February 2009

Jorge Sosa is still missing

The Nationals are entering their third game of the exhibition season and there is no sign of right-hander Jorge Sosa.

The Nationals were expecting him to be in camp by Wednesday, but he continues to have visa issues.

Last season, Sosa, 31, played for the Mets, Astros and Mariners organizations and only saw big-league time with the Mets. He went 4-1 with a 7.06 ERA with New York.

Nationals starting lineup

The Nationals play the Astros this afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET and here’s the starting lineup for the Nationals:
1. Cristian Guzman, SS
2. Lastings Milledge, CF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam Dunn, 1B
5. Elijah Dukes, RF
6. Josh Willingham, LF
7. Dmitri Young, DH
8. Ronnie Belliard, 2B
9. Jesus Flores, C
Right-hander Shawn Hill will get the start for the Nationals.  


It's official: Rijo is dismissed

Jose Rijo was told by Nationals general manager Jim Bowden on Thursday morning that he has been dismissed as Bowden’s special assistant. Rijo also said that nine others members of the Nationals were dismissed, but that was not confirmed by the team.

Rijo declined to say any more until he the team makes the official announcement.

Rijo has been linked to Carlos Alvarez David Lugo, who previously called himself Esmailyn Gonzalez. The shortstop, who received a $1.4 million signing bonus from the Nationals in 2006, allegedly falsified his name and age. In Washington’s 2008 media guide, Lugo is listed as being 19 years old, but he is four years older. Major League Baseball’s department of investigations is looking into the matter. Rijo continues to maintain that his innocence.  

Nationals release Odalis Perez

The Nationals have released left-hander Odalis Perez on Monday morning because of his failure to report to Spring Training.

On Feb. 5, Perez signed a Minor League deal with the Nationals. If he made the team, Perez would make 850,000, the same money he made last year. But when pitchers and catcher reported on Feb. 14, Perez was a no-show and hasn’t had any contact with the team since that date. Sunday was the mandatory reporting date and the Nationals had the right to discipline Perez after that day.

It turned out that Perez regretted giving his agent the OK to agree to terms with the Nationals because he wanted a Major League deal. But the Nationals had no intentions of renegotiating the contract.

“He would not return our phone calls and after talking internally with [manager] Manny Acta, [pitching coach] Randy St. Claire and the organization, we all feel it’s important that we want players that want to be here and help us win. We made that decision this morning,” general manager Jim Bowden said. “We left messages yesterday for his agent, we left messages for Odalis. Again I left messages for him this morning. They made their point pretty clear. We need to turn the page. We have a lot of pitchers in camp that are committed to helping us win. ”  

Martis will not play in World Baseball Classic

Nationals right-hander Shairon Martis has decided not to play in the World Baseball Classic, which starts on March 3. The news comes a day after teammate Roger Bernadina announced that he, too, would skip the Classic.

Martis is currently on the provisional roster and was expected to be a major player for the Netherlands.

Martis, 21, decided to stay in Nationals camp because he was told he has a good chance of making the 25-man roster.

“When I came to camp, they team told me I had a great chance to make the team, so that’s why I decided to stay with the team and see what happens,” Martis said.”Right now, [the Netherlands] don’t know that I’ve made this decision. When they find out, it’s going to be hard for them because they were counting on me. I want to play with them. I want to play in the Classic, but I better stay in Nationals camp.”

Zimmerman avoids arbitration

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year, $3.325 million early Friday morning.

Zimmerman’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for Friday afternoon. He was asking for $3.9 million, while Washington was countering with $2.75 million. 

Zimmerman is coming off an injury-riddled season, playing in only 106 games because of left shoulder and right hand injuries. He hit .283 with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs. 

Dmitri Young not talking to the media

First baseman Dmitri Young shook every reporters hand on Wednesday, but announced he would not talk to the media for the foreseeable future. A team spokesman said Young doesn’t want to say anything until he is on the 25-man roster or no longer on the team.

Last November, the Nationals outrighted Young to Triple-A Syracuse. Young elected not to test the free-agent market and stay with the team. Young is owed $5 million this season.

Jose Rijo talks about Esmailyn Gonzalez

Shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez, one of the best prospects in the Nationals organization, isn’t who he says he is.

According to SI.com, which cited four sources, Gonzalez is actually a 23-year-old named Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo. The Nationals list him as being 19 years old.

Jose Rijo, who is in camp as a Spring Training pitching instructor, said no one from SI.com tried to contact him. He read the report on a reporter’s BlackBerry. Rijo laughed and said that he knows the player as Esmailyn Gonzalez.

Rijo said he first saw Gonzalez a few year ago when the latter played in the Yankees’ Dominican academy. Rijo didn’t think there was anything suspicious about Gonzalez.

“I saw him for 2 1/2 years [before he signed with the Nationals],” Rijo said. “At that time, he wasn’t older. I don’t know what to believe anymore. I don’t want to say any more. I don’t want to jeopardize the investigation.” 

Asked how disappointed he would be if Gonzalez wasn’t who he said he was, Rijo said, “In the Dominican, you never know anymore. It has been going on for so long.”

Gonzalez is scheduled to report to the Nationals’ complex on March 13 and participate in the full squad workouts two days later. 

Nats' Willingham avoids arbitration

Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham avoided arbitration on Wednesday by agreeing to a one-year $2.95 million contract.

Willingham is expected to report to Spring Training on Thursday and battle for a spot in the outfield. 

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is expected to have his arbitration hearing on Friday. He is asking for $3.9 million, while Washington is countering with $2.75 million. 

Perez still a no-show

Nationals left-hander Odalis Perez missed the team’s second day of workouts because he is holding out for more money.

On Feb. 5, Perez agreed to terms on a Minor League deal with Washington. If he makes the 25-man roster, he would earn $850,000, the same money he earned last year.

Manager Manny Acta first heard about Perez’s unhappiness this weekend from a friend in the Dominican Republic. But Acta didn’t take the information seriously until Perez was a no-show for Monday’s workouts. Since then, Acta left a message for Perez, but it wasn’t returned.

“I can’t control everything he feels or thinks,” Acta said. “It’s out of my hands. It has been made public that he is under contract and we expect him to honor his contract.”

Several messages to Perez’s agent, Martin Arburua, were not returned.