March 2009

Nats sign Josh Bard

The Nationals signed catcher Josh Bard to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training on Saturday. Bard is expected to join the club in a couple of days. If he makes the club, Bard will make $600,000.

Bard, 30, was released by the Red Sox this week.

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Nationals starting lineup against Cardinals

Anderson Hernandez — 2B
Cristian Guzman — SS
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Nick Johnson — 1B
Elijah Dukes — CF
Josh Willingham — LF
Austin Kearns– RF
Wil Nieves — C
Jordan Zimmermann — P



Joe Beimel sighting at Space Coast Stadium

Left-hander Joe Beimel was spotted in the Nationals locker room early Saturday morning putting on his cleats. It was the first time the media saw him since he signed a one year, $2 million contract with the Nationals on Wednesday.

Beimel will start throwing live batting practice on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET and then pitch in a Minor League game on Monday. The team will then determine when he will pitch in a Major League game.

Beimel said he was able to stay in shape by working out with the UCLA baseball team.

There will be more on Beimel on    

Tidbits about Nats

* I went to Space Coast Stadium this morning looking for newcomer Joe Beimel, but I never saw him. It turns out that he was taking his physical. I will most likely see him on Saturday.

I can’t tell you how happy Manny Acta is about the Beimel signing. He really thinks he has a solid bullpen now. I never believed Jesus Colome, who is having a good spring, was the leading candidate for the eight-inning job. Colome has been too inconsistent during the Acta era.

* First base coach Marquis Grissom will not be with the Nationals for the next two games because of a death in the family. Cesar Cedeno was coaching first base on Friday against the Tigers.

* I spoke to an opposing scout on Wednesday and he told me the Nationals are trying to trade first baseman Nick Johnson and outfielder Austin Kearns, but doubts they will be dealt. The scout doesn’t see a team willing to take on Kearns’ $8 million salary or take a chance on Johnson, who is known for missing a lot of games because of injuries.

* There was a report that came out last night that said the Nationals have interest in reliever Will Ohman. That’s no longer the case now that they have signed Beimel. The Nationals are now going in-house to staff the rest of their bullpen.        

Young takes batting practice

Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young took batting practice on Friday morning at Space Coast Stadium, marking the first time since early March that Young was able to do any baseball activities. 

Young, who took 30 swings, has missed most of Spring Training because of a sore back. He has played in three games and is 0-for-4 during the exhibition season. There isn’t a timetable on when Young will play in a game.

However, getting healthy may be too late for Young. The chances of him making the 25-man roster are slim. The team appears set with Nick Johnson as the starting first baseman with Adam Dunn and Ronnie Belliard as the backups.

Asked if it was too late for Young to make the Opening day roster, manager Manny Acta said, “Almost, yeah. He has to have a lot of at-bats and be on the field. But you know what? Unless he is ready to go on the field and play in the game, we will not know.”

“If he makes the club as a bench guy, he probably doesn’t need as much action or at-bats as a guy who is going to be up there everyday. He probably doesn’t need the stamina to play nine innings. We have to wait until he is healthy.”

Nationals make third round of cuts

The Nationals made their third round of roster cuts after their 5-4 victory over the Orioles on Thursday afternoon.

The team sent outfielder Roger Bernadina and Ryan Langerhans, infielder Pete Orr, catcher Luke Montz and left-hander Gustavo Chacin to Minor League camp.  All five players are expected to play for Triple-A Syracuse.      

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Flores takes batting practice

Nationals catcher Jesus Flores took batting practice for the first time since hurting his right elbow in early March. 

Flores was hitting line drives all over the place at Space Coast Stadium and didn’t feel any pain in the elbow. Flores will take batting practice again on Friday. There is no timetable as to when Flores will play in a game, but manager Manny Acta said early this week that the team will make a determination by Monday.

“I don’t feel anything in my elbow. I’m going to start working on my timing and rhythm,” Flores said. “It’s hard for me to say when I will play in a game, but I know it’s close.” 

Nationals starting lineup against Orioles

Anderson Hernandez — 2B
Cristian Guzman — SS
Elijah Dukes — RF
Josh Willingham — LF
Kory Casto — 3B
Brad Eldred — 1B
Corey Patterson — CF
Wily Mo Pena — DH
Wil Nieves — C 

Right-hander Shairon Martis will be the pitcher for the Nationals.

Sosa not coming to Washington

Right-hander Jorge Sosa will not be joining the Nationals any time soon.  According to manager Manny Acta, Sosa was denied a work visa recently by the United States Consulate in the Dominican Republic.

Sosa, 31, is appealing the ruling. Acta declined to say if the Nationals would release Sosa.

“It’s a very complicated situation. His agents are working through it. But right now, we are moving on,” Acta said. “It would be tough [for him to make the team]. It would be tough for any body to come into camp … and get a job. We are not even thinking about him making our club. That’s why we went out and grabbed guys like Kip Wells and Julian Tavarez. 

Sosa, who signed a Minor League contract with Washington last December, was expected to compete for a bullpen spot. Once he enters the United States, however, Sosa must complete a 50-game Minor Leagues suspension for testing positive for using an amphetamine.

Ronnie Bellaird is hurt

Nationals second baseman Ronnie Belliard left Wednesday’s game against the Marlins in the top of the fourth inning because of a left ankle injury.

With Josh Willingham on first base, Belliard hit a groundball to Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who threw to shortstop Robert Andino for the force out. Belliard was safe at first, but a few steps after toughing first, Belliard turned his ankle and feel to the ground. Belliard had to be helped off the field.

Jose Castillo pinch-ran for Belliard in the same inning.