November 2009

Strasburg will not need surgery

The Nationals received good news Friday. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will not need surgery on his left knee, according to a baseball source.

Strasburg went to see Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles and all Strasburg needs to do is rest the knee, put ice on it and have therapy. Strasburg and general manager Mike Rizzo were not available for comment.

Strasburg was scratched from Saturday’s start in the Arizona Fall League championship game because of a twisted left knee, suffered during a Phoenix Desert Dogs workout on Thursday afternoon.

An MRI showed inflammation in the knee.

Strasburg, who was the first overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, made five starts, going 4-1 with a 4.26 ERA. He struck out 26 batters in 19 innings for the Desert Dogs.
It marks the second time Strasburg was injured during the AFL season. Previously, a neck injury forced him to miss a start.

Strasburg reportedly hurt his left knee while shagging fly balls. 

Tim Foli will be quality control coach for Nats

Tim Foli is expected to be a quality control coach with the Nationals, according to manager Jim Riggleman.

Foli will be involved in batting practice before games and be an advisor to Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo. Foli, who is considered one of the best teachers in the organization, will also help develop players in the Minor Leagues.

“He is going to be with us,” Riggleman said. “He is going to be in my office. He is going to be in the clubhouse. He is going to communicate with my coaching staff. He is going to travel with us. We are going to have the best of both worlds. We are going to have his experience around us every day. It’s going to be like having an extra coach.”

Foli has managed in the Nationals’ Minor League system since 2005, working with prospects such as outfielder Roger Bernadina and shortstop Ian Desmond. The Nationals rewarded Foli this past season by making him an extra bench coach in September. Foli also interviewed for the managerial job that went to Riggleman.

Foli was not available for comment.

Nationals name coaching staff

The Nationals have retained hitting coach Rick Eckstein, pitching coach Steve McCatty and third base coach Pat Listach. The club also named John McLaren the bench coach, Jim Lett as bullpen coach and Dan Radison the first-base coach.

Eckstein returns for a second season in Washington, as his offense showed significant gains in 2009 in runs per game (+0.40 per game), home runs (+39), batting average (+.007), on-base percentage (+.014), slugging percentage (+.033) and OPS (+.047) compared to the previous season.

McCatty was named Nationals pitching coach on June 2. The Nationals’ Triple-A pitching coach for four seasons before being summoned to Washington, McCatty employed numerous pre-existing relationships with Nationals pitchers to help his staff post an ERA exactly one run better than that recorded in the season’s first two months (5.69 ERA from Opening Day-May 31, 4.69 ERA from June 2 through season’s end).

Listach will return for a second season as Nationals third-base coach. Last season, Listach’s judgment saw only 11 Nationals thrown out at home plate on non force-outs, a figure bettered by only the Cardinals (eight) in MLB.

With added responsibilities as the Nationals infield instructor, Listach had a hand in Ryan Zimmerman earning his first career Rawlings Gold Glove.

McLaren, 58, will draw on 22 seasons of big league coaching experience, including a stint as Mariners manager for portions of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He replaced Mike Hargrove as Seattle’s manager on July 2, 2007. While skippering the Mariners, McLaren hired Riggleman as his bench coach in 2008.

Lett, 58, will draw on 15 seasons of Major League coaching experience, 11 spent as a bench coach with the Reds, Blue Jays, Dodgers and Pirates. He served as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach from 2001-04, where he worked alongside Riggleman, who was Jim Tracy’s bench coach at the time.

Radison, 59, begins his third tour with Riggleman, as the two worked together during Riggleman’s managerial stays with the Padres and Cubs.. Outside of his stints with the Cubs and Padres, Radison has managed, coached or scouted for the Yankees, Cardinals and Mets organizations from 1984-2006.

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Stephen Strasburg has injured left knee [UPDATED]

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg has been scratched from Saturday’s start in the Arizona League Championship Game because a twisted left knee, suffered during a Phoenix Desert Dogs workout Thursday afternoon.

It marks the second time Strasburg was injured during the AFL season. A neck injury forced him to miss a start.

The injury is not considered serious. Strasburg reportedly hurt the knee while shagging fly balls. An MRI showed inflammation in the knee. As a precaution, Strasburg is scheduled to be examined Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles on Friday. 

Strasburg, who was the first overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, made in five starts, going 4-1 with a 4.26 ERA. He struck out 26 batters in 19 innings for the Desert Dogs.    

Davey Johnson named senior advisor to Mike Rizzo

The Nationals  named Davey Johnson as the senior advisor to the general manager Mike Rizzo. 

Johnson joins the Nationals after managing Team USA to a semi-finals berth in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Johnson managed or coached five Team USA professional squads since 2005, including the 2008 Olympic team that claimed the bronze in Beijing.

Johnson spent the summer of 2009 managing amateur players with the DeLand Suns of the Florida Collegiate Summer League.

Johnson skippered four big league teams — the Mets, Reds, Orioles and Dodgers — for 14 seasons, compiling a 1,148-888 (.564) record. In those 14 big league seasons, Johnson’s clubs finished first or second 11 times, including five division titles, one pennant and one World Championship earned with the Mets in 1986.

In 1997, Johnson was named American League Manager of the Year after guiding the Orioles to a 98-64 (.605) record. He was recently named one of 10 managers to be placed on the new Veterans Committee ballot for potential induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

As a player, Johnson hit .261 with 136 home runs and 609 RBI in 13 big-league seasons during a career that included a stint in Japan. Johnson was a four-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves, played in five post-seasons and earned a pair of World Series rings with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970. He is also the only player to have hit behind Hank Aaron and Japan’s all-time home run king, Sadaharu Oh.

Nats add McLaren, retain Eckstein, Listach, McCatty

The Nationals will soon announce that John McLaren will be Jim Riggleman’s bench coach and they have retained Rick Eckstein, Pat Listach and Steve McCatty as the hitting coach, third-base coach and pitching coach, respectively, according to a baseball source.

McLaren is best known for managing the Mariners for parts of the 2007 and ’08 seasons. Riggleman was his bench coach in ’08. McLaren was also on Lou Piniella’s coaching staffs when both were with the Reds, Mariners and Devil Rays.

Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo were not available for comment.  

As for Eckstein, Listach and McCatty, they come back for a second season with Washington. Under Eckstein, the Nationals ranked ninth in hitting [.258], while hitting 156 home runs and 685 RBIs.

Listach, who has managed in the Cubs system for several years, will continue be an infield instructor.

McCatty replaced Randy St. Claire in May and had a great relationship with the young pitchers such as John Lannan and Craig Stammen. McCatty is looking improve a pitching staff that had National League-worst 5.00 ERA.

The Nationals are looking to hire a first-base and bullpen coach. Marquis Grissom and Randy Knorr are not returning to the club. Knorr will be the manager of Double-A Harrisburg and Grissom has been offered a job to be the hitting coach at Triple-A Syracuse. It’s not known if he will accept the job.                

The Nationals not interested in Adam Everett

Contrary to published reports, the Nationals do not have interest in shortstop Adam Everett. A baseball source said the Nationals would rather spend their money on pitching..

While the Nationals like the defense Everett brings, they feel that he isn’t going to bring much offense to the table. He is a .238 lifetime hitter.

As of now, the Nationals are going with Ian Desmond at short and switch Cristian Guzman from short to second. The Nationals have not ruled out getting a veteran shortstop who can hit and play defense.                     

Nationals interested in John Lackey

The Nationals are one of several teams who have expressed interest in free agent right-hander John Lackey, according to a baseball source.

The team is reportedly in competition with the Angels, Red Sox, Yankees and Mets for his services.    

The Nationals are looking for an ace who can tutor pitchers such as John Lannan, Ross Detwiler and Stephen Strasburg. Washington has been looking for this type of pitcher since after the Trade Deadine. It ended up signing right-hander Livan Hernandez in late August. While he did a god job for the Nationals, it’s less than 50-50 that he will return to the club.  

Lackey, who is 31-years old, has played his entire eight-year career with the Angels. He has won 102 games and has averaged 187 innings per season. His best season was in 2007, when he went 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA with Los Angeles.

This is the second year in a row in which the Nationals are players for a big-name free-agent. The Nationals tried to sign Mark Teixeira last offseason, but he ended up with the Yankees.

Asked this past season, how the Nationals can convince a solid veteran pitcher to come to a team that has the worst record in the Major Leagues over the past two years, general manager Mike Rizzo said: “You have to show the veteran pitcher what the plan is, our plan for success, how we are built to perform at this level at this given time.

“We have to have a special type of veteran pitcher, who is willing to give of himself as a teacher and mentor type of guy. We have to get a team-oriented person, a person that is going to give his time and his knowledge. It’s not an easy task.

“We think with the additions of an Adam Dunn, a Josh Willingham and Nyjer Morgan, it’s going to attract some veteran players. These guys know what we are doing here. It’s all over the league where we are at and what we are trying to do. I think they can see this is the beginning of a good, exciting ballclub.”

Nationals show interest in Mike Gonzalez, Mark DeRosa

Looking to improve from this past season, the Nationals have expressed interest in reliever Mike Gonzalez and infielder/outfielder Mark DeRosa, according to two baseball sources. Both players are free agents. 

This past season, Washington had the worst bullpen in the Major Leagues, going a combined 24-39 with a 5.09 ERA and 33 saves. Gonzalez is a left-hander who can be a set-up man and a closer.

This past season Gonzalez played for the Braves and had one of his best seasons, appearing in 80 games and having and 2.92 ERA with 10 saves and 90 strikeouts. If he joined the Nationals, Gonzalez most likely would share the closer’s role with right-hander Mike McDougal, who is recovering from right hip surgery. McDougal is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

As for DeRosa, he can play the corner outfield positions and all four infield positions. This past season, he played mostly at third base, but that won’t happen if he played for the Nationals because Ryan  Zimmerman is a mainstay at the position. The Nationals mostly likely see DeRosa as a second baseman and right fielder.

DeRosa  is not bad with the bat either, hitting a combined .250 with 23 home runs and 78 RBIs with the Indians and Cardinals. His best season was with the Rangers in 2006, hitting .296 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs.

DeRosa started his career with the Braves and was drafted by Atlanta in 1996 when Stan Kasten was the team’s president. Kasten now has the same role with the Nationals.