June 2009

Nationals trying to acquire Nyjer Morgan [update]

Looking to improve their outfield defense, the Nationals are trying to acquire Pirates outfielder Nyjer Morgan, according to a baseball source.

The Nationals see Morgan as a center fielder/leadoff hitter. The Nationals also like his hockey attitude. He once played with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League during the 1999-2000 season.

Currently, Morgan is playing left field and batting second for Pittsburgh. Entering Saturday’s action, Morgan is hitting .267 with two home runs, 27 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

“It is most definitely [flattering that another team wants me] because it means that I opened up some other team’s eyes and they think that I can help out their organization, too,” Morgan said. “But I really can’t worry about that. I can only worry about what I can take care of here with the Buccos.”

Published reports indicated that Washington is willing to part with outfielder Lastings Milledge, who is currently playing in the Gulf Coast League. But the Pirates don’t need another outfielder. They are looking for a starting pitcher or a middle infielder in return.
Right-hander Craig Stammen’s name has been mentioned in trade talks, but it seems unlikely that he will be dealt. He is considered a major part of a young rotation that includes John Lannan and Jordan Zimmermann.

Don’t look for middle infielders such Alberto Gonzalez or Danny Espinosa to be dealt, but second baseman Anderson Hernandez could be part of the deal. Another source said that the Nationals are going to look for a second baseman after the season.

Morgan is the not the only outfielder the Nationals are looking at. They have interest in Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer. He began the season as Atlanta’s everyday center fielder, but was sent down after the team acquired Nate McLouth from the Pirates.

The Nationals have been unhappy with their outfielders for quite some time. They have come to the come to the conclusion that Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham belong in the American League as designated hitters and Elijah Dukes makes too many mental mistakes.

Only Willie Harris and Austin Kearns have played solid defense, but they are not part of the team’s long-term plans.          

Saturday's starting lineup against Orioles

Harris — cf

Guzman — dh

Zimmerman — 3b

Dunn — 1b

Willingham — lf

Bard — c

Belliard — 2b

Kearns — rf

Gonzalez — ss

Nationals trying to get Nyjer Morgan

Looking to improve their outfield defense, the Nationals are trying to acquire Pirates outfielder Nyjer Morgan, according to a baseball source.

The Nationals see Morgan as a center fielder/leadoff hitter. Currently, he is playing left field and batting second for Pittsburgh. Entering Saturday’s action, Morgan is hitting .267 with two home runs, 27 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

Published reports indicated that Washington is willing to part with outfielder Lastings Milledge, who is currently playing in the Gulf Coast League. But the Pirates don’t need another outfielder. They are looking for a starting pitcher or a middle infielder in return.

Right-hander Craig Stammen’s name has been mentioned in trade talks, but it seems unlikely that he will be dealt. He is considered a major part of a young rotation that includes John Lannan and Jordan Zimmermann.

Don’t look for middle infielders such Alberto Gonzalez or Danny Espinosa to be dealt, but second baseman Anderson Hernandez could be part of the deal. Another source said that the Nationals are going to look for a second baseman after the season.          

Olsen to pitch next week against Marlins

Manager Manny Acta announced that left-hander Scott Olsen will be activated from the disabled list before the Nationals play a three-game series against the Marlins. Olsen most likely will start Monday at Dolphin Stadium.

Olsen’s return means one of the young pitchers in the rotation will be sent back to Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Craig Stammen, who is schedule to pitch on Monday, is the leading candidate to be sent down. He is 1-3 with a 5.49 ERA. 
             

Dmitri Young begins rehab assignment

Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young started his rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast Nationals on Friday and went 0-for-1 with a walk against the Mets. It was Young’s first game of the season after spending  almost three months in extended Spring Training.

Young, who is currently on the disabled list because of back and hip problems, will play three games in the Gulf Coast League and then play for Double-A Harrisburg.

Young will be in the Minor Leagues for 20 days, and then the Nationals must decide where he fits in with the Major League club. As of right now, there doesn’t appear to be room for Young because Nick Johnson is the starting first baseman with Adam Dunn as the backup.

“You never know. There could be a trade or an injury,” said a baseball source on Young chances of playing for the big club.

In other news, outfielder Lastings Milledge also played in the Gulf Coast game against the Mets. It was his first appearance since breaking his hand  on May 11 as a member of Triple A Syracuse.

Friday's lineup against Orioles

Guzman — ss

Johnson — 1b

Zimmerman — 3b

Dunn — dh

Willingham — lf

Dukes — rf

Bard — c

Harris — cf

Hernandez — 2b  

Starting lineups for Thursday

Red Sox

Pedroia — 4

Drew — 9

Bay — 7

Ortiz — 3

Lowell — 5

Varitek — 2

Ellsbury — 8

Green — 6

Smoltz — 1

 

Nationals

Guzman — 6

Johnson — 3

Zimmerman — 5

Dunn — 7

Willingham — 9

Bard — 2

Harris — 8

Hernandez — 4

Zimmermann –1

Is Ronnie Belliard retiring?

Nationals second baseman Ronnie Belliard will not see much action on the field for a while. In fact, since June 10, Belliard has two at-bats.

Manager Manny Acta went so far as to say that Anderson Hernandez and Alberto Gonzalez would get the bulk of the playing time at the position.

“Hernandez and Gonzalez are playing very well,” Acta said. “It’s our responsibility to not only play the guys who are playing well, but also the guys who are going to be part of our future.”

When MLB.com spoke to him about what Acta said about his limited playing time, Belliard,34, took the news like a professional.

“They decide who plays and they decide who don’t,” Belliard said. “It’s not my fault. They go with the young guys — hey  — I don’t make the lineup.”      

Belliard, who is in the last year of his contract, wasn’t sure about his future in baseball. He has already announced that this offseason will be his last playing for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League. Belliard said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Asked if 2009 was his last playing Major League Baseball, Belliard said, “I don’t know yet. Let’s see what happens.”

Belliard is hitting .171 with two home runs and seven RBIs this season.

Olsen has solid start for Syracuse

It appears that Scott Olsen has earned his way back to the big leagues. On Wednesday night, Olsen made his third rehab start for Triple-A Syracuse, going six innings and giving up two runs on eight hits against Scranton Wilkes-Barre. It was his best outing by far.

The Nationals said all along that Olsen would not be back in the big leagues unless he pitched at least five innings in a game.         
 

Dunn has wrist injury; Bernadina getting better

Nationals outfielder Adam Dunn did not start Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox because of a sore right wrist. Dunn had an MRI taken earlier in the day and the results were negative.

Dunn said he has had problems with the wrist for a while, but the pain grew worse against the Red Sox after fouling off a pitch in the fourth inning on Tuesday.  

“It’s a precautionary thing. … It’s no big deal,” Dunn said. “I don’t want to get days off. I don’t feel like I do. You just call it a good solid benching.”

With Dunn on the bench, manager Manny Acta put Josh Willingham in left field and inserted first baseman Nick Johnson as the cleanup hitter. Outside of Dunn, according to Acta, Johnson is the one guy who can protect Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup.

Roger Bernadina, on the disabled list because of a fractured right ankle, played catch with head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz and didn’t have any problems moving his legs.

Bernadina acknowledged that the ankle is still sore and will have X-Rays on the ankle in a couple of weeks. He hopes to return in the big leagues sometime in September.

Left-hander Matt Chico, on the  DL because of  elbow reconstruction, had a bullpen session on Wednesday. He didn’t have any problems throwing all of his pitches.

Chico is scheduled to pitch three innings for Double A Harrisburg on Saturday.

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