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Show and tell at NatsFest

If you're headed to NatsFest Wednesday at Nationals Park, and I hope you'll drop by the Stars & Stripes Club - on the third-base side - and check out some stuff I'll be bringing from my collection. Those of you who are into uniforms - you know who you are - will have a chance for an up-close look at more than a dozen historic

No green lights with this bunch

It's somewhat unusual - shoot, it's almost unheard of - for a second-division club that's trying to build a winner to actually get older in the off-season, but that seems to be what the Nationals have done with their most recent roster moves. At this point it appears that non-roster invitees Alex Cora (35 years old), Laynce Nix (30), Chad Gaudin (28) and and Matt

Who hits first?

Okay, now who's your leadoff hitter? With Nyjer Morgan traded to Milwaukee, there is no obvious leadoff hitter in what figures to be the everyday lineup. The favorite is Ian Desmond, but his career OBP is just .309. He only walked 28 times in 574 plate appearances last year, and even in the minor leagues, he never walked more than 57 times. Jerry Hairston Jr.

Tom McAvoy, 1936-2011

I suppose you've never heard of Tom McAvoy. He was one of those one-day major leaguers, and his one day happened to come on the final day of the 1959 season, when the Washington Senators played Boston on Sept. 27, a Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. McAvoy, a left-hander, entered the game in the second inning, in relief of another lefty you probably have heard

Compost Night sounds like a winner

When Nationals Park opened as the first certified "green" major league ballpark, it was inevitable that some other teams would do something to up the ante. Today it appears that the "other" Washington team - the Seattle Mariners - have done just that. At several games this season, Mariners' fans at Safeco Field will be offered bags of compost. Not just any run-of-the-mill compost, mind

Broderick making his case

Part of the Nationals' revamped bullpen this year will likely be righthander Brian Broderick. In seven appearances this spring - 10.2 innings - Broderick has allowed only four hits and a single earned run. A sinkerballer, Broderick's strength has been his ability to locate his pitches in the bottom of the strike zone. He's allowed very little contact that's resulted in fly balls. His batting

Preventing injury in the dugout

When minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh was killed by a line drive in July of 2007, the call went out for base coaches to start wearing batting helmets. By the following year it was mandatory throughout professional baseball. On March 9, Atlanta Braves' minor league skipper Luis Salazar was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Brian McCann. Salazar was

Ramos looks like a regular

VIERA, Fla. - Based on his performance down here this spring, I tend to believe that when October rolls around, Wilson Ramos will have handled the bulk of the catching chores with the Nationals in 2011. And really, why not? On a roster that is building for the future, Ramos, at 23, would seem to be in the same position Jesus Flores was in a

Another strong outing for Marquis

VIERA, Fla. - If you'd seen Jason Marquis down here last year, you might have wondered why the Nationals had wanted him in the first place. In five starts he allowed about a run an inning - an ERA over. The Nationals weren't concerned, since Marquis' previous spring - with Colorado - had produced an ERA over 10, and he went on to match his

Zimmermann continues to impress

VIERA, Fla. - Ahhh, spring training. You like to think that the numbers generated during a month of exhibition play really mean something tangible, but as my MASN broadcast partner Dave Johnson - who knows a thing or to about it - frequently points out, it's really too small of a sample to count for much. That said, a lot of folks down here -

Bryce Harper's Roman holiday

Viera, Fla. - Opening day will presumably find 18-year-old Bryce Harper in the starting lineup against the Braves - the Rome Braves of the Single-A South Atlantic League. Harper was assigned to Hagerstown after yesterday's game, and the Suns open their season April 7 on the road. If you're contemplating showing up for the game, you might want to go to the Rome Braves Web

More baseball talk on MASN

VIERA, Fla. - If you watched today's Nationals-Yankees tilt on MASN, then perhaps you heard the cat being let out of the proverbial bag when I joined Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo in the sixth inning. If not, then here's what you missed. Beginning March 31 at 5 p.m. - after the Nationals home opener against Atlanta - MASN will premiere a new Monday-Friday program

Yankees-Nats pregame

VIERA, Fla. - There was a Derek Jeter sighting here about 30 minutes ago. I can't vouch for it myself, and his name isn't on the Yankees' travel roster for today's game. In fact, the only recognizable names on the sheet are A.J.Burnett, Russell Martin, Jesus Montero, Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and former Nat Justin Maxwell. The rest are all guys wearing numbers higher than

The utility infield slot

VIERA, Fla. -The battle for the backup infield positions will likely continue for another couple of weeks, but it's hard not to like what Alex Cora and Brian Bixler are doing down here. Cora's been on base nine of his 16 plate appearances, and Bixler is hitting .533 in 19 plate appearances. Bixler is also slugging 1.067, with three doubles, a triple, a home run,

Measuring success in March

VIERA, Fla. - Spring training means different things to different people. After today's 6-5 Nationals win over the Mets in a split-squad game, New York third baseman David Wright is batting .067. Anybody out there think for a second he won't be the opening day third baseman for the Metropolitans? Of course he will, barring injury, even if he goes hitless over the next three

Viera, Verizon and the Mets-Nats tilt

VIERA, Fla. - Greetings from a damp and cloudy Viera. I arrived last night, still reeling from the news that Verizon is discontinuing its time and weather service. Weather, OK, I understand that. But time? I'm sorry, but that's a service I use frequently when I'm getting my boarding pass online for a flight the next day. I know I'm not the only one who

First Astros, now Padres in need of help behind the plate

As you've seen in MASNsports.com's Ben Goessling's update, the Houston Astros are very likely looking for a catcher. Jason Castro, their starting catcher and former first-round draft pick, will likely miss the entire season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Now, it seems, another NL team is in the market for a receiver. Gregg Zaun has informed the Padres that he's

Nick Charles' D.C. Days

Perhaps you've seen Joe Posnanski's story in Sports Illustrated about Nick Charles. but if you haven't, and remember Nick from his days in Baltimore and Washington, you owe it to yourself to read it. Nick was diagnosed with Stage IV bladder cancer in 2009, and just over a full year later, after much chemo, has reached the point where there's little else that he can

The off-kilter curly W

A couple of folks have e-mailed me links to the Nationals message board on mlb.com and a conversation regarding the ballclub's new home uniforms. In short, there's a perception that the curly W on the front is crooked. One person claims the replica shirts actually get it right, but the shirts the Nats are wearing seem to be consistently crooked. I can't confirm it myself

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