August 29, 2015

Washington Nationals Opening Day Photos

Please enjoy these photos of the Washington Nationals Opening Day festivities.

Washington Nationals Opening Day Review: Scherzer strong, defense does Nats in

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Clear, azure blue skies. Temperatures in the low 70s. A full house at Nats Park, home of the 2018 All-Star Game. A 4:05 pm start, free from rush hour traffic both getting to and returning home from the park. One could not have asked for a better day for baseball in April.

Unfortunately, the home team couldn’t comply. Ian Desmond made two errors, which both contributed to unearned runs against starter Max Scherzer, and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 before 42,295 at Nats Park.

Scherzer came as advertised, not allowing a hit until Lucas Duda’s RBI single in the sixth inning, and he finished with eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Opening Day: Optimism abounds, but injury concerns lurk

The Washington Nationals are almost every single publications odds-on favorite not only to represent the National League in the World Series, but win the whole dang thing, and with good reason. The starting rotation could perform at historic levels, the batting order was third in the N.L. in runs scored last season, and the bullpen is deep and talented, though perhaps not as deep as the past season or two.

In fact, the only thing that could derail the Nats from what seems to be their destiny this season has already reared its ugly head: injuries.

Look, I know opening day is a time for unbridled optimism. And there’s a lot of cause for that in the Nation’s Capital. And by Memorial Day, this discussion could very well be a moot point.

But with the injury track record of some of these guys, in very well may not.

The best news is that there haven’t been any concerns thus far with the starters. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister all seem to be 100 percent and ready to carry this team to predicted great heights. The Nats are in an enviable position of carrying 15-game winner Tanner Roark in the bullpen.

But there are plenty of other concerns, any single of which could slow the Nats significantly on the way to the playoffs.

Denard Span, who is the catalyst of the offense, had abdominal surgery and while he’s started running and playing in the field for a few innings at a time, is still a couple of weeks off from being able to play on a regular basis, and at that, could feel the lingering effects of a core surgery for months.

Jayson Werth, he of off-season shoulder surgery (as well as a short jail stint for going 105 in a 55), just started swinging a bat and while he thinks he could be ready by the end of the week, it could very well take until the All-Star break before full power returns to his shoulder.

Nate McLouth is apparently still so far from returning the Nats traded Jerry Blevins to fill his spot with Matt den Dekker.

Set-up guy Casey Janssen, brought in for the departed Tyler Clippard, is shelved for an undetermined period with shoulder tendinitis and, with his history of shoulder trouble, it could be quite some time before he throws his first pitch in a Nats uniform.

The most worrisome injury, though, is to third baseman Anthony Rendon’s knee.

Injured during spring training, Rendon was supposed to miss a day or two with soreness in his left knee. “Day-to-day” became indeterminate, then officially “week-to-week” after a third opinion recommended no surgery for the burgeoning superstar.

We still have no real time frame for Rendon’s return, and with he, Span and Werth all out of the lineup, the Nats — projected for 90-plus wins, a division and league title — are without their 1-2-3 guys in the lineup to start the season, most likely for the better part of a full month.

Then, we have to consider Ryan Zimmerman, and his penchant for injury. He’s missed significant time each of the past four seasons due to injury. In spring training, he hanged up a shoulder diving for a ball at first base. He’s tried to wean himself from sliding into bases head-first, but it’s also hard to break old habits and change an aggressive nature.

Speaking of aggressive natures, wither Bryce Harper? Here’s a guy that figuratively exploded during the bright stage of the NLDS last year, with three homers in the series. Though he enters his fourth full season in the bigs, has yet to play more than 139 games in any due to accumulation of injury.

Not to mention Yunel Escobar’s history of back trouble, and playing through it, or Wilson Ramos’ inability to play though a full season at this point in his career.

What does that do to projections? Does that turn a 94-win team into a 90-win team? 88 wins? Battling for a wild card? Hard to tell.

This Nats team could be special. All things considered, a perfectly healthy Nationals team should be favored to win the National League. With the Phillies and Braves projected to be the two worst teams on the circuit, a division title at least should be a lock.

But all the injuries early are a cause for concern for the Nats on their way to coronation.

Nats second opening day comes with added enthusiasm

The Washington Nationals play the Atlanta Braves in the first of a three-game series Friday at 1:10 pm. Sounds clinical when it’s put in those terms. That could describe any series opening game at any point in the season.

But this series opener is also the home opener on the schedule — the first of 81 games in the regular season for the Nats to play with a homefield advantage. It’s also the first time for many in attendance — yours truly included — to see the Nats for the first time in person this calendar year. Unless you were fortunate enough to make a pilgrimage to Viera for Spring Training, or shuffled up to New York to see the Mets series, you’re in the same boat.

This game would have been special — for fans, the players, the organization, the city — regardless of circumstances. But it comes on the heels of a three-game sweep of the division rival Mets. Most opening days come with as much uncertainty as excitement. But Friday’s home opener comes with added enthusiasm. We’ve already seen a lot of what the Nats could be this season in just three games

We’ve already seen Stephen Strasburg recover from a shaky start to strike out 10 in six innings. We’ve seen Gio Gonzalez dominate an undermanned Mets team — and smack a home run to boot.

Ryan Zimmerman’s second inning blast Thursday reminds us of just how important a player he is for the team, just as his throwing error Wednesday reminds us that his defense isn’t what it used to be, and may never be again.

Tanner Roark showed more of the promise in Thursday’s emergency start that he gave a glimpse of at the end of last season. Denard Span, Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa all had a promising opening series after last season’s disappointments. And Jayson Werth kept on hitting.

What we haven’t seen yet is Bryce Harper bust out with any noise yet. Manager Matt Williams indicated in his pregame press conference that Harper’s swing was a “tick off” so far. Asked to elaborate, Williams declined, saying he was not at liberty to talk about it. Cause for concern? Maybe, but worry? Not yet.

The Nats have won coming from behind late. They’ve dominated a game. And they’ve grinded a win out for a late-blooming prospect. We’ve seen a lot so far in just three games, and that makes the home opener that much more exciting for the home fans. This is a season of big possibilities. It’ll take six months to play out.

But we’ve already seen a lot.

Happy Opening Day everyone.

NATS/CHIEFS: Syracuse Chiefs Opening Day Roster, April 4

Today, April 4 is the opening day for the Syracuse Chiefs, Washington Nationals Triple-A Affiliate.

Syracuse Chiefs Press Release HeaderCHIEFS ANNOUNCE PRELIMINARY 2013 OPENING DAY ROSTER
12 players from last year’s team to return

Syracuse, NY—The Syracuse Chiefs, Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, are pleased to announce their preliminary roster for the 2013 season. Syracuse, led by second-year manager Tony Beasley, will begin its season on Thursday, April 4, at 7:05 at Lehigh Valley, with its home opener on Friday, April 12 at 2:05 vs. the IronPigs.

Syracuse’s active Opening Day roster features 16 former major leaguers and seven players on the Nationals’ 40-man roster. The Chiefs also return 12 players from last year’s Syracuse squad and 15 former Chiefs in total.

The Chiefs’ opening day staff will consist of 13 pitchers, five of whom spent time in Syracuse last season. Yunesky Maya (11-10, 3.88 ERA in 28 starts with the Chiefs in 2012), Tanner Roark (6-17, 4.39 ERA in 26 starts) and Ryan Perry (1-1, 4.50 ERA in 11 relief appearances) are slated to hold three of the spots in Syracuse’s rotation. Maya returns for his fourth season with Syracuse, with Roark and Perry as second-year Chiefs.

The other two spots in Syracuse’s season-opening rotation will be held by right-hander Ross Ohlendorf and left-hander Danny Rosenbaum. Ohlendorf, a veteran of 108 major league games with the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres, is in his first year with the Nationals’ organization. Rosenbaum, recently returned from Colorado after being selected in the 2012 Rule V draft, will begin his fifth professional season in the Nationals’ organization. He sported a 3.94 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg in 26 starts last season.

The bullpen will feature returning right-handers Erik Davis and Jeff Mandel, with Mandel also entering fourth Syracuse season and Davis his second. Right-hander Ryan Tatusko also rejoins the team for the second time after spending the entire 2012 season in Harrisburg, where he sported a 3.50 ERA.

Two other former Chiefs join the bullpen – left-hander J.C. Romero and right-hander Jeremy Accardo. Romero, a veteran of 680 major-league games, pitched in five games for the Chiefs in 2011. Accardo, who’s pitched 262 games in the majors, tossed five games for the Chiefs in 2008, the final year of Syracuse’s affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The remaining three spots in the bullpen are filled out by two former major leaguers – left-hander Fernando Abad (Houston) and right-hander Mike Crotta (Pittsburgh) – and left-hander Patrick McCoy, who finished 7-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 50 games for Double-A Harrisburg last season.

Offensively, both Chiefs catchers return from last year’s squad. Jhonatan Solano rejoins Syracuse for the fourth time after a season in which he made his major league debut (.312 batting average in 12 games with Washington), while veteran Carlos Maldonado also returns to Syracuse for the fourth time. The two have combined to play in 306 career games with Syracuse.

Syracuse’s infield is split between three returning Chiefs and three newcomers. First baseman Chris Marrero, shortstop Zach Walters, and third baseman Carlos Rivero – a postseason International League All-Star last season – will rejoin the Chiefs after spending time in Washington’s major league camp this spring. Infielder Jeff Kobernus, who led stole 42 bases for Double-A Harrisburg to lead the 2012 Eastern League, will join them for his Triple-A debut. Former major leaguers Mike Costanzo (Cincinnati) and Will Rhymes (Detroit, Tampa Bay) round out the six-man group.

In the outfield, postseason International League All-Star Corey Brown will return to Syracuse for the third time. Brown led all Chiefs players in 2012 with 25 home runs and also appeared in 19 major league games for Washington. He’ll be joined by 22-year-old Eury Perez, the youngest Chief on the Opening Day roster. Converted pitcher Micah Owings, who’s appeared in 174 major league games, and former Canadian Olympic outfielder Jimmy Van Ostrand will both join the Chiefs for the first time.

Tickets for all Syracuse Chiefs home games are on sale now and can be purchased online at SyracuseChiefs.com, by calling 315-474-7833, or in person at the Chiefs ticket office. Full- and partial-season ticket plans are also available through each of the same three methods.

Washington Nationals Game 1 Review: Harper, Strasburg lead Nats to Opening Day win

After all the pomp and circumstance, player introductions, color guard and National Anthem, announcement of last season’s award winners and ceremonial first pitch, there was actual baseball. And it was good.

Led by twin phenoms Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals beat their division rival and personal nemesis Miami Marlins 2-0 before a single-game, regular season record crowd of 45,274 at Nationals Park.

Not that the sellout crowd needed anything else to get them going after the rousing pre-game activities — including revealing a “NL East Division Champions” sign above the HD scoreboard — but the Nats  extended the feel-good vibe by jumping out quickly, thanks to who else but Bryce Harper, who lined a 1-0 curveball from Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco into the seats in right field in his first at bat in the bottom of the first inning to give the Nats an early 1-0 lead.

Almost unbelievably, Harper struck again in the fourth. Working the count full, he finally measured Nolasco again and deposited at 3-2 slider into the same section as his first one, extending the Nats lead to 2-0.

The rest was Stephen Strasburg. The Nats ace had as easy a seven inning, 80-pitch appearance as one could have. He allowed a single to Marlins leadoff hitter Juan Pierre to start the game, then set down 19 in a row before allowing a one-out double to Giancarlo Stanton in the seventh. Placido Polanco followed that with a single to move Stanton over to Strasburg in a little hot water for the only time all day.

Strasburg got rookie catcher Rob Brantly to fly out to left field for the second out. Stanton bluffed off third while Harper fired a strike to Wilson Ramos at home on the fly. Polanco broke from first to try to draw a throw and got caught in a rundown. Stanton then broke for the plate and the Nats nabbed the burly slugger easily at home. The play went 7-2-3-4-2 to erase the Marlins only scoring chance against Strasburg all day.

Strasburg’s day was as efficient as it was dominating. He threw 80 pitches in seven innings, with 52 for strikes. He allowed just three hits — and no walks — striking out three. He got 10 ground ball outs and five fly outs in earning his — and his team’s — first win of the season.

 Tyler Clippard, as he has done the last two seasons, pitched a scoreless eighth inning and new closer Rafael Soriano blew away the Marlins 1-2-3 hitters in the ninth to save his first game as a member of the Washington Nationals, including punching out Stanton to end the game.

The Nats are off on Tuesday as is customary at the beginning of the season. They’ll face these Marlins again Wednesday, with Gio Gonzalez set to face Kevin Slowey at 7:05 at Nats Park.

NATS: Washington Nationals 2013 Opening Day Festivities

The 2012 NL East Champion Washington Nationals will celebrate Opening Day and the start of the 2013 season at Nationals Park on Monday, April 1 when the team hosts the Miami Marlins at 1:05 p.m.

All gates will open at 10:30 a.m. to allow fans more time to enjoy Opening Day festivities and help reduce the risk of long lines at each entrance. Note: Parking will be limited on streets due to weekday afternoon game.

Nats Opening Day Giveaway Hat for First 20,000 Fans - Presented By GEICO

Nats Opening Day Giveaway Hat for First 20,000 Fans – Presented By GEICO

[Read more…]

PHOTOS: Washington Nationals Home Opener

The Washington Nationals hosted the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, April 12 for their home opener of the 2012 season. The gates opened early and fans poured into Nationals Park to watch batting practice, visit with old friends and try out new food.

New to the Nats and the National League, Gio Gonzalez impressed fans with his first outing at Nats Park. Gonzalez was the player of the game pitching seven innings with seven strikeouts, no runs, no walks and only two hits allowed. Gio also got his first ever MLB hit and couldn’t stop smiling. It was a fun moment to witness. Despite his quality start, Gonzalez didn’t end up with the win, due to the blown save by Brad Lidge in the ninth inning when the Reds tied it up at two.

The Nats came back to win in the tenth inning with a walkoff wild pitch. Nothing like a little drama to get the heart racing. You can read the full game re-cap here.

Here is a small sampling of our photos from Opening Day 2012. Enjoy. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 7 Review: Walk-off wild pitch sends home opener crowd happy

Nationals enjoy walkoff wild pitch in 3-2 home opener (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

With the Washington Nationals nursing a 2-0 lead late in the game, a small — but steady and noticable — amount of fans were making their way down Half Street toward the Metro, hoping to miss out on some of the Opening Day (and rush hour) congestion leaving the stadium.

They missed quite an ending. [Read more…]

NATS: Washington Nationals Opening Day Festivities

The Washington Nationals will celebrate Opening Day and the start of the 2012 season at Nationals Park on Thursday, April 12 when the team hosts the Cincinnati Reds at 1:05 p.m.

All gates will open at 10:30 a.m. to allow fans more time to enjoy Opening Day festivities and help reduce the risk of long lines at each entrance. Note: Parking will be limited on streets due to weekday afternoon game.

Nats Opening Day Giveaway Hat for First 20,000 Fans - Presented By GEICO

[Read more…]

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