April 2009

Sunday's lineup against Mets

Justin Maxwell, cf
Ronnie Belliard, 2b
Ryan Zimmerman, 3b
Adam Dunn, 1b
Josh Willingham, lf
Austin Kearns, rf
Jesus Flores, c
Alberto Gonzalez, ss
Jordan Zimmermann, rhp

Nationals' injury report

Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young continues to play extended Spring Training games. In fact, he played nine innings on Friday and is close to a rehab assignment, according to acting general manager Mike Rizzo. 

Young will most likely spend 20 days with Triple-A Syracuse. Young has missed the start of the season because of lower back and left hip injuries.

Once Young is in game shape, the Nationals have to decide how Young will fit in with the big club. As of now, there doesn’t appear to be any room for him. Nick Johnson is the starting first baseman, while Adam Dunn remains the backup.               

In other news, right-hander Terrell Young, the team’s Rule 5 pick, continues to rehab his right shoulder and there is no timetable as to when he will pitch in a game.

Once Young is healthy, the Nationals must decide whether to keep him or send him back to the Reds. The Nationals could also acquire his services through a trade.  

Saturday's lineup against Mets

Anderson Hernandez, 2B
Nick Johnson, 1B
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
Adam Dunn, RF
Elijah Dukes, CF
Josh Willingham, LF
Alberto Gonzalez, SS
Wil Nieves, C
Daniel Cabrera, RHP

Nats impressed with Citi Field

The Nationals arrived at Citi Field on Friday afternoon and came away impressed with the Mets’ new home.

The Nationals took early batting practice around 2:30 p.m. ET, and realized that the stadium is a pitcher’s park, which pleased closer Joel Hanrahan.

The dimensions are as follows: Left field: 335 feet, left center: 379 feet, center field: 408 feet, right center: 383 feet and right field: 330 feet.

“It’s an upgrade from Shea Stadium,” Hanrahan said. “I saw a couple of games on TV and it looked a little bigger. We actually went out for early batting practice and I asked [hitting coach] Rick Eckstein how the stadium was playing and he said, ‘It’s a big ballpark,’ which is not a problem for me.

“Anytime you know that you are playing in a bigger park, you feel you have extra wiggle room. The Mets are a good hitting team. If you make a mistake, they can still hit it out.”    

The dimensions aren’t the only thing manager Manny Acta noticed at Citi Field.

“It’s beautiful. It’s a state-of-the-art-facility,” Acta said. “That’s the main thing nowadays. When they build one of these new ones, it’s gorgeous. We enjoyed the stadium out there earlier.”

Left-hander John Lannan grew up in Long Island, and while he loves the new stadium, Lannan has a soft spot for Shea. He remembers watching his father, Ed, drive down the Van Wyck Expressway with Shea Stadium always in sight. 

“I miss Shea. It just feels different,” Lannan said. “Citi Field is a beautiful ballpark. I took a run around and saw the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and it’s really cool. I was coming up on the Van Wyck today and not seeing Shea, it was kind of weird because you always saw it. Not to see it this time was kind of weird for me.” 

Friday's lineup against Mets

Anderson Hernandez — 2B

Nick Johnson — 1B

Ryan Zimmerman — 3B

Adam Dunn — LF

Elijah Dukes — CF

Austin Kearns — RF

Jesus Flores — C

Alberto Gonzalez — SS

Scott Olsen — P  

Updates on Cristian Guzman, Willie Harris

Infielder/outfielder Willie Harris begins his rehab assignment on Wednesday as Triple-A Syracuse face Lehigh Valley at Alliance Bank Stadium.

On Thursday, shortstop Cristian Guzman will begin playing in Extended Spring games in Florida. The Nationals Extended Spring club will play the Tigers on Thursday.


Wednesday's lineup against Braves

Alex Cintron — SS

Nick Johnson — 1B

Ryan Zimmerman — 3B

Adam Dunn — RF

Elijah Dukes — CF

Josh Willingham — LF

Ronnie Belliard — 2B

Jesus Flores — C

John Lannan — P

Rizzo: Not impressed with Steven Shell

Acting general manager Mike Rizzo acknowledged on Tuesday that he wasn’t impressed with right-hander Steven Shell, who was designated for assignment on Sunday after posting a 5.40 ERA in four relief appearances.

“I didn’t like the mind-set on the mound and his preparation for the game. I didn’t like his whole aura on the mound,” Rizzo said “We talked to him all through spring.”

Last year, Shell had a solid rookie season in 2008, posting a 2.16 ERA in 39 relief appearances, but a few people in the organization believed it was a fluke. They felt Shell didn’t have the fastball to get hitters out consistently.    

Rizzo: No regrets fining, benching Dukes

Nationals acting general manager Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that he doesn’t regret benching and fining center fielder Elijah Dukes on Saturday.     

Dukes was scratched from that day’s starting lineup against the Marlins and fined $500 for being five minutes late for work.

Dukes was late because he was at a Little League function that was not sponsored by the Nationals. The problem the Nationals had was that Dukes never called anyone from Rizzo to manager Manny Acta to say he was going to the event would be late for workouts.   

According to the Washington Post, the Great Falls Little League is in the process of raising the money, plus $1 in “administrative expenses” to pay Dukes’ fine. 

“I haven’t read who is favoring whom, but I did what I thought I had to do for the best 25-men in the clubhouse. I stand by it,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo declined to talk about the Great Falls Little League paying Dukes’ fine.   

Majestic Athletic apologizes to Nationals

This past Friday against the Marlins, Nationals outfielder Adam Dunn and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman were seen wearing their home uniforms with the name, Nationals, misspelled. The O was missing on the uniform. They changed jerseys with the right spelling during the middle of the game.

When the Nationals opened the boxes from Majestic Athletic earlier in the day, the team just looked at the back of the jerseys to make sure the spellings of the player’s last names were correct. The club assumed its name was correct in the front of the jerseys.

On Tuesday, Majestic Athletic apologized for the mistakes they made on the uniforms.

“All of us at Majestic Athletic want to apologize to both the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball for accidentally omitting the ‘O’ in two Nationals jerseys last week,” said Jim Pisani, president of Majestic Athletic. “We take 100 percent responsibility for this event and we regret any embarrassment for the Nationals organization, players and fans. 

“Outfitting all 30 teams and 750 players is a duty we take very seriously. Majestic has been trusted on-field for over 25 years.  Based on our history, clubhouse managers expect that every new uniform from Majestic is perfect.  For the Nationals, this time we did not meet this standard.”