March 2009

Glover goes to Minor League camp; Pena released

The Nationals re-assigned right-hander Gary Glover to Minor League camp and gave outfielder Wily Mo Pena his unconditional release after he refused his assignment to the Minor Leagues.

Glover was a candidate for a bullpen spot, but he gave up seven runs in eight innings. Pena was placed on waivers on Saturday. Opposing teams had three days to claim him and pick up his $2 million salary, but nobody did. Pena then asked for his release and became a free agent.

The Nationals currently have 34 active players in their big league camp.


Craig Stammen has nice outing

Right-hander Craig Stammen pitched in his first exhibition game for the Nationals on Tuesday and had a solid outing, giving up one run in four innings in a 7-2 victory against the Tigers.

Stammen, who started because the Nationals wanted to lineup right-handers Shairon Martis and Jordan Zimmermann on their regular days in the rotation, retired the first nine batters he faced, but gave up a run in the fourth inning — an RBI groundout by Curtis Granderson.

Manager Manny Acta was impressed with Stammen’s performance and said the rookie looked better than some of the pitchers who were in camp this spring.

“He has a lot of fans in our Minor League system,” Acta said about Stammen. “There are guys who make it to the big leagues [by sneaking] by people. They get unnoticed a little bit. They have to earn their way at every level that they are at. They may not be labeled as big-time prospects, but they continue to put up numbers and pitch well.

“He looks like a guy we might need in the future. At least he throws the ball over the plate and has three pitches.”

In other news, second baseman Anderson Hernandez is going to take groundballs on Wednesday and the team will determine that day if he will be placed on the disabled list.

“It’s going to be the turning point on whether he is going to be ready for Opening Day or not,” Acta said.  

Hernandez strained his left hamstring running to first base in the sixth inning against the Braves last Wednesday. About two minutes later, he had to be helped off the field. Acta said the injury could have been more serious if Hernandez continued to use the leg after feeling the initial pain, but the second baseman was seen hopping on his right leg.

Right-hander Daniel Cabrera had an excellent bullpen session on Tuesday and will pitch against the Orioles on Friday. He missed his last start against the Marlins on Sunday because of neck spasms.

Acta indicated that the final cuts most likely will be made in Washington D.C. on April 4.  

Ryan Wagner sent to Minor League camp

After Monday’s game against the Tigers, the Nationals reassigned right-hander Ryan Wagner to Minor League camp. 

Wagner, who recovered from right shoulder surgery, was a long shot to make the team as a reliever. He played in six games, posting a 5.14 ERA. However, after March 5, Wagner didn’t allow a run in his next five innings.

Wagner, 26, was not available for comment. The Nationals’ spring roster is now at  36.

Out of options

Here are Nationals players who are out of Minor League options and still battling for a roster spot:
Kory Casto
Mike Hinckley
Steven Shell
All three players are on the 40-man roster


Nationals' starting lineup against Tigers

Nick Johnson — DH
Cristian Guzman — SS
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Adam Dunn — 1B
Elijah Dukes — CF
Josh Willingham — LF
Austin Kearns  — RF
Jesus Flores — C
Willie Harris — 2B

Right-hander Shairon Martis will get the start for the Nationals 

Nationals starting lineup against Marlins

Lastings Milledge — CF
Cristian Guzman — SS
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Adam Dunn — LF
Josh Willingham — RF
Austin Kearns — LF
Ronnie Belliard — 2B
Josh Bard — C
Julian Tavarez — P

Daniel Cabrera scratched from Sunday's game

Nationals right-hander Daniel Cabrera was scratched from Sunday’s game against the Marlins because of neck spasms. He is listed as day to day.

Cabrera felt pain in his neck after taking batting practice on Saturday. He was given treatment that same day, but didn’t any feel better on Sunday. Cabrera’s next start is scheduled to be on Friday against the Orioles.   

Manager Manny Acta said he will use a bullpen-by-committee against the Marlins. Right-hander Julian Tavarez will get the start. Left-hander Wil Ledezma and right-hander Joel Hanrahan are also expected to pitch in the game.         

Tidbits on Nationals

Left-hander Scott Olsen made his sixth start of the spring and gave up three runs — one earned — in 5 2/3 innings against the Astros on Saturday afternoon. Early in the game, Olsen had problems  getting the ball down in the strike zone, but made the adjustment by the fourth inning. From that point to the sixth inning, Olsen retired six consecutive batters before walking Darin Erstad.    

Catcher Jesus Flores played in his first game since Feb. 28 and went 1-for-4 with a run scored against the Astros. Flores had missed most of the spring because of a sore right elbow.

Relievers Joe Beimel and Julian Tavarez made their Nationals debuts on Saturday. Tavarez lasted 1 1/3 innings and struck out two batters, while Beimel pitched an inning without giving up a run.

An update on Carlos Alvarez

During the team’s off-day on Thursday, assistant general manager Mike Rizzo and team president Stan Kasten went to the Dominican Republic to check on their new baseball academy in Boca Chica. Both Rizzo and Kasten said the players are in a beautiful facility near a beach resort.
“We met our staff. We meant the players. It was very good,” Kasten said. “Things are looking good already and I’m very optimistic going forward.”
On April 7, the Nationals are bringing nine players to the United States to play in extended spring training, and seven of those players will go back to the Dominican Republic to play in the Summer League.
There is no word of when infielder Carlos Alvarez, who previously called himself Esmailyn Gonzalez, will come to Minor League camp.  He was expected to arrive two weeks ago, but has been a no-show.
“I can tell you there is a lot going on behind the scenes. I know that’s vague, but I have to keep it there. This has a lot of levels and a lot of different entities,” Kasten said. “It’s going to take a while. There is still a chance he winds up playing here. It would need to be soon, so I wouldn’t rule that out at all. Things have to happen first.”
Alvarez, 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, Alvarez is listed as 19, but is really 23. Major League Baseball’s department of investigations is looking into the matter.                                               

Nationals starting lineup against Astros

Willie Harris — CF

Cristian Guzman — SS

Ryan Zimmerman — 3B

Adam Dunn — LF

Elijah Dukes– RF

Nick Johnson — 1B

Jesus Flores — C

Alex Cintron — 2B

Scott Olsen — P