NLDS notebook: Williams on Zimmerman, Porter gets new gig, Morse sits, Hudson retreats

Reading between the lines of Nationals manager Matt Williams' comments in his media session this morning, Ryan Zimmerman could be pointing toward a start in Game 3 of the National League Division Series when the Giants start left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

Zimmerman said yesterday that he is comfortable coming off the bench, and that will be his role today in Game 1. Williams opted to start Anthony Rendon at third base and Bryce Harper in left field, so Zimmerman will be a bat in reserve.

But when the Nationals travel to AT&T Park for Game 3 against Bumgarner, Williams could take advantage of the southpaw on the hill to play Zimmerman, who has battled injuries for much of this season. Zimmerman is 3-for-17 lifetime against Bumgarner, but two of the three hits are a double and a home run.

"We may look at matchups," Williams said. "You know, we get Bumgarner (in) Game 3, unless they have some type of issue. We will look at that. We will look at possible scenarios where he is coming in to face a late inning guy with men on base. You know, he is certainly a great option for us. But from a starting perspective, we will look at the matchups that we could possibly get him out there, to start a game as well."

If Zimmerman plays, the question is where. He's not appeared at third base since returning from a severe right hamstring strain in late September, and that position has been ably manned by Rendon. Putting him in left field, means one of the other outfielders - Harper, center fielder Denard Span or right fielder Jayson Werth - sits. And starting Zimmerman at first base robs the Nats of Adam LaRoche's superior glove.

PORTER'S NEW JOB: Former Nationals third base coach Bo Porter has a new gig, and the Nationals will be seeing a lot more of him.

porter sunglasses sidebar.jpgPorter today was named third base coach of the Braves, replacing Doug Dascenzo, who was not retained on Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez's staff. Porter left the Nationals after the 2012 season to manage the Houston Astros, but was relieved of his duties in September.

A Gonzalez-Porter reunion is not surprising. They worked closely in Miami when both were with the Marlins.

MORSE OFF ROSTER: Ex-Nats outfielder Michael Morse didn't make the Giants roster for the NLDS. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said he wanted to wait until after yesterday's workout to get a sense of how Morse's injured oblique was before settling on his roster, but Morse didn't pass muster.

"As far as Morse, he is close. Actually, his batting practice was pretty good. Is he 100 percent? No. Taking that into play, along with he hadn't faced pitching in about a month, we just decided to go with (Gary) Brown. He would give us a few more options versus the one pinch hit appearance maybe by Morse."
Bochy said the Giants may send Morse to fall instructional league, where he can get regular at-bats and perhaps be ready should the Giants advance to the NL Championship Series. Morse appeared in only one game and had only two at-bats after Aug. 31.

"They are off Sunday down there. Maybe when we get back to San Francisco, send him down there to play on Monday. Give him a few at bats. Just cover ourselves. We don't know what is going to happen. You need to be prepared. I think it would give us a sense of comfort. And I think it would for Michael, too. The fact that he would be able to go down, and play some left field and get some live at bats in a game."

HUDSON BACKS OFF: Right-hander Tim Hudson, the Giants' Game 2 starter, met with the media Friday morning and it didn't take long before he was asked about a controversial comment he made that appeared to diss the Nationals' chances of success in the NLDS against the 2010 and 2012 World Series champion Giants.

"Obviously they have a talented group over there, there's no question," Hudson told The Washington Post several days ago. "They have some great pitching. But come playoff time, talent can take you a long ways, but what do you have between your legs? That's going to take you real far. And I think we've got a group in here that really has some of that."

Hudson backed off from those comments.

"I was absolutely not questioning their heart or their intestinal fortitude," Hudson said. "I was referring to our team. Obviously, they have a lot of talent over there. They have some guys who know how to play the game and play the game hard. It is easy to go out there and win when you have a group like that. I was speaking on our behalf, on our team. I feel like we have a team that can go out there, grind things out. I feel like we play tough baseball. We have guys who are tough as nails in the locker room. That is what I was referring to.

"Obviously, things have a tendency to get turned around a little bit when comments like that are made. I was referring to our club, not theirs. I don't think of their team like that. I am talking about what we have in our locker room. The guys we have in the locker room, they come with it. It is an honor to be on the field with those guys."

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