Not worried about status, Downs thankful for fresh start with Nats


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Jeter Downs is used to being in the spotlight.

He was a 2017 first-round pick (32nd overall) by the Reds out of Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, Fla. He has been a central piece of two major trades during his professional career, including the blockbuster Mookie Betts trade between the Dodgers and Red Sox in 2020. And he has been considered a top prospect in baseball, topping the Red Sox system and ranking as high as No. 44 in the sport, per MLB Pipeline.

But he now finds himself with his fourth organization in his sixth season of pro ball. No longer a top prospect, he’s battling for the backup infielder’s job with the Nationals.

Excuse the pun, but he is not down on himself.

“It's been great,” Downs said of his first spring training with the Nats. “I thank God for this opportunity. The guys have been great, super fun group we have here and we're just taking it one day at a time.”

Continue reading

How Kieboom and Candelario news affects Nats at third base


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Today is an off-day for the Nationals, the last one until the team breaks camp and heads north for an exhibition game against the Yankees in D.C. on March 28 before Opening Day against the Braves two days later.

But enough news trickled out of the team’s side of the complex at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches yesterday to get us through today. And both of the major headlines affect the Nats at third base.

The first was the morning news that Carter Kieboom suffered a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. The 25-year-old had just played in his first major league game in 17 months on Thursday as the designated hitter against the Marlins and now will be slowed down in camp.

“It started to flare up on me,” Kieboom said of his right shoulder tightness after Sunday’s game against the Astros. “And the last thing I want to do in this situation where I'm coming back is have something like this bother me and then you start kind of tweaking your own mechanics and start compensating for things. And that's what gets you in trouble again. So it's important to pay attention to these things. Whether it's an early onset of it, it's important to take care of it now that way it's a one-to-two-to-three-day thing versus a two-to-three-week thing. So we're on it very early and it's just something to stay on top of.

“It's important to have proper mechanics and with a healthy arm, I can have proper mechanics. It's something coming back from an elbow injury, you don't want a sore shoulder. You start dropping your arm and stuff like that. So I think we're on it very early and I feel very confident with it.”

Continue reading

Corbin crisp in second start, Candelario joining Dominican team

corbin @BAL blue

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Patrick Corbin’s last three seasons have been well documented. The numbers don’t need to be repeated. It’s best to just look forward.

The veteran left-hander took a positive step forward this afternoon in just his second spring training start in what resulted in a 6-2 loss to the Astros in front of 3,240 fans at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The emphasis for Corbin, and all of the Nationals starters, has been working quickly and throwing strikes. He was able to do both while completing 2 ⅔ innings and throwing 50 pitches, 34 for strikes. He became the first Nats pitcher to go that deep in a game this spring.

“Pretty good. It was good to get a third up there,” Corbin said of pitching into the third inning. “I felt pretty good throughout, even getting up to 50 (pitches). They had a couple of longer at-bats, a couple of their guys. But that was good. I think trying to get in that rhythm to kind of work fast but also be in control and be sure you're ready to go. So I think overall pretty good.”

Pitching the bottom of the first inning for the away team against a lot of Astros regulars, Corbin’s outing started with back-to-back five-pitch strikeouts of Jose Altuve and Jeremy Peña. He then got Martín Maldonado to ground out to short on three pitches to finish the first inning with 13 total, nine for strikes.

Continue reading

Kieboom suffers setback in Tommy John recovery

kieboom dugout fives gray

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – After seemingly positive results in what was a major milestone in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, it was revealed today that Carter Kieboom has suffered a setback.

The 25-year-old, who played in his first major league game in 17 months on Thursday, is experiencing tightness in his right shoulder and has been slowed down by the team.

“Carter had a little setback. Now it's his shoulder,” manager Davey Martinez said this morning. “He's got some tightness in his right shoulder. I think because of the Tommy John, this is part of it. So we're gonna be really careful with him and kind of build up some strength in that shoulder and then go from there. It's all the throwing. He said he could hit. But I told him, 'Let's just back off a little bit. We got time, build up some strength in that shoulder and then we'll get you back out there as soon as the trainers deem ready.'”

Kieboom had been taking part in infield drills over the first few weeks of camp. While he was cleared to throw, he would do so strictly overhand, not yet using a sidearm motion. He even took a couple of days off from throwing completely, participating in the same drills without actually releasing the ball.

His hitting has not been affected by his recovery. He participated in Thursday’s game as the designated hitter and went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a run scored.

Continue reading

Starting lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach

Yadiel Hernandez swing white

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Today is the first of three times this spring the Nationals enjoy the benefit of sharing the complex at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches with the Astros. Although technically the “away” team, the Nats don’t have to travel anywhere. They just show up to their side of the complex like normal and prepare for a game in their home stadium.

Patrick Corbin will make his second start of the spring, and since he showed up to camp early and is a little further along than the other starters, he’s expected to go a little deeper in the game. He threw 22 pitches in 1 ⅔ innings on Tuesday, so he might pitch into the third inning and get over 40 pitches this afternoon.

The relievers following the lefty out of the bullpen will be Thaddeus Ward, Paolo Espino, Hunter Harvey and Mason Thompson, among others.

The Nats lineup includes regulars Luis García, Joey Meneses, Dominic Smith, Jeimer Candelario and Keibert Ruiz. Notable backups include Ildemaro Vargas, Jake Alu, Riley Adams and Matt Adams.

Israel Pineda is not included among the backup catchers after getting hit by a pitch in the hand during yesterday’s game. Drew Millas and Brady Lindsly are listed behind Ruiz and Riley Adams.

The game will be broadcast on 106.7 The Fan back in the D.C. area.

Where: The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
TV: None
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees, wind 8 mph in from center field

CF Alex Call
2B Luis García
1B Joey Meneses
DH Dominic Smith
3B Jeimer Candelario
C Keibert Ruiz
RF Stone Garrett
LF Yadiel Hernandez
SS Jeter Downs

LHP Patrick Corbin

2B Jose Altuve
SS Jeremy Peña
C Martín Maldonado
3B Alex Bregman
RF Kyle Tucker
1B José Abreu
LF David Hensley
DH Bligh Madris
CF Jacob Melton

RHP Luis Garcia

García quickly improving his patience

CJ Abrams Luis Garcia gray celebrate

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Luis García is an energetic personality in the Nationals clubhouse.

Ever since he made his major league debut with the team back during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he’s been the fun-loving, goofy kid on the team.

It’s even more noticeable now that he has a partner-in-crime in CJ Abrams.

What else can you expect from two 22-year-olds playing a game for a living?

García’s skills with a bat in his hands have been clear since he went 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored in his debut three years ago: He can hit.

Continue reading

Gray and Cavalli working fast and attacking hitters

Josiah Gray blue home

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – It was a rare day – and probably the last of this spring – when you saw two Nationals starting pitchers appear in the same game.

Luckily for Nats fans, it was two-thirds of the young Big Three they’re hoping leads this rotation for years to come.

Because of Sunday’s split-squad games and Monday’s off-day, Josiah Gray's and Cade Cavalli’s next scheduled times to pitch a game both landed today, in what would end up as a 9-6 loss to the Cardinals in front of 3,260 fans. They both had the same plan: Complete two innings and throw between 35 and 40 pitches, with Gray starting the game and Cavalli following out of the bullpen.

They both completed their objectives, in similar yet somehow different ways.

Gray started the game with a three-pitch strikeout of Brendan Donovan. He then gave up back-to-back singles before getting a popup and groundout to finish the frame on 12 pitches, nine strikes.

Continue reading

Hill has hamstring strain, Edwards feels fine, Sánchez visits camp

edwards pitching white

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Nationals have been anxiously awaiting the results of Derek Hill’s MRI on his right hamstring. The 27-year-old outfielder had to depart Wednesday’s game against the Yankees in Tampa after pulling up while running to first base trying to beat out a grounder to third.

Hill wasn’t able to get his MRI until Thursday night and the Nationals had to wait all day Friday for a doctor to read it, which caused the delay in the results. And the news wasn’t good: Somewhere between a Grade 1 and Grade 2 right hamstring strain that will set him back for an undetermined amount of time.

“He's got a, I'd say, between a (Grade) 1 and 2, so let's call it 1.5 strain with his right hamstring,” manager Davey Martinez said this morning. “There's really no timetable. Actually, I can say he's been kind of doing limited stuff, but they're working on it. So hopefully, he'll be back sooner than later.”

Hill has been competing for the fourth outfielder’s spot with Alex Call and Stone Garrett, and his chances of making the club have now taken a serious hit. As unfortunate as that is for him, the Nationals are going to be cautious before allowing him to return to the field.

"We want to make sure that he's healthy," Martinez said. "And I will talk to him today and reiterate that: 'Look, I love what I saw so far. I really did. So let's get you healthy. I don't know how long it's gonna take, but let's get you healthy. And we'll get you back out as soon as you can.'"

Despite the diagnosis and lack of a timetable, the Nationals are remaining optimistic Hill can return before the end of spring training.

“It's actually best-case scenario because it was the belly of the muscle,” Martinez said. “It wasn't low, where it's about your knee, which obviously takes a lot longer, or up in your glute area, which takes a long time. So we're very optimistic that he could come back here, hopefully, soon. But like you said, time will tell how he heals.”

The Nats actually had some good news today in that there was no health news to report on Carl Edwards Jr. After the right-hander was charged with four runs on three hits and two walks while only recording one out in the fifth inning of yesterday’s game against the Mets, Martinez expressed some postgame concern because Edwards’ velocity was down.

But a conversation with the reliever after arriving back from Port St. Lucie revealed the reliever feels fine physically.

“We talked to him last night and our trainer talked to him last night,” Martinez said. “He said he's fine. He said nothing's wrong. Just takes him a little while to get going in spring training. And I do remember last year when he was here, he came early to that early camp. So before we got into any games, he was already throwing quite a bit. But we're gonna keep a close eye on him to make sure that he's building up and getting ready for the season. He really reiterated yesterday he was fine.”

Edwards’ fastball was averaging 92 mph yesterday and only topped out at 94. It averaged 94 mph last year. His curveball averaged 77 mph yesterday, but averaged 80 mph last year. And his changeup averaged 87 mph yesterday while averaging 90 mph last year, but Martinez says that Edwards is actually working on slowing down his changeup.

“I think he's trying to be a little bit quicker with his delivery,” the skipper said. “And I told him, 'You don't have to be any quicker, you're quick enough.' And he's trying to take a little bit more off his changeup. So I don't know if that has anything to do with it. But I told him, I said, 'Hey, what you did last year worked great. So why are you gonna mess with that? Just go out there and attack the strike zone.'

“The biggest thing with him was that he threw strikes and he was ahead of hitters. When he's ahead of hitters, he's really good. When he falls behind hitters, it's when he gets himself in trouble. But we'll see. Hopefully, his next outing will be a little bit better. But I definitely want to keep an eye on him.”

* Aníbal Sánchez is visiting Nationals camp today, and before anyone gets too worked up about it, he is not here to sign with the team.

Sánchez, of course a member of the 2019 World Series champion team known for his “butterfly” changeup, was seen catching up with Martinez and former teammate Matt Adams outside the Nats clubhouse this morning.

With a smile on his face, as always, Sánchez was sharply dressed in all white, looking more like he was going to soak in a day of baseball here in West Palm instead of preparing to play some.

Starting lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in West Palm Beach

Lane Thomas swing white

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Nationals get to play their next two games on their home field, starting with this afternoon’s matchup with the Cardinals.

Josiah Gray and Cade Cavalli are both expected to make their second spring appearances today at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Gray will start the game and Cavalli will follow out of the bullpen, with both expected to go about two innings and throw around 35-40 pitches.

The Nationals lineup includes a lot of regulars, with CJ Abrams, Lane Thomas, Corey Dickerson, Joey Meneses, Dominic Smith, Jeimer Candelario, Keibert Ruiz and Victor Robles starting today. Jake Alu is the only starter who is battling for a spot this spring.

The game can be heard on 106.7 The Fan back in the D.C. area.

Where: The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
TV: None
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Weather: Partly cloudy, 89 degrees, wind 11 mph out to right-center field

SS CJ Abrams
RF Lane Thomas
LF Corey Dickerson
DH Joey Meneses
1B Dominic Smith
DH Jeimer Candelario
C Keibert Ruiz
2B Jake Alu
CF Victor Robles

RHP Josiah Gray

3B Brendon Donovan
LF Jordan Walker
2B Nolan Gorman
C Wilson Contreras
1B Juan Yepez
DH Paul DeJong
RF Moisés Gómez
SS Juniel Querecuto
CF Mike Antico

LHP Connor Thomas

Quiet Alu making loud impact in camp with underdog mentality


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Not much has been thought of Jake Alu from an outsider’s point of view throughout his baseball career.

He was not a top prospect coming out of Boston College. He was not a top prospect on the Nationals farm after they selected him in the 24th round of the 2019 draft. And people outside of the organization didn’t take much notice of his steady climb through four levels of the system over the last three minor league seasons.

And quite frankly, that’s just the way he likes it.

“I definitely see myself as a little underdog,” Alu said. “But honestly, I just go out there and I've never stepped on a field and felt, 'Wow, I can't compete here at all.' I've always been there trying to prove myself. When I play with better people, it makes me play better.”

Whether or not you’ve noticed him, the 25-year-old has earned his spot in his first major league spring training.

Continue reading

Nats adjust to pitch clock to beat Scherzer, Mets

garcia hr @ NYM gray

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – A lot was made this week of Max Scherzer’s use of the pitch clock when he started against a Nationals split squad on Sunday here at Clover Park.

While manipulating the pitch clock by coming set early and then either throwing very quickly or holding onto the ball until the very last second, Scherzer struck out five Nationals and only gave up three hits and one run in two innings.

Today, however, the Nats were ready for it. And along with help from some poor Mets defense, the guys in red were able to tag the former Nationals ace back en route to an 11-6 win in front of 5,441 fans in Port St. Lucie.

“We had a plan,” manager Davey Martinez said of facing Scherzer the second time this week. “We talked to the players. We taught them how to kind of work the clock. He can't quick-pitch you. If he does and you're not engaged, it should be called a balk, like you saw what happened. But you gotta understand what the clock is for. … I think they learned today how much time they really have.”

Scherzer had perfect first and second innings on just 21 pitches. It seemed like he was about to repeat his Sunday result with fewer strikeouts.

Continue reading

Quick notes as Nats and Mets get underway from Port St. Lucie


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – It’s not always a newsy day at spring training. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it leaves a lot to be desired.

Today was one of those days when the Nationals got in some early work and prepared for their game 45 minutes up the road in Port St. Lucie against the Mets. Starting pitcher Trevor Williams, facing his former team for the first time, is scheduled to go two innings and 35-40 pitches. Regulars in the starting lineup (facing Max Scherzer to start) include CJ Abrams, Luis García, Joey Meneses, Jeimer Candelario and Victor Robles. Victor Arano, Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Joan Adon and Jake Irvin made the trip to come out of the bullpen.

Here are some quick notes from manager Davey Martinez when he met with the media this morning:

* There is still no news on Derek Hill’s hamstring. He was scheduled to have an MRI yesterday, but it didn’t happen until last night, so the team is waiting to hear back from a doctor this afternoon. Hill suffered a hamstring injury on Wednesday against the Yankees in Tampa by racing down the first base line while trying to beat out a chopper to third.

“We're waiting for a doctor to read the MRI on Derek Hill,” Martinez said. “We'll know something this afternoon. He had an MRI last night, it was the only time to get him in. He seems to be doing OK. He was riding a bike today. So hopefully, we get a read on this thing. We'll definitely know more, but hopefully it's not that big of a deal. I'd like to get him back as soon as possible. I want to see him play.”

Continue reading

Starting lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie

max-metsMax Scherzer #21 of the New York Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – After Wednesday's eight-hour round trip to Tampa, the 45-minute ride up to Port St. Lucie today doesn’t seem all too bad for the Nationals. They were able to arrive at their home complex at a normal time, receive treatment and maybe get in some early work before boarding the bus to go play the Mets.

Trevor Williams, making his second start of the spring, gets his first crack at his former team this afternoon after appearing in 40 games in parts of the last two seasons with the Mets. Signed to a two-year, $13 million contract this offseason, the 30-year-old right-hander tossed a scoreless first inning in his Nationals debut Sunday against the Astros.

The Nationals lineup, which includes regulars CJ Abrams, Luis García, Joey Meneses, Jeimer Candelario and Victor Robles, will get another opportunity to face old friend Max Scherzer, who struck out five over two innings on Sunday.

Scheduled to follow Williams out of the bullpen are Victor Arano, Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Joan Adon and Jake Irvin.

Update: The game will be nationally broadcast on MLB Network, and not blacked out back in the D.C. area. If you happen to be in New York, the Mets feed will also be on SNY. The Nats radio broadcast can also be heard on

Continue reading

After 17 months, Kieboom's return to games a "big win"

kieboom dugout fives gray

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – It was 516 days since Carter Kieboom last took the field in a major league game before making his Grapefruit League debut Thursday against the Marlins.

That’s 17 long months of waiting through a lockout, gearing up for a shortened spring training, being shut down for the year without appearing in game due to Tommy John surgery and rehabbing for this upcoming season. All of it building up to yesterday’s anticipated return to action.

“Honestly, just happy to be out there again. It's been a long time,” Kieboom said, exhibiting a sense of relief after appearing as the designated hitter in yesterday’s 5-5 tie. “Ultimately, I just wanted to see, today my goal was to see as many pitches as I could. Just get comfortable in there. My first at-bat, I saw a couple of really good pitches to hit, the first two, I thought. But it's just most important for me to see the pitches … the last couple of years, it's been difficult to stick with my approach. And then I had about nine months to 10 months to prepare about sticking with an approach. And that's all today was about, just going up there with a plan and then sticking with it all game long, regardless of your results.”

For how long he had to wait, the results were a bit anticlimactic. In his first plate appearance since Oct. 3, 2021, he was hit in the foot by the fourth pitch he saw. He made it count, however, by coming around to score on Jeimer Candelario’s two-run double.

In his second time at the plate, Kieboom struck out looking at an inside fastball to end a five-pitch at-bat. But he redeemed himself the next time up by drawing a full-count walk and stealing second base. And then, finally, in his fourth appearance, he struck out with a check swing on the fifth pitch with two outs and two runners in scoring position.

Continue reading

Gore not as sharp, but taking positives away from second spring start

gore padres

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Every time MacKenzie Gore steps on the mound in a Nationals uniform – whether during spring training or the regular season, home or away – he’s going to draw a lot of attention.

Comes with the territory of being included in one of the biggest trades in major league history.

After throwing 18 pitches (13 strikes) in one inning during his debut on Saturday, the 24-year-old left-hander was scheduled to go two frames and 35-40 pitches in this afternoon’s game against the Marlins, which resulted in a 5-5 tie in front of 1,819 fans at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in a seemingly long 2 hours and 42 minutes.

Although not as sharp as he was his first time out, Gore was able to hit his target for the day by throwing 34 pitches, 23 strikes, in two innings.

“It wasn't quite as good as I thought we've been through camp so far,” Gore said. “But we got in two innings and there were some good things. But I didn't think it was quite as good as we had been up to this point.”

Continue reading

Kieboom returns to game action, Martinez maps out pitching plans

kieboom dugout fives gray

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – On March 18, 2022, the day of the Nationals’ first game of a shortened spring training due to the lockout, Carter Kieboom felt something wrong in his throwing arm during pregame warmups. He was scratched from the starting lineup, had an MRI the following day and was placed on the 60-day injured list two days later with a right forearm flexor mass/ulnar collateral ligament strain. About two months later, he underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his fourth big league season before it even started.

Today, about a year later, Kieboom is back in the Nationals lineup for the first time this spring, batting ninth as the designated hitter in a game against the Marlins at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Although his return to game action is a significant step in his recovery, the Nationals are still taking a slow and cautious approach with the third baseman.

“We just want to give him some at-bats,” manager Davey Martinez said. “Like I said, we're going to kind of ease into this thing with him, so he gets to DH and get him some at-bats and get him going.”

Kieboom has been fine swinging the bat in camp. It’s throwing that still remains a work in progress. But any sort of game action, even just hitting as the DH, will be helpful.

Continue reading

Starting lineups: Nats vs. Marlins in West Palm Beach


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – After making the 3 1/2-hour trek to Tampa yesterday for what resulted in a 4-2 walk-off loss to the Yankees, the Nationals return to Florida’s Atlantic side for the first of their next five games taking place in the greater West Palm Beach area.

Those in attendance today at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will get their first look at MacKenzie Gore in a Nats home uniform after he made his debut on Saturday against the Cardinals in Jupiter. The young southpaw allowed just one hit with one strikeout and threw 18 pitches (13 strikes) to four batters in a scoreless inning that afternoon. Today, he’ll go a little deeper into the game, pitching multiple innings for the first time.

They’ll also get the first look at Carter Kieboom in live game action in about a year since needing Tommy John surgery. He’s batting ninth as the designated hitter.

The Nationals have a handful of regulars in today’s lineup, including Lane Thomas, Corey Dickerson, Jeimer Candelario, Dominic Smith, Keibert Ruiz and Victor Robles. The relievers expected to follow Gore out of the bullpen include Paolo Espino, Thaddeus Ward, Mason Thompson and Hunter Harvey.

Where: The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
TV: None
Radio: (Marlins broadcast)
Weather: Sunny, 84 degrees, wind 12 mph out to left field

Continue reading

Dickerson eyeing top of lineup while taking veteran approach to spring

Corey Dickerson

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – With more than nine years of major league service time, Corey Dickerson is by far one of the most experienced players at Nationals spring training, behind only Stephen Strasburg (who remains in D.C. after a setback in his recovery from thoracic outlet surgery over the offseason) and Patrick Corbin.

He is used to the grind of a six-week camp and 162-game season. He is even used to Grapefruit League play, having spent the last three spring trainings 15 minutes up the road with the Marlins and Cardinals in Jupiter and the previous four springs on the Gulf Coast side of the state with the Rays and Pirates.

All of that experience has allowed Dickerson to be one of the few players taking a veteran approach to his first spring training in West Palm Beach after signing a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Nationals in January.

“It's just a normal spring for me, it feels like,” Dickerson said of his adjustment to his new team so far in camp. “Played with a few guys, know a few guys, but it's been really easy adjusting and just going about my business. Putting in the work every day and guys have been great.

“Just work. Make sure I get quality work in every single day. Kinda be locked into details, really hone in on the fundamentals, try to get fundamentally sound before the season. I think if I do that all the big things take care of themselves.”

Continue reading

Finnegan not concerned about specific role in Nats bullpen

Kyle Finnegan throw gray Mothers Day cap

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Kyle Finnegan has come a long way in three seasons with the Nationals since signing a major league contract as a minor league free agent in December 2019.

The 31-year-old went from unknown rookie who flashed impressive stuff in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season to trusted reliever who fizzled out late in 2021 to de facto closer in his first complete major league season in 2022.

Now entering his fourth season with the club, the right-hander isn’t too concerned about his role in the Nationals bullpen. He just knows he’ll make most of his appearances in the later innings.

“Back end of the bullpen, which you know is up for hot hand-type situations,” Finnegan said of his role this season. “I was told I'll get some chances back there, but we also have so many good guys that we can play matchups a little bit and bring guys in in different situations. So I think kind of building off last year, we've got a lot of guys that are feeling confident and having success. Having too many guys is always a good thing.”

Too many guys is a good thing, especially when the inevitable injury bug hits that part of the roster, as was the case last year when Sean Doolittle and Tanner Rainey went down in the first couple of months with season-ending injuries.

Continue reading

Davey Martinez remembers a meaningful gesture from the late Ted Lerner

Ted Lerner Davey Martinez

While all the excitement surrounding the start of a new season is down in West Palm Beach, hearts remain heavy in D.C. for the late Ted Lerner, the Nationals’ founding principal owner who passed away at the age of 97 on Monday.

The stories of how Lerner’s life was entrenched in Washington baseball have been told numerous times over the past few days. How he was born on the same day the Senators lost Game 7 of the 1925 World Series, and how he grew up to become an usher at old Griffith Stadium. How he purchased the Nationals in 2006, one year after the franchise moved to D.C. from Montreal. And how he built the team into a perennial contender that claimed four National League East division titles before winning the NL Wild Card Game, the NL pennant on his 94th birthday and the World Series two weeks later in 2019.

The team, general manager Mike Rizzo and Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred have all released statements filled with condolences and kind words about the late Nats owner.

“Mr. Lerner was an irreplaceable presence whose passing leaves a profound void in the Washington Nationals family,” Rizzo said in his statement. “He was truly one of a kind.

“Those of us who had the privilege of working for Mr. Lerner observed a brilliant business mind and a uniquely thoughtful form of analysis. His confident, systematic approach to challenges provided me a life-long lesson in persistence and perseverance. His influence on me was immeasurable and I will always be grateful for the opportunities he afforded the entire Nationals organization.

Continue reading