You may have already heard, but Nationals pitchers Collin Balester and John Lannan both recently joined Twitter. On Tuesday afternoon, they began a race toward 500 followers on the popular social networking platform.
Balester, aka @BallyStar40, joined a week ago and has the early lead with 267 followers. Newcomer Lannan, aka @JLannan31, began tweeting on Tuesday and already has 179 followers.
The race has prompted both pitchers to offer up prizes for their 300th, 400th and 500th followers including game tickets, signed baseballs, batting practice passes and, perhaps, a clubhouse tour.
Both pitchers have a way to go before catching up to top Nationals prospect @DrewStoren, who already has over 1200 followers.
Balester admits that it's sometimes difficult for athletes to have a dialogue with fans on the internet, but that those fears should not prevent them from exploring these new opportunities.
"People try and scare you that bad things are going to happen to you if you Twitter or Facebook or anything like that and it's just not true," said Balester.
"Yes, you have to be careful and watch what you say but I do this for the fans -- to interact with them. I know they like that and I will continue to do that my whole career because this game is all about the fans...I like to share with the fans as much as possible and show them that I'm just a regular guy from CA, nothing special."
Balester hopes that his teammates including Garrett Mock, Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman and Willie Harris will follow his lead.
"For some reason a lot of funny stuff happens to me, so stay tuned," Balester said.