August 2009

Starting lineups for Nationals, Brewers

Brewers:

Lopez – 2B

Catalanotto – RF

Braun – LF

Fielder – 1B

McGehee – 3B

Cameron – CF

Kendall – C

Gallardo – P

Escobar – SS

Nationals:

Morgan – CF

Guzman – SS

Zimmerman – 3B

Dunn – 1B

Willingham – RF

Harris – LF

Gonzalez – 2B

Nieves – C

Balester – P

Dukes hurts thumb; Bernadina out for season

Right fielder Elijah Dukes was expected to bat seventh in Sunday’s game against the Brewers, but was a late scratch because he hurt left thumb taking batting practice on Saturday. Instead, Mike Morse received the start in right field.

Dukes, who is in a 10-for-47 slump, was concerned about his swing, so he decided to take early batting practice on Saturday.

“The thumb kind of blistered up. It’s just a little too sore to play, really, so he is a late scratch from the lineup,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

The skipper didn’t say when Dukes would return to action.

In other news, outfielder Roger Bernadina is out for the year because of a fractured right ankle. He injured the ankle making a great catch against the Marlins last April. He is currently rehabbing the ankle in Viera, Fla., but is running the bases at only 50 percent.    

Starting lineups for Nationals, Brewers [update]

Brewers:

Lopez  – 2B

Cameron – CF

Braun – LF

Fielder – 1B

McGehee – 3B

Bourgeois – RF

Kendall – C

Escobar – SS

Burns – P

Nationals:

Morgan – CF

Gonzalez – SS

Dunn – 1B

Zimmerman – 3B

Belliard – 2B

Dukes – RF

Padilla – LF

Nieves – C

Lannan – P

Players with the best tools

BEST TOOLS: Eight players from the Nationals organization were cited in Baseball America‘s annual Best Tools survey voted upon by league managers…a closer look:

BEST TOOLS – National League

3B Ryan Zimmerman – Best Defensive Third Baseman in the NL

OF Nyjer Morgan – Tied as Best Baserunner in the NL with Juan Pierre (Los Angeles-NL) and 3rd-Fastest Baserunner in the NL.

BEST TOOLS – Triple-A

2B Seth Bynum – Best Defensive Second Baseman in the International League.

SS Ian Desmond – Best Infield Arm in the International League.

RHP J.D. Martin – Best Control in the International League.

 

BEST TOOLS – Double-A

SS Ian Desmond – Best Infield Arm in the Eastern League.

 

BEST TOOLS – Single-A

SS Danny Espinosa – Best Defensive Shortstop and Best Infield Arm in the Carolina League.

RHP Brad Meyers – Best Control in the Carolina League.

C Derek Norris – Best Batting Prospect and Best Power Prospect in the South Atlantic League.

The inbox returns on Sunday

The inbox is returning on Sunday. Please send questions to bill.ladson@mlb.com  

Thanks

Frank Thomas puts Mike Rizzo on baseball map

In 1989, Mike Rizzo was a Midwest and Southeast territorial scout for the White Sox. That year, Rizzo, then 28, scouted a player named Frank Thomas from Auburn University.

Rizzo insisted that the White Sox draft the right-handed hitting slugger in the first round, but Thomas was not a consensus pick among members of the organization

“I learned how to go after a player passionately, fight for your player and fight to draft the right guy at the right spot,” Rizzo said 20 years later.

The White Sox ended up drafting Thomas in the first round of the 1989 First-Year Player Draft. Not too long after that, Rizzo helped Chicago negotiate Thomas’ first professional contract.It was the first time Rizzo ever dealt with a player agent for such a large sum of money.

Thomas signed and ended up having a great career in the big leagues, hitting .301 with 521 home runs, 1,704 RBIs and two American League MVP awards.

“It was the shinning point of my career.” Rizzo said. 

What happens to Riggleman?

Now that Mike Rizzo has been named the general manager, the Nationals must decide who becomes the manager on a permanent basis.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman has done a good job since taking over the club after the All-Star break, going 17-16 entering Thursday’s action against the Rockies.

But the Nationals will go through a mangerial search during the offseason and then decide who will manage the club.

“I certainly like what Jim has done. I’m the one who made him the interim manager. It was my decision,”  Rizzo said. “He is an old-school baseball guy with a lot of new ideas. He is certainly going to be a candidate for the permanent managerial job, but that’s a discussion we are going to have after the season is over and throughout the winter. There is going to be a process.”               

Rizzo to be named general manager of Nationals

Mike Rizzo is no longer acting general manager of the Nationals. He will be named the permanent GM  at a news conference on Thursday at Nationals Park, according to a baseball source.

The Nationals made the decision that Rizzo was their man a couple of days ago.
  
In March, the Nationals named Rizzo acting general manager, two days after Jim Bowden resigned from the GM position. Rizzo has handled responsibilities related to the Major League, Minor League and scouting operations of the organization. Day-to-day inquiries related to player personnel have been directed to Rizzo, with team president Stan Kasten having key hands-on involvement.

Since taking the job, Rizzo has made upgrades to the bullpen by adding Mike McDougal, Jorge Sosa and Ron Villone, and he gained authorization to acquire outfielder Nyjer Morgan and left-hander Sean Burnett from the Pirates for outfielder Lastings Milledge and right-hander Joel Hanrahan. The deal with Pittsburgh has played out initially as a considerably favorable one for Washington. Rizzo was also in place during a switch at manager that has resulted in better performance this month.

Rizzo, as expected for any person in his role, was a visible figure in the efforts to get No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg signed before Monday’s midnight ET deadline.
 
“Mike keeps his energy level high,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “He always comes in fired up — always talking about today’s game and last night’s game. He is very much in tune to the strengths and weaknesses of the club. I really enjoy working with him.

“I think he has been very patient with the roster in terms of the position players, but has not hesitated to make moves when we were failing as a pitching staff. I think he was willing to go down to Syracuse and keep changing it up until we found the right mix. So it’s a great combination. He’s showed aggressiveness and patience.” 
 

Fans love Stephen Strasburg

On Wednesday, the Nationals sold 6,000 $1 tickets in three hours for the Stephen Strasburg press conference on Friday.  

The team will also sell 1,000 walkup tickets from noon to 2 p.m. ET on Friday at Nationals Park.       

Zimmermann has elbow surgery

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had elbow reconstruction on Wednesday and is expected to miss 12 to 18 months.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the team’s medical director, and Dr. Lewis Yocum in Southern Calif.

Zimmermann, who is traveling to Washington on Thursday, will be in a splint for seven days and then start range-of-motion exercises. He is expected to stay with the club and rehab the elbow for the rest of the season.

Zimmermann pitched in 16 games and was 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA for Washington this season.    

In other news, outfielder Austin Kearns, on the disabled list because of a thumb contusion, hopes to start baseball activities in a couple of weeks.   

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