April 2009

Sunday's lineup against Braves

Cristian Guzman — SS

Elijah Dukes — CF

Ryan Zimmerman — 3B

Adam Dunn — 1B

Austin Kearns — RF

Josh Willingham — LF

Josh Bard — C

Willie Harris — 2B

Scott Olsen — P

Milledge made right decision

After Friday’s game, a few people wondered if Nationals center fielder Lastings Milledge would have been able to score on a double by Ryan Zimmerman in the third inning. The answer is no.

With runners on second and third and one out, Zimmerman took a pitch from Braves right-hander Derek Lowe and hit the ball to deep right field. Nationals third-base coach Pat Listach, first-base coach Marquis Grissom and manager Manny Acta thought that outfielder Jeff Francoeur caught the ball. In truth, the ball went over Francoeur’s head. Shairon Martis scored, but Milledge advanced only to third.

The Nationals lost sight of the ball after it went near the lighted scoreboard in right field. Francoeur quickly retrieved the ball and threw it back to the infield.

“I don’t think the ball went far away from Francoeur,” Acta said. “You could go either way with it. It looked like he was going to catch it. Even Zimmerman thought he caught the ball. The new stadiums these days have those lights on the wall and it really makes it hard on the base runners and coaches. Once the ball bounced and went into those lights, you can’t see it.”                             

Saturday's lineup against Braves

Lasting Milledge — CF
Cristian Guzman — SS
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Adam Dunn — LF
Nick Johnson — 1B
Austin Kearns — RF
Jesus Flores — C
Willie Harris — 2B
John Lannan — P

Will President Obama be at home opener?

The Washington Times reported on Friday that President Barack Obama will not attend the Nationals’ home opener on Monday.

When asked if the report was true, Nationals president Stan Kasten said the organization did not get a confirmation from the White House. The Nationals hope to have an answer by Monday.

“We just don’t know. We would love for him to come whenever he can,” Kasten said before the Nationals faced the Braves on Friday. “I do not know if he is coming on Monday. He is a busy guy. His schedule is subject to change.” 

Nats launch unprecedented program

The Nationals announced their 2009 DC Public High School Initiative recently. Nationals President Stan Kasten announced the landmark initiative which consists of two elements: one that is specific to the District High Schools with baseball teams and one that applies to all of the public high schools within the city. 

The Nationals have invited each of the 12 district public high school baseball teams to hold one two-hour practice at Nationals Park, utilizing either the field or the indoor batting cages. 

This exceptional program is offered at no cost to the schools. Practices will take place before the end of the school year and be held from 3:30 p.m. ET to 5:30 p.m. ET. Three high schools — Cardozo Senior High School, Dunbar High School and Roosevelt Senior High School — have already scheduled their practices

“The Washington Nationals are thrilled to provide our field for the High School baseball players who may one day wear our uniform,” Kasten said. “This is a unique opportunity for the city’s young athletes to spend a few hours on a Major League ball field. In addition, through our wide-spread ticket donation program, we are pleased to invite each public high school to enjoy their own very night at Nationals Park.”

All public high schools have been invited to select one home game from a list of available dates to be billed as their night at Nationals Park. The team will donate tickets for students and faculty to attend the game and their school will be recognized as part of a pre-game recognition ceremony.

Additionally, the Nationals have named the district public high school athletic departments as the recipient of the 2009 Baseball Equipment Drive in partnership with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. Fans may donate new and gently used baseball and softball equipment during the first weekend in May (1-3) when the team faces the Cardinals. 

A $5,000 grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, along with the donated equipment, will be shared among the district public high school athletic departments.

Wednesday's lineup against Marlins

1. Cristian Guzman — SS
2. Elijah Dukes — CF
3. Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
4. Adam Dunn — 1B
5. Josh Willingham — LF
6. Austin Kearns — RF
7. Willie Harris — 2B 
8. Wil Nieves — C
9. Daniel Cabrera — P

Nationals have problems stopping Ramirez

Ever since he was traded from the Red Sox to the Marlins after the 2005 season, shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been almost unstoppable against the Nationals. Entering the 2009 season, Ramirez was hitting .341 with 14 home runs and 31 RBIs against them. Those numbers were the best against any National League East club.

On Monday, Washington’s problems continued against Ramirez, for he went 2-for-3 with five RBIs, including a grand slam in the sixth inning off right-hander Steven Shell.

“This guy is one of the elite players in the league,” manager Manny Acta said. “There is a reason he is the face of this franchise. He is great hitter who can do it all on the field.”

So how can the Nationals stop Ramirez? Pitching coach Randy St. Claire has the answer.

“You have to make pitches,” St Claire said. “For me, we pitch him very poorly. We make a lot of mistakes and he doesn’t miss those mistakes. [When Shell gave up the grand slam], that was supposed to be a curveball down and away.  You look at it on replay, it was up and in. You can’t make mistakes like that. We just pitch him very poorly. We give him way too many pitches to hit.”

Tuesday's starting lineup against Marlins

1. Lastings Milledge — CF
2. Cristian Guzman — SS
3. Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
4. Adam Dunn — LF
5. Nick Johnson — 1B
6. Austin Kearns — RF
7. Ronnie Belliard — 2B 
8. Jesus Flores — C
9. Scott Olsen — P


Two questions for you

I have two questions to ask you:

* Are you satisfied with Lastings Milledge as the center fielder? Please explain.

* Did you think Lastings Milledge should have caught the inside-the-park home run by Emilio Bonifacio on Monday?




Hernandez update; Milledge fined

Manager Manny Acta said Monday that second baseman Anderson Hernandez’s left hamstring is getting better. Hernandez was able to run sprints, run backwards and take groundballs on Sunday.

Hernandez, who hit .276 with four RBIs this spring, strained his left hamstring running to first base in the sixth inning against the Braves on March 25.

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.

There is no timetable as to when Hernandez will have first a rehab assignment. Once he is activated from the disabled list, he will be the everyday second baseman, while Ronnie Belliard goes back on the bench.

“He is doing much better,” Acta said of Hernandez. “He will probably play a few games in Florida, extended spring training.”

In other news, center fielder Lastings Milledge was fined an undisclosed amount of money for missing Acta’s pep talk to the team on Sunday afternoon, according to three sources. Milledge, who participated in practice that day, was in the starting lineup in Monday’s season opener against the Marlins.