Harper and Hamels meet again, plus other notes and quotes

Harper and Hamels meet again, plus other notes and quotes
It was a little over a year ago that Cole Hamels decided to welcome Bryce Harper to the major leagues in his own special way - by drilling Harper in the back with a 93 mph fastball. Harper took his lumps like a champ, merely turning away and jogging to first base, never turning to look at Hamels, and then responded by stealing home later in the inning. The old pals will be reunited today at Nationals Park, when the Nats and Phillies square off in the rubber game of this three-game set. This...
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Back-to-back pitches, back-to-back homers off Haren (updated)

Back-to-back pitches, back-to-back homers off Haren (updated)
It's been a strange first two innings for Dan Haren tonight. With the exception of two pitches, Haren has been absolutely dominant thus far. He's struck out five through two innings, using all his pitches effectively. He struck out four Phillies in a row at one point, using a different pitch to put away each hitter. Haren got Freddy Galvis with a curveball, Michael Young with a cutter, Ryan Howard with a splitter and Michael Young with a four-seam fastball. But, those two...
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Nats' roster moves official, plus lineups

Nats' roster moves official, plus lineups
The Nationals have made it official, selecting the contract of infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse and designating right-hander Yunesky Maya for assignment. Yes, Kobernus' position was listed on the official team press release as "infielder/outfielder". The 2009 second-round pick is a career-long infielder, but he's seen action in the outfield in 28 games for Syracuse this season. In parts of five minor-league seasons (2009-2013), Kobernus batted .286 with 77...
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Plenty of missed opportunities for the home squad tonight (Nats jump on top)

Plenty of missed opportunities for the home squad tonight (Nats jump on top)
The Nationals have had no trouble getting runners on base against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who has issued three hits and four walks through the first four innings. The problem has been converting those baserunners into runs. It's a 2-1 Phillies lead here at Nats Park heading to the bottom of the fifth inning, despite the fact that Jordan Zimmermann has outpitched Kendrick, for the most part. The Nats put two runners in scoring position in the second inning, but both Kurt Suzuki...
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Lombardozzi playing second, Suzuki hitting sixth

Lombardozzi playing second, Suzuki hitting sixth
Steve Lombardozzi is playing second and hitting eighth for the Nationals today in their series opener against the Phillies, as Danny Espinosa gets a day off. Kurt Suzuki, who normally hits eighth for the Nats, has been bumped up to the No. 6 spot in the order, with the struggling Tyler Moore hitting seventh. The Nats will face right-hander Kyle Kendrick today, he of the 4-2 record and 2.82 ERA. Jordan Zimmermann gets the start for the Nats, looking to improve upon his 7-2 mark and 1.62 ERA...
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Nats welcome Phillies to town after a (successful) Night At The Park

Nats welcome Phillies to town after a (successful) Night At The Park
A little over 12 hours after touching down in D.C. following a lengthy 10-day road trip out west, the bulk of the Nationals' players and coaches made their way to Nationals Park last night, not for a game but to support their teammate and a great cause. Ryan Zimmerman's fourth annual "A Night At The Park" was held at Nats Park last night, with nearly 2,000 fans joining a number of D.C. sports celebrities to enjoy some music, food and a good time, all benefiting Zimmerman's ziMS...
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Detwiler's Team USA performance forecasts well for Nationals' rotation

Detwiler's Team USA performance forecasts well for Nationals' rotation
With left-hander Ross Detwiler throwing not one, but four scoreless innings this week for Team USA, you have to admire how far the 26-year-old has come in a year and a half, and how crucial his pitching is to the Nationals' rotation. Detwiler allowed just one hit in those four innings. Manager Joe Torre had enough confidence in the southpaw to go out and let him finish the ninth frame for the save. Detwiler has shown with international experience in the Taiwan series last year and now the...
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A few additional takeaways from yesterday's incident in Clearwater

A few additional takeaways from yesterday's incident in Clearwater
VIERA, Fla. - At one point late yesterday afternoon, after the Nationals-Phillies game had ended, interviews had been completed and reporters had all made our way back up to the press box to work on our postgame stories, I turned to another local writer and asked him if he had any idea what the final score of the game was. About five minutes later, one of the Phillies beat writers, sitting a row in front of me, turned to his left and asked another writer a similar question. "Who the hell won...
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Johnson, Moore, Manuel discuss Nationals-Phillies incident

Johnson, Moore, Manuel discuss Nationals-Phillies incident
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg hit Chase Utley on the left ankle. Roy Halladay threw behind Tyler Moore. Strasburg said he had no reason to hit Utley. Halladay said the pitch to Moore slipped. Then Halladay smiled. What was set up to be another quiet Grapefruit League game between the Phillies regulars and a Nationals lineup made up primarily of minor leaguers turned a bit more interesting in the third and fourth innings this afternoon. Strasburg and Halladay already shared their...
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Strasburg done, Halladay throws behind Moore (Rendon homers again)

Strasburg done, Halladay throws behind Moore (Rendon homers again)
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Davey Johnson tried to give Stephen Strasburg four full innings of work this afternoon, but after Strasburg gave up a two-out single and a walk in the fourth, "Captain Hook" came trotting out of the dugout to get his right-handed starter. Strasburg finishes his third spring outing having allowed two runs on five hits. He walked one, struck out six, hit a batter and threw one wild pitch in 3 2/3 innings. The Nationals' ace threw 67 pitches, 40 strikes this...
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Now in a Phillies uniform, Lannan holds no grudges against Nats

Now in a Phillies uniform, Lannan holds no grudges against Nats
CLEARWATER, Fla. - When Nationals manager Davey Johnson saw John Lannan in a Phillies uniform during warm-ups on the field at Bright House Field late this morning, he had a message for his former starter. "You look like (expletive) in that uniform," Johnson told Lannan. Lannan's response to reporters a little bit later, while chatting in the Phillies clubhouse: "He's gonna have to get used to that. He's gonna see me a couple times." After spending the first eight years of his major...
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Johnson closing in on an opening day starting lineup (with Nats, Phillies lineups)

Johnson closing in on an opening day starting lineup (with Nats, Phillies lineups)
CLEARWATER, Fla. - After using up about half a tank of gas on the trek across Florida, I've arrived at Bright House Field for today's Nationals-Phillies Grapefruit League contest that will feature two of the game's best pitchers. Stephen Strasburg and Roy Halladay will toe the mound today, and while Strasburg will face a Phillies lineup filled with major leaguers, Halladay won't get that luxury. The Nationals brought just three position players who are expected to crack the opening day...
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Things getting interesting in the NL East

Things getting interesting in the NL East
I'd imagine there aren't many baseball fans who would object to me saying that not much is being expected of the Miami Marlins or New York Mets this season. The Marlins, who downright stunk last year, traded away the vast majority of their established major leaguers, and while there is buzz around the league that the Mets could be major players for free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, they dealt Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey this offseason and are coming off a second half of the...
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Some surprising pitching news within the division

Some surprising pitching news within the division
Given we currently have a free agent market in which Anibal Sanchez, a pitcher coming off a nine-win, 3.86-ERA season, can land a five-year, $80 million deal, it's shocking that the Mets aren't willing to offer R.A. Dickey the two-year, $26 million extension he's seeking. Instead, the Mets are on the verge of dealing the Cy Young Award-winning knuckleballer to the Blue Jays, according to reports, for top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and other pieces. I guess this is the move you make...
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Phillies' catcher suspended, Nats' catcher healing

Phillies' catcher suspended, Nats' catcher healing
The Phillies had a rough 2012 season, but catcher Carlos Ruiz helped them fight through the tough patches, batting .325 and posting a .935 OPS, both career highs. He was arguably the Phillies' top position player over the course of the season. This upcoming year, the Phillies will be without Ruiz for nearly the first month of the season. Major League Baseball has announced that Ruiz has been suspended for 25 games for testing positive for amphetamines. The suspension means that Ruiz has...
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Experienced pitcher and leadoff hitter top Nats' wish list

Experienced pitcher and leadoff hitter top Nats' wish list
As the offseason kicks into high gear, the Nationals are a defending champion in an unusual position: They could stand pat and be picked to win the National League East for a second consecutive season in 2013. But that's not how the Nationals operate. They'll likely be looking for an experienced pitcher and a leadoff batter. The Nationals rotation will have Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler, but the fifth guy is up for debate. It could be Zack Greinke,...
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Rollins takes parting shot, plus Jackson, Morse notes

Rollins takes parting shot, plus Jackson, Morse notes
The Phillies wrapped up a .500 season today with a loss to the Nationals. The year didn't go as the Phils had expected, as they relinquished the NL East crown and failed to record a winning record for the first time in 10 years. But Jimmy Rollins feels his team would have prevented the Nats from winning their first division title in team history if key guys on the Phillies' roster (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, Placido Polanco) had spent less time on the...
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Riding a Teddy high, Nats crank up the offense (updated)

Riding a Teddy high, Nats crank up the offense (updated)
Yes, the losing streak is over. As my colleague Byron Kerr wrote, Teddy won the Presidents Race today. Print Byron's story out. Frame it. Tell the grandkids about this moment one day. The crowd got all riled up by Teddy's big victory, and apparently the players did, too. (Either that, or they just got better pitches to hit and put the barrel on them. One of the two.) The first three Nationals to come to the plate after Teddy's win - Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse and Tyler Moore - went...
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Nats lineup for Game 162

Nats lineup for Game 162
The bulk of the Nationals' regulars are back in the starting lineup, while the two that started yesterday - Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche - are taking a seat for today's regular season finale. The Nats have a magic number of one to clinch the top seed in the National League, giving them home-field advantage through the playoffs and setting them up to play the wild card play-in winner. If they win today against the Phillies or the Reds lose to the Cardinals tonight, the Nationals will get...
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How's this for a post-clinch Nats lineup?

How's this for a post-clinch Nats lineup?
Davey Johnson got hit with a champagne shower three times last night. After he got dried off from the first attack, Adam LaRoche ambushed Johnson and soaked him again. Johnson may not have loved it, but he took it in stride. "He got me good," Johnson said. Then, rookie reliever Christian Garcia, a guy battling for a spot on the postseason roster, was gutsy enough to soak his 69-year-old skipper yet again. "'Son, that's a no-no,' " Johnson recalled himself saying, chuckling as he...
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