March 2009

A Shawn Hill update

Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill had a bullpen session on Friday, throwing 35 pitches without feeling any pain in his forearm.

Hill hasn’t pitched in a game since Feb. 25 because of forearm soreness, but pitching coach Randy St. Claire has Hill tentatively scheduled to throw at least one inning against the Marlins in Jupiter Fla., on Monday. The team, however, wants to make sure Hill is pain-free on Saturday before penciling him in a game. 

“Shawn looked good. He threw the ball very well. He threw a normal bullpen,” St. Claire said. “We are going to wait and see [if he throws against the Marlins]. That would be his normal turn. … Tomorrow will be big day — to see if there are any tightness issues or any of that kind of stuff. Maybe we have to back it up a few days. We may have him do another bullpen session. We are going to play it by ear.”

Nationals sign Julian Tavarez

In need of bullpen help, the Nationals signed reliever Julian Tavarez to a non- guaranteed Minor League contract on Friday evening.

Tavarez, 35, played for the Red Sox, Brewers and Braves last season and had a 5.10 ERA in 52 games. His best season was in 2004 when he had a 2.38 ERA for the Cardinals.

Tavarez is a 16-year veteran who has played in 786 games during his career.

McGeary makes a decision

Left-hander Jack McGeary, the Nationals’ sixth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, has decided to take the spring and summer quarters off from Stanford University and concentrate on baseball full time. McGeary will return to school in the fall.

McGeary, 19, said he liked the way he pitched last season for the Gulf Coast Nationals and Class-A Vermont.

After the fall quarter, McGeary will decide once again if he will concentrate on baseball full time. He needs four quarters before he graduates from Stanford.

“I want to be a full-time player and I also got a lot of school done and I’m way ahead of schedule for graduating, so I’m able to take some time off.”        

There willl be more to come about McGeary on    

Dinner at LongHorn

I had the time of my life Wednesday night. I had dinner with Nationals coaches Jose Cardenal, Cesar Cedeno and Marquis Grissom at LongHorn to talk about playing the outfield.

I learned so much from these former outfielders that I felt I could play all three positions without any problems.

My conversation with Cardenal, Cedeno and Grissom will come out in a Q&A format on Sunday. They were not afraid to speak their minds.

I can dream, can't I?

There has been a lot of debate about who should be in the Nationals’ starting lineup this year. I’m going to give you my starting lineup. Tell me what you think and give me your starting lineup.

Willie Harris — CF
Next to Nick Johnson and Adam Dunn, Harris is the most patient hitter on the team. Let’s not forget that Harris is an excellent defensive outfielder. But the team still looks at Harris as a fourth outfielder.

Cristian Guzman — SS
He did a nice job batting second last year, hitting .311 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs.

Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
This is the year he is going to put it together. He’ll drive in 100 runs for the second time in his career.

Dunn — IF
This organization still hasn’t recovered from Vladimir Guerrero’s departure. Will Dunn be the difference maker Guerrero was with the Expos? It’s hard to tell. Give me until the All-Star Break and I’ll let you know. Dunn must cut down on the strikeouts.

Johnson — 1B
You have to cross your fingers that Johnson stays healthy all year. He has played only 38 games the last two years. When he’s healthy, it’s almost certain that he’ll be on base twice a game.

Elijah Dukes — RF
It’s a no-brainer that Dukes should be the regular right fielder. He is the most complete player on the Nationals.

Jesus Flores — C
He is the regular catcher as long as he stays healthy. By the way, it’s a no-brainer that Wil Nieves should be the backup. Nobody is better behind the plate than this guy.

Anderson Hernandez — 2B
I felt there was no need to consider Orlando Hudson because the Nationals already have quality second basemen in Ronnie Belliard, Hernandez and Harris. All three players bring energy on the field. But I have to go with Hernandez because his glove is so special. Defense wins ballgames and a lack of it was one of the reasons the Nationals lost 102 games last year.              

Some info to pass along about Nationals

* Nationals Minor League position players are expected to report to camp on Friday, but shortstop Carlos Alvarez David Lugo, who previously called himself Esmailyn Gonzalez, is not expected to arrive that day because of work visa issues. There is no timetable as to when he will report to camp.

Lugo, who received a $1.4 million signing bonus from the Nationals in 2006, was the center of controversy last month when it was reported that he allegedly falsified his name and age. In Washington’s 2008 media guide, Lugo is listed as 19 years old, but he is four years older.

* Right-hander Shawn Hill is expected to have a bullpen session on Friday. If things go well, Hill might be able to pitch in a game sometime next week.

* I saw Kip Wells today. He prefers starting over relieving. Manager Manny Acta said Wells will work on the Minor League field as a reliever.

* Acta said Jesus Flores’ right elbow is getting better, but there is no timetable as to when Flores will play in a game.

Nationals sign Kip Wells

The Nationals agreed to terms on a non-guaranteed Minor League contract with right-hander Kip Wells on Wednesday.  He is expected to be a starter and reliever during Spring Training.  

Last year, Well was with the Rockies and Royals and gave up a combined 26 earned runs in 37 2/3 innings. However, the Nationals feel he can be useful on the mound after watching him workout in Texas on Monday. 

“He threw free and easy and his stuff was still good,” assistant general manager Mike Rizzo said.  “It is a good low-risk Minor League deal.  We are trying to improve ourselves in every way we can, so this is one of the ways to acquire players. We hope that [pitching coordinator] Spin Williams and [pitching coach] Randy St. Claire can straighten him out.”

Wells, 31, is 65-94 with a 4.67 ERA in 256 games in 10-big league seasons. He has spent time with the White Sox, Pirates, Rangers, Cardinals, Rockies and Royals. 

So far, so good for Hill

Right-hander Shawn Hill played catch on Monday and didn’t have any problems with his right forearm. He threw from 60 to 90 feet. Hill will throw on flat ground on Wednesday and have a bullpen session on Friday.

If things go well, Hill may get to start in a game next week



Nationals make first round of cuts

The Nationals made their first round of cuts on Tuesday morning. They re-assigned pitchers Bobby Brownlie, Justin Jones, Preston Larrison and J.D. Martin, catcher Javier Herrera, infielders Chris Marrero and Matt Whitney and outfielder Destin Hood to Minor League camp.

The Nationals also optioned left-hander Mike O’Connor to Triple A Syracuse and left-hander pitcher Ross Detwiler to Double-A Harrisburg.

With the cuts, the Nationals’ Spring Training roster now stands at 58. 

A Shawn Hill update

Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill was evaluated by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday afternoon and it was determined that Hill has no structural damage to his right elbow and forearm. 

Hill has some inflammation in the forearm and was given anti-inflammatory medication. He should resume throwing activities in several days.

Hill was scratched from Thursday’s start against the Tigers because of right forearm discomfort.

Hill, who pitched one inning last Friday against the Astros, started to feel pain Sunday when he threw a bullpen session, but he didn’t inform the team about the problem until Tuesday.

Hill wanted to pitch against the Tigers, but the Nationals were against it.