelphia, Nats manager Matt Williams announced that right-hander Stephen Strasburg would start for the home team on Wednesday against ex-Nat Dan Haren.

Missed opportunities dog Nats in 1-0 loss to Phillies

You won’t find the Nationals lamenting breaks that didn’t go their way in a 1-0 loss to the Phillies on Sunday. To a man, they admitted they ran into a tough pitcher in Phillies righty Roberto Hernandez., who outdueled Washington’s Gio Gonzalez on an afternoon when windy conditions made things tough for both teams. They Nats ran themselves out of a possible big inning in

Gonzalez strong, but Nats drop finale 1-0

Phillies right-hander Roberto Hernandez is pitching more like Fausto Carmona circa 2010 than the guy who toted a 5.74 ERA into today’s game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Gio Gonzalez is doing his usual routine of holding the opposition in check, but trails 1-0 after three innings. The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the first when Jimmy Rollins tripled with one out

Espinosa gets a day off in series finale vs. Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - Danny Espinosa will get the day off, and Kevin Frandsen will play third base against his former team in today’s series finale. Gio Gonzalez will start for the Nationals, while the Phillies will give the ball to right-hander Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona). Cole Hamels was originally scheduled to start today for the Phils, but he was scratched due to the

About the first-inning deficits

PHILADELPHIA - The comebacks are nice, obviously. Nine comeback wins in 30 games is pretty darn impressive. The problem there is that in order to come back to win a game, you have to trail. And the Nationals would prefer that they don’t trail in games as often as they have. Yesterday marked the eighth time already this season that Nationals pitchers have allowed at

Williams discusses Nats’ 7-2 loss

PHILADELPHIA - Just like last night, the Nationals trailed the Phillies 3-0 before the first inning was complete. Unlike last night, the Nats weren’t able to come back and pick up the win. Ryan Howard’s three-run homer off Tanner Roark in the first put the Nats in another early hole, and the Phillies continued to add on from there, making it 7-0 by the end

Phillies jump out to early lead (Nats lose 7-2)

The Nationals were retired in order by A.J. Burnett in the first before watching the Phillies take an early lead on a three-run home run off the bat of Ryan Howard. After pitching his best outing in his last start, right-hander Tanner Roark is struggling early in Philadelphia. He retired Tony Gwynn Jr., but allowed a single to Jimmy Rollins, who then stole second base.

Fister slated to make first start next week, Williams offers update on Ramos

Offseason acquisition Doug Fister, who is on the disabled list with a strained lat, is set to make his first regular season start in a Nationals uniform next week. Whether that start is on Wednesday or Friday has yet to be determined. Fister made a rehab start with Double-A Harrisburg last night. “Felt strong, felt right where I need to be,” he said in Philadelphia.

LaRoche, McLouth in Nationals lineup

PHILADELPHIA - Despite leaving last night’s game against the Phillies in the eighth inning with a tight quad muscle, first baseman Adam LaRoche is listed in the Nationals’ starting lineup for tonight’s game. Nate McLouth will play left field against Phillies right-hander A.J Burnett. For the Nationals CF Denard Span3B Anthony RendonRF Jayson Werth1B Adam LaRocheSS Ian Desmond2B Danny EspinosaLF Nate McLouthC Jose LobatonRHP Tanner

Some extra takeaways from last night

PHILADELPHIA - I’m really trying not to beat the comeback angle into the ground, but the Nationals just keep overtaking late deficits late in games, forcing me to write about it. Nine comeback wins in 29 games played this season. Pretty amazing. Last night, the Nats chipped away against one of the top starters in the league in Cliff Lee and then again came from

Span on Cliff Lee quick-pitching him up and in: “I didn’t like that at all”

PHILADELPHIA - While there was minimal pushing and shoving in the top of the fifth inning when benches cleared between the Nationals and Phillies, and while the game went on without further incident, tonight’s Denard Span-Cliff Lee spat might be something to keep in mind the next 18 times these teams play each other in 2014. Bad blood can build quickly between division rivals. Span

Williams meets with the media after Nats’ 5-3 comeback win

PHILADELPHIA - Another comeback win. Make that nine on the season. The Nationals trailed 3-0 after one inning of play when Jayson Werth’s dropped fly ball in foul territory kept the inning alive for Marlon Byrd’s three-run shot. They scored one in the third on Tyler Moore’s homer to get on the board. They brought across another in the fifth on Denard Span’s RBI groundout.

Moore’s homer cuts Phils’ lead to 3-1 (Nats rally for 5-3 victory)

The Phillies took a quick 3-0 lead against Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals, with ex-Nat Marlon Byrd crushing a three-run homer in the first inning. All three runs were unearned by virtue of an error charged to right fielder Jayson Werth, who couldn’t come up with a foul pop off Byrd’s bat in the tricky corner at Citizens Bank Park for the third out, prolonging

Williams updates progress of Ramos, Hairston, Fister, Zimmerman

Wilson Ramos caught three innings in an extended spring training game today in Viera, Fla., hitting two homers and a double. But the strong showing may not sway the Nationals from taking the more patient and conservative course in his rehabilitation from surgery to remove the hamate bone from his left hand. “We’ll see how he does tomorrow,” manager Matt Williams said before the Nationals

LaRoche back in Nats lineup, Moore in left

PHILADELPHIA - After sitting out Wednesday’s game against the Astros with a tight quad, Adam LaRoche is back in the Nationals lineup today in the series opener against the Phillies. LaRoche got two days of rest with yesterday’s off-day, and apparently is good to go today. Tyler Moore will play left field tonight, with Kevin Frandsen and Nate McLouth both sitting. The Phillies will send

A common thread within the division

PHILADELPHIA - A little over a month into the 2014 regular season, there isn’t a single National League East team with a sub-.500 record. Wait, what? The Marlins, who lost 100 games last season, are now 14-14 on the season after finishing off a three-game sweep of the Braves. Wait, what? The Mets, who were seven games under .500 last year and are without ace

Plenty of positives to point out

PHILADELPHIA - If you’re reading this, that means that things are back up and running again. So that’s a good thing. Apologies for the technical issues yesterday. Apparently the storms knocked out our server for a while, but those issues are behind us. Let’s talk some baseball. The Nationals got the job done in Houston, sweeping their brief two-game set with Bo Porter’s Astros, who

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