August 29, 2015

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats roughed up by Mets

The New York Mets victimized two different Washington Nationals starters on Saturday, roughing up Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark for nine runs combined to beat the Nats 10-2 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Strasburg got through the first three innings unscathed, then ran into trouble in the fourth. With one out, No. 8 hitter Ruben Tejada doubled to left. Strasburg struck out opposite starter Jacob deGrom, but then walked Juan Legares. On a 1-2 count, Curtis Granderson clubbed a three-run shot to right, his third of the spring.

David Wright then followed with his fourth of March, an opposite-field homer to right.

Strasburg’s final line: four innings, four earned runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

The Mets got two in the sixth. Jerry Blevins allowed a one-out double to lefty Lucas Duda and Roark was summonsed. He promptly gave up a single to Michael Cuddyer, which plated Duda. Wilmer Flores followed with a double to bring in pinch-runner Cesar Puello.

Roark’s forgettable outing continued in the seventh. Minor leaguer Johnny Monell homered to lead off but Roark looked to right things by retiring the next two batters. Unfortrunately, Dan Uggla’s error on Daniel Muno’s grounder opened the floodgates.

Duda homered with Muno aboard on a 2-2 pitch, and after Puello reached on an infield single, Roark’s day was over. Matt Reynolds greeted reliever Rafael Martin with a double to center to complete the four-run frame.

Meanwhile, the Nats offense was limited to a very long, very loud Bryce Harper home run in the sixth, and Clint RObinson’s RBI single in the ninth.

NATS NOTES:

  • In the battle for the final spots on the roster, Uggla was 0 for 3 with the big error, Robinson was 2 for 4 with an RBI and Ian Stewart was hitless in three at bats. Tyler Moore, who is out of options, went 1 for 4 with a run.
  • Danny Espinosa played shortstop on the road trip and was 1 for 3.
  • After their outings, both Blevins and Roark are sporting ERAs over 9.00.
  • Ryan Zimmerman is scheduled to take a few days off after banging his left shoulder diving for a ball on Friday. Manager Matt Williams told reporters in Florida that no tests were needed “as of right now”.
  • Williams also announced the rest of the Nats season-opening rotation. Max Scherzer, as previously announced, will start opening day, followed by Jordan Zimmermann, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats split split-squad games; Strasburg to miss start

STEPHEN STRASBURG SPRAINS ANKLE IN CONDITIONING DRILLS, WILL MISS START

The Atlanta Braves scored three runs in the fourth inning and two more in the seventh, enough to beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 at the Disney Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Most of the Nats regulars stayed back in Viera to host the Marlins. Dan Uggla homered and Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run over five innings to lead the Nats to a 4-2 win.

After the home game, manager Matt Williams announced that Stephen Strasburg sprained his left ankle during conditioning drills and will miss his next scheduled start, against the Tigers. A.J. Cole will be brought over from the minor league side to replace him. Williams indicated the sprain was not serious and Strasburg was seen walking through the clubhouse without a noticeable limp.

In the home game, Uggla — in his continuing bid to win playing time at second base and resurrect his career — went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and upped his spring training average to .333.

Zimmermann gave up eight hits and struck out four during his mound work, but the interesting part of his day came in a verbal exchange with opposing pitcher Henderson Alvarez. Zimmermann was grazed on the elbow in an early at bat. Later, he went down and in to Alvarez when the Marlins starter was trying to sacrifice. The two exchanged words as Alvarez headed to the dugout.

There was no altercation and cooler heads prevailed.

In the road game, the Braves got to Evan Meek in the fourth for three earned runs on four hits and a walk, though Meek did strike out two. Taylor Jordan pitched three strong innings to start, allowing just one hit and one walk, striking out one. Blake Treinen and Casey Janssen both three perfect innings of relief.

The Nats scored twice in the third. Jordan led off with a single and went to second on a Michael Taylor (2 for 3, double) line drive single to left. A wild pitch by Eric Stultz moved both runners up and Kevin Frandsen’s ground out brought in Jordan. Taylor scored on Mike Carp’s single to left, but Carp was thrown out in a rundown.

NATS NOTES:

  • Craig Stammen, Rich Hill and Aaron Barrett all pitched scoreless innings of relief in the home game.
  • Wilson Ramos was 1 for 3 with a two-run single in the home game immediately before Uggla’s homer.
  • Bryce Harper (0 for 2, walk, run) and Tony Gwynn Jr (1 for 4) both had outfield assists.
  • Gwynn and Ian Desmond (1 for 3) both stole bases.
  • Tyler Moore was 0 for 3 in the road game and struck out twice.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Scherzer solid as Nats top Astros

Bryce Harper and Kila Ka’aihue homered and Max Scherzer allowed one run in five innings and the Washington Nationals knocked off the Houston Astros 7-5 in Kissimmee, Florida.

Scherzer gave up three hits in five innings, walked none and struck out six. The only run he allowed came on a solo home run by Astros catcher Jason Castro in the fourth inning.

The Nats exploded for four runs in the top of the first against starter Samuel Deduno. Danny Espinosa doubled to right to plate Tony Gwynn Jr. Tyler Moore brought Espinosa home with a single to left. After Deduno loaded the bases, he walked Jose Lobaton to force in a run, and Kevin Frandsen’s sacrifice fly made it 4-0 before most fans were in their seats.

Harper’s long homer came in the fourth off Jake Buchanan and Ka’aihue’s third spring homer was in the seventh off Asher Wojciechowski.

Ka’aihue added an RBI double in the ninth off Kevin Chapman.

NATS NOTES:

  • Jerry Blevins was perfect in one inning of relief with a  strikeout. Manny Delcarmen pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one walk with a strikeout.
  • Xavier Cedeno was not as fortunate. The lefty gave up two runs on two hits, including a homer by Luis Valbuena, in one inning. Heath Bell allowed two runs on two hits and a walk without retiring a batter.
  • Sandy Leon was 2 for 2 in relief of Lobaton.
  • Tyler Moore was 2 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI.
  • Before the game, manager Matt Williams indicated doubt that OF Nate McLouth (shoulder) would be ready for opening day. “Right now, it’s probably in jeopardy because we haven’t been able to get him out there for a number of at-bats and get through a full spring, keeping in mind that he’s coming off of a pretty serious surgery,” said Williams.

Washington Nationals Spring Training Preview: The Infielders

This week, District Sports Page will review the players currently on the Washington Nationals 40-man roster and their potential contributions to the Major League roster this season.

Monday: Catchers
Tuesday: Infielders
Wednesday: Outfielders
Thursday: Starters
Friday: Bullpen

FIRST BASE

Ryan Zimmerman
2014: 240 PAs, .280/.342/.449 with 5 HRs, 184 RBIs (0.4 WAR). .948 FD% at 3B.

We’ve seen this coming for several season. With the expiration of Adam LaRoche’s tenure with the club, the Face of the Franchise ™ moves across the diamond to first base on a permanent basis. Some would say ‘about time.’ Now 30, Zimmerman’s throwing problems at third base were well-documented and his time in the outfield last season can be described as non-harmful at best. He made some plays, but the spectacular nature of some only outlined his lack of mobility for the wide open pastures of left field. It’s a shame, really, because before he injured his shoulder diving head-first into second base he really was one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. His bat will play at first, especially if he can get 500 plate appearances, but we’re all left wondering where he could have ranked on the all-time third base list if he could have stayed there.

Tyler Moore
2014: 100 PAs, .231/.300.385 with 4 HRs, 14 RBIs (0.4 WAR). .948 FD% at 1B.

Ah, Tyler Moore. Some saw his power numbers in the minors and salivated. Sure, he was old at every level and didn’t really have a position, but he kept hitting home runs — 31 two years running in Potomac and Harrisburg. Surely, the skill would translate as he ascended into the big leagues! Well, maybe, maybe not. Moore still has power, but more (Moore) often than not flails away at the better pitching in the big leagues. It’s a story told time and again about thick-bodied minor league sluggers without a natural position on the diamond (cough Steven Souza cough). Moore has hit 10 homers in both of the past two seasons at Syracuse and now represents little more than a bat off the bench and emergency starter. If Zimmerman can’t give them 500 plate appearances, the team could be in a little trouble.

SECOND BASE

Yunel Escobar
2014: 529 PAs, .258/.324/.340 with 7 HRs, 39 RBIs (-0.2 WAR) with TBY. .965 FD% at SS.

The Nats traded older prospect Steven Souza Jr Tyler Clippard for the much-traveled shortstop with the hopes of plugging him into the abyss at second base. Escobar was one of the worst fielding shortstops in all of baseball last season by any metric you’d like to use, so the move to second base should help him recover some value. GM Mike Rizzo said Escobar battled back and hamstring issues all season long which affected his fielding. While hamstrings heal, back issues are usually chronic in nature. All that aside, his bat is pretty meh, especially for a guy that stays in the lineup every day, apparently whether he’s healthy or injured. His last good year was in 2011 when he hit .290/.369/.413. But his average has been .253, .256, .258 in the three years since. It’s a shame Rizzo felt like he had to give up a prospect of value for this skill set.

Danny Espinosa
2014: 364 PAs, .219/.283/.351 with 8 HRs, 27 RBIs, 8 SB/1 CS (0.0 WAR). .990 FD% at 2B, .978 at SS.

The reason Rizzo felt like he had to trade for Escobar. Espinosa once tantalized with 20-20 capability with Gold Glove caliber defense. But after playing through shoulder and hand injuries, plus complete ineffectiveness from the left side, Espinosa is left trying to resurrect his career as a backup middle infielder. There’s a shred of hope that within his split against lefties last season (.301/.374/.485) there’s a serviceable right-handed hitter in there, as Rizzo said in the offseason Espinosa would abandon switch-hitting. But Espinosa hasn’t seen a breaking ball go away from him from a right-handed pitcher in 15 years, so it’ll be a fascinating transition should be become proficient at it. His defense is still very good at second and short, and at least we know he can still hit lefties, so there’s utility in that.

Wilmer Difo
2014 Low-A: 610 PAs, .315/.360/.470 with 14 HRs, 90 RBIs, 49 SB/9 CS.

Difo tore up the Sally last season at age 22 for Hagerstown. It came as a shock, since he’d hit a combined five home runs in his previous four minor league seasons and had hit above .265 once. He can run and is a decent fielder but has played all over the infield, so the Nats aren’t really sure where he’ll end up playing. Second base will probably be where he settles though, but he split duties just about down the middle between there and short last season. Difo’s eye-popping numbers from last year put him on the radar, now he’ll have to live up to his newly-minted “prospect” status. Double-A has a way of separating guys that had a good year in the Sally (a year old for the level) from true prospects.

THIRD BASE

Anthony Rendon
2014: 683 PAs, .287/.351/.473 with 21 HRs, 83 RBIs, 17 SB/3 CS (6.5 WAR). .958 FD% at 3B.

It’s hard to articulate how good a season Rendon had in 2014, and where his offensive game could still go. He was fifth in the N.L. in MVP balloting as a 24-year-old and won the Silver Slugger at third. He is, simply, one of the best offensive players in the league and a fine defender at two positions as well. The Nats have elected to keep him at third base, his natural position, choosing to acquire Yunel Escobar to play second base full-time. And oh yeah, still a couple of years yet before he hits “peak.”

SHORTSTOP

Ian Desmond
2014: 648 PAs, .255/.313/.430 with 24 HRs, 91 RBIs, 24 SB/5 CS (2.8 WAR). .963 FD% at SS.

Desmond turned in another 20-20 season, his third in a row and third consecutive Silver Slugger. The production isn’t the concern with Desmond, who’s turned himself into one of the most consistent offensive performers at shortstop in the Majors. The defense isn’t the problem either — though he made a few more errors last season, he makes up for that in range and arm. With Desmond, you know what you’re gonna get on the field. As everyone knows by now, though, he’s a free agent at the end of the season, was subject of trade rumors all winter long, and will probably test the open market once the season concludes. The Nats even took precaution against Desmond leaving by trading for not just one shortstop prospect, but two, over the winter. I’d say the Nats are preparing for the likelihood of Desmond playing elsewhere next season.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Pitchers and catchers report

For baseball fans all around the country, it’s time for those four words that — despite how much snow they might be under — signal spring is just around the corner.

Pitcher and catchers report.

For the Washington Nationals, reporting day for the players that will make up the battery is Thursday. With all the excitement of the offseason signing of Max Scherzer, Nats fans will finally see him in a uniform, albeit in snips and clips, throwing bullpen sessions and glad-handing with the privileged media members enjoying the warmer weather from Viera, Florida while most of us are still digging out from under snow.

There’s plenty of excitement to go around, though. Scherzer is just one of many aces the Nats have in the starting rotation. It’s been the common theme around baseball hot stove this winter: the Nats rotation is the best in baseball, and could be historically great. At the onset, they’ll have to banish 15-game winner Tanner Roark to long relief.

It’s a glut of riches.

Still, it guarantees nothing. Baseball is a notoriously funny game, and just when you think you have it figured out, it changes the rules on you again.

I usually take a more measured approach to my analysis. I like to have stats and figures to back up my opinions and viewpoints. It’s easier to defend a position armed with the proper ammunition.

But reporting day, and opening day mere weeks behind it now, is more for the romantic side of baseball fandom. These days mark significant milestones to the long winter fans must endure without their pastime. If that’s not a time for waxing poetic, I’m not sure what it.

So for now, I won’t bog you down in numbers or analysis. I won’t issue my standard caveats about regression, small sample sizes or hidden injuries. I will not purvey gloom and doom on one of the simple pleasures of being a baseball fan. There’s plenty of time for that during the long, hot summer.

For today is reporting day. And spring is right around the corner.

Washington Nationals laundry list short for spring training

As the Washington Nationals expect pitchers and catchers to report next week, this season — as opposed to years in the past — the Nats have relatively little to figure out with regards to the big league roster.

The team is celebrating its 10th anniversary in D.C. (in its 11th season), and there have been multiple years in the past where they’ve held open tryouts for the starting rotation and batting order, let alone bullpen and bench help.

Shoot, they signed 2008 opening day starter Odalis Perez on Feb. 23 that season, after pitchers reported in Viera.

Things have come a long way. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals announce 2015 Spring Training broadcast schedule

From the press release:

Washington Nationals ANNOUNCE 2015 SPRING TRAINING BROADCAST SCHEDULE 

Washington Nationals broadcast partners Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) and 106.7 The Fan will broadcast a total of 14 Nationals Spring Training matchups throughout the weeks leading up to the start of the 2015 regular season. The Nationals 2015 Grapefruit League schedule features seven games televised by MASN and a combined 10 games airing on 106.7 The Fan and partner station CBS Sports Radio 1580 AM. 106.7 The Fan will also offer regular reports from Florida throughout Nationals Spring Training.

NATIONALS 2015 SPRING TRAINING BROADCAST SCHEDULE*

Date Opponent Time Location Broadcast
3/7 STL 1:05 p.m. VIERA, FL MASN / 1580AM
3/8 @ NYY 1:05 p.m. Tampa, FL 106.7 The Fan
3/9 ATL 1:05 p.m. VIERA, FL MASN
3/10 @ MIA 1:05 p.m. Jupiter, FL 1580AM
3/11 DET 1:05 p.m. VIERA, FL MASN
3/16 HOU 1:05 p.m. VIERA, FL MASN
3/19 DET 1:05 p.m. VIERA, FL 1580 AM
3/21 MIA 1:05 p.m. VIERA, FL 1580AM
3/22 @ DET 1:05 p.m. Lakeland, FL 1580AM
3/23 NYY 1:05 p.m. VIERA, FL MASN / 1580AM
3/25 @STL 1:05 p.m. Jupiter, FL 1580AM
3/26 NYM 5:05 p.m. VIERA, FL MASN
3/27 STL 1:05 p.m. VIERA, FL 1580AM
4/4 NYY 1:05 p.m. WASHINGTON, DC MASN/  106.7 The Fan

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats drop a pair in split-squad games with Braves and Astros

The Washington Nationals had a split-squad day on Wednesday, with half the team travelling to Lake Buena Vista to face the Braves and the rest in Kissimmee taking on the Astros. Unfortunately, the results were similar, as both home teams scored in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Nats.

The group in Disney fell to Atlanta 3-2. Veteran starter Chris Young, trying to resurrect his career, allowed tow earned runs on three hits and a walk, striking out three. He gave up a two-out, two-run homer to Freddie Freeman in the first inning.

The Braves got the winning run in the ninth inning off minor league closer Robert Benincasa. Joe Leonard singles to start the inning, then pinch-runner Jose Peraza stole second and scored on a single by Elmer Reyes.

Denard Span went 2-for-3 with a triple, raising his spring average to .429.

In Kissimmee, the Astros got to lefty Xavier Cedeno for three runs on four hits in the ninth to send the Nats to a 10-9 loss. Cedeno struck out leadoff hitter Gregorio Petit and Jesus Guzman ground out. But Rene Garcia singled to right and Adron Chambers ran for him. Cedeno uncorked a wild pitch, sending Chambers to second. He scored on a Delino DeShields single. Marwin González followed with a double, plating DeShields. Gonzalez scored the winning run on a George Spring single.

Tanner Roark, battling for the fifth spot in the rotation, started. He allowed three runs on three hits and two walks, striking out three, in 3.1 IP. He gave up Jason Castro’s two-run homer in the third inning. Craig Stammen allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in two innings, striking out four.

Will Rhymes went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, Nate McLouth homered and Mike Fontenot drove in three and scored twice.

 

 

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats dump Cards 11-1

Stephen Strasburg gave up one run on two hits and two walks in three innings, but the Nats offense pounded out 11 runs on 15 hits as the Washington Nationals dumped the St. Louis Cardinals 11-1 at Space Coast Stadium in Viera on Sunday.

Strasburg wasn’t the sharpest in his second appearance, as he walked the first two batters he faced and did not record a strikeout. He did generate five ground ball outs and induced two double plays.

The rest of the pitchers that followed were near perfect. Matt Purke, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen, Christian Garcia and Luis Ayala combined for six innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit and no walks, striking out four — three by Garcia in his inning of work.

To be fair, the Cardinals brought very few major league players for the road trip up U.S. 95.

Anthony Rendon led off and went 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs and an RBI. Wilson Ramos — hitting .563 this spring — went 2-for-3 with a run and 3 RBIs and Koyie Hill drove in two. Tyler Moore added a pair of hits in two trips.

The Nats host the Houston Astros at 6:05 on Monday.

 

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats comeback late but lose to Braves 3-2

Jordan Zimmermann made his second scoreless appearance of the Grapefruit League season, and the Washington Nationals were tied with the Atlanta Braves at 2 entering the bottom of the ninth, but the Braves pushed a run across against Danny Rosenbaum and the Nats fell 3-2 in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Braeden Schlehuber singled with pinch-runner Joey Terdoslavich on third base with two outs to give the Braves the win. Terdoslavich entered the game after Ernesto Mejia walked. He took second on an error by Mike Fontenot and went to third on a wild pitch by Rosenbaum.

None of which should take away from Zimmermann’s sterling three-inning stint. The 2013 All-Star gave up two hits and a walk, striking out four. He faced 12 batters and got four ground outs and one fly out.

Ross Ohlendorf gave up three hits and a walk, leading to two earned runs, without retiring a batter.

Anthony Rendon went 2-for-3 leading off, and Will Rhymes went 2-for-3 as well. Catcher Chris Snyder homered in the ninth inning to tie the game up for a short time.

The Nats struck out 12 times against seven Atlanta pitchers, including four by starter Julio Teheran.

Washington hosts the Houston Astros at 1:05 pm on Friday from Space Coast Stadium in Viera.

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