December 22, 2014

Washington Nationals designate Maya for assignment, call up Kobernus

With Danny Espinosa out for at least a few days, and potentially much more, the Washington Nationals called up UTL Jeff Kobernus from AAA-Syracuse after Friday’s win over the Philadelphia Phillies. To make room on the 40-man roster, the team designated for assignment RHP Yunesky Maya, who pitched one-third of an inning in Tuesday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, serving up Pablo Sandoval’s massive two-run home run in the bottom of the tenth inning.

The right-handed hitting Kobernus, 25 in June, hit .333/.378/.420 in 193 plate appearances for Syracuse so far this season. He’s stolen 21 bases in 27 attempts this year. Last season for Harrisburg, Kobernus swiped 42 bases and 53 the previous year for Potomac in High-A.

Primarily a second baseman coming up through the system, Kobernus was a Rule 5 draft selection by the Detroit Tigers this past off-season and had him working in the outfield to take advantage of his natural speed. The Tigers decided to offer him back to the Nats, and they’ve kept up the experiment. He’s played 19 games for the Chiefs in left field, nine in center, 12 at second base and three games at third this season.

The Nats have decided for now that Steve Lombardozzi will get the bulk of the at bats while Espinosa tried to get the lingering soreness out of the break area in his right wrist, but Kobernus will give the team some flexibility to play second base and left field if needed.

Maya, 31, signed a four-year, $6 million contract in 2010, after he defected from Cuba and established residence in the Dominican Republic. The right-hander never lived up to the contract, floundering every time he’s been given a shot at the Major league level and only posting pedestrian numbers in AAA. In his big league career, Maya is 1-5 with a 5.80 ERA and 1.576 WHIP in 16 games (10 starts). Maya was 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA for Syracuse this season.

Washington Nationals Game 46 Review: Strasburg strong but bullpen collapses in 9th and 10th

The Washington Nationals received a strong start from their ace, but couldn’t tack on any insurance runs, blew a one-run save in the ninth, then blew the game in the tenth, as the resilient San Francisco Giants beat the Nats 4-2 in the tenth inning on the strength of a two-run homer by Pablo Sandoval, off just-recalled Yunesky Maya, that still might not have landed.

The Nats (23-23) got all their offense in the very first inning. Denard Span singled leading off the inning and Bryce Harper, hitting second for the first time this season, sacrificed Span to second. Ryan Zimmerman delivered with the runner in scoring position, ripping a double to center to score Span. After Adam LaRoche flew out to right, Ian Desmond came through, doubling to right field to plate Zimmerman.

Strasburg needed 31 pitches to get through the first inning, but he escaped unscathed, leaving the bases loaded. Strasburg was not as fortunate in the second inning. Gregor Blanco led off with a single to right field. After a fly out and sacrifice by Matt Cain, Angel Pagan singled to center, which scored Blanco from second base.

Strasburg gave up four hits and two walks in the first two innings, and the Nats looked to be in trouble, especially considering manager Davey Johnson was forced to use all three of his “long-men” in Monday night’s 8-0 loss to the Giants. But Strasburg settled down impressively after the second inning, and he cruised through the five next innings, facing just one batter over the minimum.

All told, Strasburg (2-5, 2.66) went seven innings and allowed one earned run on five hits and three walks, striking out seven. He threw 108 pitches, 62 of which were strikes.

The Nats missed several opportunities to extend their lead, but couldn’t come through in the clutch. They loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Kurt Suzuki grounded into a force and Strasburg struck out swinging on three pitches. In the eighth, they had first-and-third with one out, but LaRoche struck out and Desmond grounded to the pitcher to end the threat.

Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless eighth and handed things over to closer Rafael Soriano. Buster Poset led off with a comebacker, but Soriano couldn’t field it and was safe at first. Andres Torres pinch-ran for the catcher, and Soriano got the next two batters on fly balls. With two down, slap-hitting outfielder Gregor Blanco drove a ball to the right field wall. It looked like Harper might have had a play on the ball, but he tread gingerly as he approached the wall, no doubt still thinking about the collision he had in Los Angeles.

The ball carried over Harper’s head and off the wall in right. The run scored easily and Blanco ended up at third base with a game-tying triple. It was the third blown save of the season for Soriano, all coming on the road.

After the Nats went 1-2-3 in the top of the tenth, Davey Johnson called upon Yunesky Maya, just called up from Triple-A Syracuse (where he had a 5.07 ERA in eight starts) to pitch the tenth, instead of Drew Storen, presumably so Storen could be available for a save opportunity later. There would be no later, as Maya allowed a one-out single to Marco Scutaro, then grooved a batting practice fastball to Pablo Sandoval, who crushed it half-way up the large grandstand in center field to give the Giants their league-leading sixth walk-off win of the season.

THE GOOD: Once he got past the second inning, Strasburg was dominant. If they can ever figure out why he’s been struggling in the early innings…

THE BAD: Blame Soriano or Maya all you want — and they certainly deserve their share of the blame — but the Nats lost this one in the fifth and eighth innings, when twice they had a runner at third with one out and failed to score the run.

Honorable mention: the Nats offense is so bad lately, Bryce Harper felt compelled to sacrifice bunt…twice. Disgraceful.

THE UGLY: There’s no way to sugar coat this: Yunesky Maya does not have Major League caliber talent and has no business on a big league roster.

THE STATS: 5 hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. 2-for-8 with RISP, 6 LOB. No errors, 2 DPs.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 3:45 pm ET against the Giants to avoid the sweep. Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.01) faces Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 3.09).

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 trim spring roster to 33

With Opening Day just two weeks away, and manager Davey Johnson’s preference to play his starters heavily in the next-to-last week of Spring Training, the Washington Nationals sent out much of their Major League-ready backup talent to the minors before taking on the Detroit Tigers at Space Coast Stadium Monday morning.

The Nats today optioned right-handed pitchers Erik Davis, Yunesky Maya and Ryan Perry, catcher Jhonatan Solano, infielder Chris Marrero and outfielder Corey Brown to Syracuse of the Triple-A International League. Additionally, the Nationals re-assigned right-handed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf and infielder Zach Walters to minor league camp.

Along with sending these players down, the Nats also granted catcher Chris Snyder his unconditional release. Snyder had an opt-out in his contract and is expected to sign a contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Snyder move signals that the team is comfortable with Wilson Ramos to open the season on the active roster. Ramos missed much of last season with two surgeries to his knee.

Washington Nationals 2013 Season Preview: The Starters

by Dave Nichols and Alyssa Wolice

This week, District Sports Page will take a look at the players that should comprise the 2013 roster of the Washington Nationals. Following a record-setting season last year that saw the Nats finish first in the N.L. East and advance to the playoffs for the first time since the relocation, GM Mike Rizzo has tweaked the roster a bit and expectations have never been higher for the organization, which is expected to be a legitimate World Series contender this season.

Today, we evaluate the Nats’ candidates at starting pitcher. As they prepare to report for Spring Training, the Nats will look to lay the Strasburg Shutdown debate to rest once and for all in the months ahead. The team – which ranked first in ERA and third in strikeouts in the National League in 2012 — boasts a talented Top 5 that can match any on baseball, But injury — or suspension — could put them in a precarious position due to the lack of top-end options in the minor leagues. [Read more…]

NATS: Happy Birthday, Yunesky Maya

HAPPY 31st BIRTHDAY YUNESKY MAYA!

Washington Nationals RHP was born 8/26/1981 in Pinar del Rio, Cuba.

Yunesky Maya is currently pitching for the Syracuse Chiefs.

Yunesky Maya (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

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