September 2009

Nieves leaves game with left hamstring injury [update]

Nationals catcher Wil Nieves left Thursday’s game against the Phillies because of a left hamstring injury. He is expected to be out of action for at least four days.

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.

Josh Bard replaced Nieves in the bottom of the third inning. 

In the meantime, the Nationals need a backup catcher, so they acquired catcher Jamie Burke from the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations and placed catcher Jesus Flores on the 60-day disabled list. Flores had surgery on his right labrum on Wednesday.

Burke will join the Nationals on Friday, when they play the Mets at Citi Field.

Flores has surgery; Nats may need more catching

A day after it was learned that Nationals catcher Jesus Flores wouldn’t be ready to play baseball until the middle of Spring Training, interim manager Jim Riggleman said it will be a tough call on whether the team should acquire another starting catcher this winter.

Flores was in a throwing program the last couple of week. At first, the team thought Flores had tendinitis but the shoulder never got stronger. Flores ended up having right labrum surgery on Wednesday evening in Birmingham, Ala. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery. 

“That’s going to be a tough call because it’s really relying on the doctors and trainer’s information when it comes to getting a timetable as to when Flores will be back,” Riggleman said. “If it looks like it’s January and he’s ready to get it moving, we can go in hoping that he is our No. 1 guy.

“We also have to be aware that it’s a labrum situation that could affect his throwing. There is a lot to digest there for Mike Rizzo and everybody involved as to where we go with the catching. The two guys here [Josh Bard and Wil Nieves] are doing a good job, but if we are looking for a regular No. 1 guy, we are still hoping it’s Flores.”

If Flores isn’t ready, the Nationals may have to go to the free-agent market to find a starting catcher. A player such as  Rod Barajas may be a good fit because he is an excellent handler of pitchers.

Jesus Flores to have surgery on right shoulder

Jesus Flores’ season is now over. He will have shoulder surgery on Wednesday because of a tear in his right labrum. Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery in Birmingham, Ala.

Flores will not be on the field until the middle of Spring Training.

Flores has missed most of the 2009 season because of a right shoulder contusion. Flores hurt the shoulder on May 9, when he was hit by a Chris Young foul tip in Phoenix. Flores was in pain for several minutes, but remained in the game before being taken out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Flores was activated from the disabled list on Sept. 4 and made two pinch-hitting appearances, the last coming on Saturday against the Marlins. However, he was sent to Alabama after the series after complaining of shoulder soreness.

General manager Mike Rizzo said the team will weigh all their options during offseason, but feel there isn’t a need to acquire a starting catcher.

“With the people that we have on staff right now and Jesus, we feel comfortable where we are at,” Rizzo said.    

Flores ended the season by hitting .301 with four home runs and 15 RBIs. 

Detwiler to throw against Phillies on Thurdsay

The Nationals have decided to let left-hander Ross Detwiler start on Thursday night against the Phillies and push right-hander J.D. Martin back and let him throw against the Mets at Citi Field on Friday.

The original plan was to let Detwiler pitch out of the bullpen because he was close to his innings limit, but the Nationals want to see him get two more starts before the season is over.

“I want Ross to garner innings in the Major Leagues,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We want him to turn from prospect into a Major Leaguer. That’s what happens when you garner enough innings in the Major Leagues. What I expect of him is to get more innings and get Major League experience and set the stage for next year.

Detwiler, who was the Nationals’ No. 1 pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, has pitched in 11 big-league games is 0-5 with a 6.17 ERA. Detwiler said he is ready for the challenge of starting again and wants to leave a good impression going into the offseason.

“I threw a bullpen today and I’m trying to get back into my old routine. Once I get into a routine, I’ll do what I used to do,” Detwiler said. “They gave me another opportunity to start, so I want to get the ball rolling, go into Spring Training and compete for a job.”     

Rizzo denies talking to Nava

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo denied a report from that he has talked to Miguel Nava about the team’s scouting director’s position in Latin America. The two worked together when they were with the Diamondbacks. 

“The article is inaccurate,” Rizzo said. “I had a relationship with Miguel Nava in Arizona, but I have never talked to him about a job with Washington ever.”

Rizzo also said the team is looking for a new place to hold their Dominican Academy. The Nationals are currently using the Rawlings Academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.

“While you guys had a day off on Labor Day, [team president] Stan Kasten, [principal owner]  Mark Lerner and myself flew to the Dominican Republic to finalize [a site] and construction of a Dominican academy,” Rizzo said. “We’re well underway to finalizing terms. There are three different sites that we’re looking at. There are a bunch of construction issues that we’re nailing down right now, but we’re well underway and it’s something that we’re looking forward to being in by next Spring Training.

“We’re well underway to getting something really special in the Dominican Republic and all of Latin America. We’re also well underway in terms of future considerations of staffing throughout international operations, specifically Latin America. [We have] a coordinator in the Dominican Republic. We’re conducting a search for a director of international operations, Venezuelan supervisors, and scouting staff throughout Latin America. We’ve got our [hands] in Aruba, Curacao, Nicaragua, Mexico and throughout all of Latin America.”

David Villavicencio contributed to this report.   

Riggleman, Rizzo confirm meeting with Guzman

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman said that Cristian Guzman is their shortstop for 2009, but have not ruled out switching him to second base for next season.

It was revealed by on Thursday that Rizzo and Riggleman had a private meeting with Guzman and asked him to switch to second base for the 2010 season.

Guzman, who did not give Rizzo and Riggleman an answer, was in shock and told them he never played second base in his life. The only other position Guzman has played other than shortstop was in the 2008 All-Star Game when he played third base for the National League team.

“We talked with Guzman about that and what I foresee happening and what Mike Rizzo foresees happening is that some move will probably be made for the good of the ballclub,” Riggleman said. “We came in last place. We’ve had a struggling year. We can’t just say, we’re in good shape, let’s go get ’em

“We’ve got to try to improve and one of the things we’ve identified is that we need one more middle infielder. … If that middle infielder is a second baseman, then Guzman is a shortstop. If that middle infielder is a shortstop, then we need to see if we can make Guzman a second baseman because that’s a pretty good bat. We’ve got to keep our options open.”

Rizzo, who feels Guzman could prolong his career if he moves to second base, is looking for a defensive-oriented middle infielder.

“I’m looking more toward a really good defensive-oriented middle infielder because it helps our pitching staff,” Rizzo said. “I’m not going to rule out an offensive second baseman or shortstop because we don’t want to close any doors but what [are] looking for is a defensive guy, so we’re much stronger up the middle.”

Washington has been concerned about Guzman’s defense almost all season. They have been alarmed that Guzman is having problems going to his left on groundballs.

David Villavicencio contributed to this report.

Starting lineup for Nationals, Marlins

8- harris
6- guzman
5- zimmerman
3- dunn
7- willingham
9- dukes
4- orr
2- nieves
1- martin

7- coghlan
3- n. johnson
6- ramirez
5- cantu
2- baker
4- uggla
9- ross
8- maybin
1- j. johnson

Nats ask Guzman to play second base in 2010

The Nationals may not be looking to sign a free agent like second baseman Orlando Hudson this offseason.

It was learned that general manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman had a private meeting with shortstop Cristian Guzman on Thursday afternoon and asked him to switch to second base for the 2010 season.

Guzman, who did not give Rizzo and Riggleman an answer, was in shock and told them he never played second base in his life. The only other position Guzman has played other than shortstop was in the 2008 All-Star Game when he played third base for the National League team.

If Guzman agrees to the switch, that means the Nationals most likely will look for a shortstop during the offseason.

Will Ian Desmond get that chance to become the everyday shortstop? It’s hard to tell, but he got off to a quick start on Thursday night by going 2-for-4 and driving in four runs in his Major League debut against the Phillies.

Washington has been concerned about Guzman’s defense almost all season. They have been alarmed that Guzman is having problems going to his left on groundballs.

In the past, Riggleman believed that a foot injury has hampered Guzman’s ability to go to his left, but no one knows how Riggleman feels now because he was not available for comment.

Both Rizzo and Guzman declined to talk about the possible move to second.  

Nationals hosted Sept. 11th Remembrance Day

The Nationals hosted Sept. 11th Remembrance Day on Thursday at Nationals Park.

The Nationals honored those lost on Sept. 11th, 2001 and recognized members of the DC Fire Department and U.S. Capitol Police Department during pregame ceremonies. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Thomas Heidenberger, a longtime resident of Chevy Chase, MD, whose wife, Michele, was a senior flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.

The National Anthem was performed by Melissa Rechiutti, a member of the U.S. Capitol Police Department, and was accompanied by a flyover by Metropolitan Police Department helicopters.

Additionally, members of the Arlington County and City of Alexandria Fire Departments took the field as the “Starting 9.”

Nationals players wore specially-made DC Fire and EMS 9/11 Memorial hats during batting practice. The hats had the DCFD logo on the front, Curly “W” on the back and 9/11/01 on the side.

For the game, the team wore their patriotic uniforms along with the special red hats with flag logo produced by New Era for all MLB teams for the Fourth of July and Sept. 11th Remembrance games.

The Nationals offered discounted tickets for all active military, police officers, EMTs and firefighters for this contest against the Phillies.


Nats claim English; Montz designated for assignment

The Nationals continue to add pitching to their Minor League system. They claimed left-hander Jesse English off waivers from the Giants and designated catcher Luke Montz for assignment.             

In seven professional seasons in the Giants chain, English, 24, went 32-18 with a 3.94 ERA in 120 games (69 starts). San Francisco’s sixth-round selection in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, English has recorded 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings during his career. English’s finest season came in 2008, when he was named a mid-season All-Star en route to recording career-best efforts in wins (13), ERA (3.19) and strikeouts (135) in the hitter-friendly Class A California League.

English, who stands 6-foot-3, went 7-7 with a 4.20 ERA this season in 26 games (19 starts) for Double A Connecticut.

Montz, 26, hit  a combined .181 (58-for-320) with nine home runs and 36 RBI in 103 games this season for Triple-A Syracuse and Double A Harrisburg.