September 2009

Burnett, Nieves still ailing

Catcher Wil Nieves was hoping to start on his 31st birthday against the Braves on Friday, but he will continue to be sidelined because of minor left hamstring tightness.

Nieves is looking to play against the Braves by Sunday. Nieves hurt the hamstring last Thursday against the Phillies.

Nieves came to the plate in the top of the third inning and hit a comebacker to left-hander  Cole Hamels, who threw Nieves out at first base. As he got close to the bag, Nieves started limping. Getting back to the dugout was difficult for Nieves. It took about 30 seconds before he hit the dugout steps.

Did you ever wonder why Sean Burnett hasn’t pitched much of late? He still has the left thumb contusion suffered last month against the Brewers.

Burnett hurt the thumb in the seventh inning on Aug. 23 trying to field a groundball hit by Milwaukee’s Felipe Lopez.

Burnett, who never went on the DL because of the injury, believes rest will make it better.

“It’s a lingering problem and  it hasn’t gotten any better since I got hit ,” Burnett said. “It wasn’t that hard of a hit ball. It’s just something that didn’t get any better. At times it has gotten worse. It just hasn’t come along like I thought it would, but I’ve been going out there as much as possible.”

Burnett is planning to see several doctors in the next couple of days.

Guzman takes day off Thursday

Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman made two throwing errors in the ninth inning Wednesday and we now know what the problem is. According to interim manager Jim Riggleman, Guzman has a tender right shoulder and will get the day off Thursday.

Riggleman said that Guzman has been playing with the bad shoulder for at least a month.  This is not the first time Guzman has had shoulder problems. He missed the entire 2006 season because of a tear inside the shoulder, an injury many believe surfaced when he was a member of the Twins.

Entering Thursday’s action, Guzman is hitting .285 with six home runs and 50 RBIs.                    

Hudson: Never took physical with Nationals

Last February, the Nationals signed slugger Adam Dunn to a two-year $20 million deal, but reportedly bypassed second baseman Orlando Hudson because he didn’t pass a physical due to left wrist problems.

Not true, said Hudson recently at Nationals Park.    

Hudson, now a Dodgers second baseman, said he never took a physical with Washington. 

“[The Nationals] just read the reports about other teams reading about the physical,” Hudson said. “I never came to Washington [to take the physical]. I didn’t take a physical for anybody, not even [the Dodgers].”

Then-Nationals general manager Jim Bowden and current GM Mike Rizzo were not available for comment.  

Entering Wednesday’s action against the Nationals, Hudson is hitting .288 with nine home runs and 60 RBIs.      

Tidbits from Citi Field

* Shortstop Ian Desmond will play for the Licey Tigers this offseason, joining outfielder Elijah Dukes.  

* Left-hander Ross Detwiler will pitch against the Dodgers on Wednedsay. Interim manager Jim Riggleman didn’t rule out Detwiler getting another start. Detwiler is close to his innings limit.

* Ryan Zimmerman [2006] and Adam Dunn [2009] are the only members of the Nationals to drive in 100 runs in a season.  

Bobby Williams back with Nationals

Bobby Williams, who was dismissed as the Nationals’ farm director two weeks ago, told the organization on Friday that he will stay on as a coach in Viera, Fla.

It’s not known what his duties as a coach will be. Williams nor general manager Mike Rizzo were available for comment.

Desmond to play right field

Interim Nationals manager Jim Riggleman continues to experiment with the lineup. On Saturday, he decided to start shortstop Ian Desmond in right field, a position Desmond has not played since he was in high school in Sarasota Fla. 

Desmond was given three days noticed that he would play the position. In fact ,he was seen playing right field during batting practice on Saturday. 

Riggleman made the move in order to get Pete Orr in the lineup at second base. Right-hander John Maine is pitching on Sunday and he is tough on left-handers. So Riggleman will have an all-right-handed lineup that day.

As for Desmond, he borrowed a glove from outfielder Justin Maxwell in order to play the right field. Desmond said he was not nervous when he was told about playing a new position. 

“They believe in me and they want me out there. I will go where ever they want,” Desmond said. “I don’t care, as long as I’m on the field and get a chance to play in the big league level. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Riggleman didn’t rule out using Desmond in right field.

“I would say it could [happened again] based on who’s pitching or if someone is banged up,” Riggleman said.  

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Zimmerman reaches 30-homer plateau

While attending the University of Virginia, Ryan Zimmerman hit seven home runs.

After he was drafted by the Nationals in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Zimmerman warned he was not a home run hitter and indicated that he was going to hit a lot doubles.

Zimmerman has hit his share of doubles in the big leagues, all right, but he was wrong about not being a home-run hitter. In fact, on Friday, Zimmerman, took a Mike Pelfrey pitch for a two-run homer, giving Washington a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

It was Zimmerman’s 30th home run of the season and the first time he has put together a 30-homer season.

“I never hit home runs until I got to the big leagues,” Zimmerman said. “I guess I saved the home runs. I don’t know. That’s how it is. I just keep working hard and get better each year.”

How  does Zimmerman feel about reaching the 30-homer plateau?

“It means that I’m getting better. It’s proves that I’ve done it,” Zimmerman said. “It’s great. I’m excited and all that. It gives you a bench mark to shoot for each year. I have another reason to work even harder.”

Orr to go behind home plate for Nats

Infielder Pete Orr will play in the Florida Instructional League this offseason to work on his catching skills. The Nationals are looking for him to be an emergency catcher in 2010. 

The idea of putting Orr behind the plate was made by Triple-A Syracuse manager Tim Foli, who was an emergency catcher with the Mets in the early 1970s. The Nationals decided to implement the plan on Thursday after catcher Wil Nieves went down with a left hamstring injury.

Orr, who has played seven positions during his professional career, is open to learning a new position because it would mean he has a better chance to stay on a big-league roster.

“I never caught a game on a high level. I caught bullpens,” Orr said.                  

Orr has been impressive ever since he was called up from Syracuse on Aug. 28. In 16 games, Orr is 15-for 44 [.341] with a home run and eight RBIs.       

“Pete is a terrific extra player. He is a great makeup guy. He is a guy I’ve always liked,” general manager Mike Rizzo said.    

Nationals acquire catcher Jamie Burke

In need to replace Wil Nieves, who suffered a left hamstring injury on Thursday night, the Nationals acquired catcher Jamie Burke from the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations and placed catcher Jesus Flores on the 60-day disabled List.

General manager Mike Rizzo made this deal shortly after Nieves was hurt. The Nationals couldn’t go to their Minor League system because there is nobody that could help them right now.    

Interim manager Jim Riggleman managed Burke in Seattle last year. Burke is a solid defensive catcher, who has played parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues during his 17-year career. Burke, 37, hit .282 (107-for-380) with three home runs and 38 RBI in 184 career big-league games. He has posted a .280 (1183-for-4227) batting average with 54 home runs and 535 RBI in 1209 career minor-league contests.

“He is a good catch and throw guy, but he gets his hits,” Riggleman said. “He is a quality guy, total team guy, character person. He will help us get through those injuries.”     

In a backup role this season, Burke appeared 13 games with Seattle, hitting .284 (23-for-81) with 11 RBI in 22 games with Tacoma of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.