April 2010

Storen promoted to Triple A Syracuse

The Nationals have promoted right-hander Drew Storen from Double A Harrisburg to Triple A Syracuse, according to the team’s farm director Doug Harris. Storen is expected to join Syracuse on Friday. 

Storen’s promotion comes after he saved four games and allowed a run in 9 1/3 innings for Harrisburg. At the rate Storen is going, Harris expects the right-hander to be in the big leagues sometime this season.

“We are working towards that,” Harris said about Storen going to the big leagues. “There isn’t specific date or timeline in mind. We have goals we want to accomplish. We are certainly preparing him for the Major Leagues.”

Storen was the 10th overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. He signed his first professional contract the day after being selected. Storen believes signing with the Nationals right away is the reason he is on the fast track to the big leagues. In a year-plus in professional baseball, Storen has a 1.75 ERA and struck out 60 batters in 45 1/3 innings.

“Signing early was crucial,” Storen said. “I wanted to get going and start playing. The experience that I had last year helped me out this year. I wanted to put myself in a situation where I could move quickly this year.”

A closer for all of his collegiate and professional career, Storen will not be in that role when he joins the big league team because right-hander Matt Capps has been productive, saving 10 games entering Friday’s action against the Marlins. That’s OK with Storen. He’s willing take any role out of the bullpen.

“It will be no different really. It’s just, what inning am I going in? I will still take the same approach,” Storen said. “I don’t want to give up a run whether I’m pitching in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning. The bullpen has done such a great job this year. It would be awesome for me to throw and help them out. They already have guys that could do that already. I’m willing to do whatever role they throw me in as long as I’m helping the team win.”

Morgan having problems stealing bases

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan is having problems stealing bases. He has been caught four times in nine attempts entering Monday’s action against the Cubs. 

Morgan hasn’t had this problem since his first professional season in the Pirates organization. In 2003, Morgan stole 26 bases, but was caught 17 times for Class A Williamsport.   

Morgan wonders if sliding feet first is preventing him from stealing bases consistently. During most of his career, Morgan has slid in head first.

The Nationals want him to slid feet first in order to prevent a hand injury. Last August, Morgan missed the final month of the season after breaking his left hand sliding head first into third base against the Cubs.

“Oh my God, this is killing me,” Morgan said. “I don’t know if it’s the feet-first slide. I haven’t been through [something like this]. I don’t have an answer for you. I just have to get it done and figure something out. I might have to go back to head-first [sliding].

“I’m not going to stop being aggressive. That’s my game. It’s one of those things where I have to figure it out. I’m running into outs. I have to make the adjustments. I have to keep going. I’m not going to stop. I have to understand when I should run and try to get there.” 

Dunn sees winning attitude in Nats

After the Nationals won their 10th game of the season on Sunday afternoon, first baseman Adam Dunn believes the Nationals can keep winning and surprise opponents for the rest of the season.

“This team didn’t lose 102 games. That was last year,” Dunn said. 

Dunn believes the winning attitude started during the offseason, when the Nationals made moves to improve the team. They signed free agents Matt Capps, Adam Kennedy and Ivan Rodriguez and traded for Brian Bruney during the offseason.

The front office moves then carried over onto the field during Spring Training even though the team went 10-20 during the exhibition season.
      
“It might sound kind of corny — seeing what the front office people did and seeing that everyone is tired of losing — [they brought] in some guys who can play,” said Dunn who drove in the game winning run against the Dodgers on Sunday. “The attitude in Spring Training was great. I don’t know any person on this team that don’t believe we can do some damage. I don’t mean just compete. I mean win.”
 
Dunn said the 2009 Nationals would have found a way to lose a game. In the ninth inning of Sunday’s game, Justin Maxwell made a diving catch to save the game. Dunn is not sure if Maxwell would have made that play last year.

“Last year, it might have gotten in the sun or clank off his glove,” Dunn said. “I think everybody just expects to win every single night. Last year, it seemed like what could go wrong, went wrong.

“This year, it’s not that way. I think we are making our own luck. Everything is so positive around here now. All the negative crap is pretty much behind us. We know what we have and its showing on the field.”

Bergmann outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse

Right-hander Jason Bergmann has cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse on Friday. Bergmann had a chance to opt for free agency, but wanted to stay in the organization.

Last week, the Nationals designated Bergmann for assignment. He had been inconsistent during his five years with the team. He was 12-24 with a 5.04 ERA in 155 games. This season, Bergmann gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings.

When reached by phone Friday afternoon, Bergmann said he expects to be back in the big leagues soon, but needs to be more consistent on the mound.

“I’ve grown up with the Nationals my whole career,” Bergmann said. “Obviously, I want to play in the Major Leagues. I’m confident in my abilities and I will be back with the Nationals. If no one wanted to pick me up, that’s fine. But I have a chance to go back down to Syracuse, do my best and come back up.” 

Nationals to host inaugural book drive

The Nationals will host their inaugural book drive Saturday, when they face the Dodgers. 

Fans may donate new elementary level books at the Center Field Gate or at the Community Desk, located behind Section 107, from gate opening through the bottom of the fourth inning.  

All books collected will be donated to Everybody Wins! DC, a non-profit organization which promotes children’s literacy by pairing students with reading mentors.

Nationals front office employees will participate in this program during their lunch hour with students at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in support of the teams’ literacy efforts.

In conjunction with the book drive, the Nationals will debut a new ballpark feature, the educational tour, offering the team’s youngest fans the opportunity to receive a baseball-styled private lesson covering history, math, science and physics.

The fun-filled tour is designed for children ages 7 through 12 and provides a behind-the-scenes look at Nationals Park and the game.

No surgery for Marquis; Bergmann placed on waivers

A day after learning that he has bone chips and inflammation in his right elbow, Nationals right-hander Jason Marquis found out that he will not need surgery. 

The news comes after Marquis flew to Cincinnati on Thursday to get a second opinion from Dr. Tim Kremchek, the Reds’ medical director.    

Marquis, who was given a cortisone shot, will not throw for seven to 10 days and then begin a throwing program soon thereafter. The Nationals are hoping that Marquis will be back on the mound in four to six weeks. 

The elbow injury may explain Marquis’ performance Sunday. He gave up seven runs and became the first starter in Nationals history to not record an out. Marquis threw 28 pitches, 13 strikes, in that tough start, and he has given up 19 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings for Washington this season.

“It’s hard to pitch with [bone chips] in the elbow,” said general manager Mike Rizzo. “He was probably trying to gut it out. In my opinion, [the injury] probably has something to do with his poor performance.”

Marquis threw bullpen sessions the two days following his last start, but his elbow became stiff by Tuesday night. Marquis informed the team Wednesday morning and had an MRI and an arthrogram. 

In other news, right-hander Jason Bergmann is currently on waivers. He could be outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse, become a free agent or taken by another team by Friday.

Last Thursday, the Nationals designated Bergmann for assignment. He had been inconsistent during his five years with Nationals. He was 12-24 with a 5.04 ERA in 155 games. This season, Bergmann gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings.

Marquis placed on DL with elbow soreness

The Nationals placed right-hander Jason Marquis on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with bone chips in his right elbow.

The team will recall right-hander Luis Atilano from Triple-A Syracuse after Thursday’s game, and he will make his Major League debut against the Dodgers the following day at Nationals Park.

The news comes three days after Marquis became the first starter in Nationals history to not record an out in a game. Marquis threw 28 pitches, 13 strikes, in that tough start, and he has given up 19 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings for Washington this season.

“It’s hard to pitch with [bone chips] in the elbow,” said general manager Mike Rizzo. “He was probably trying to gut it out. In my opinion, [the injury] probably has something to do with his poor performance.”

After Sunday’s game, Marquis insisted that he wasn’t injured. Even manager Jim Riggleman wondered if something was wrong.

“It’s an embarrassment, what I’m doing out there right now,” Marquis said on Sunday. “I have to find that answer quick. It’s just not happening right now. I don’t think there is anything behind the ball. I don’t feel any power, any feel of a release point to get the ball where I want it right now. I have to find a way to get it done. I don’t think my delivery is where I want it to be. I have no excuses. I just want to get it done. That’s all it comes down to.”

Marquis threw bullpen sessions the two days following his previous start, but his elbow became stiff by Tuesday night. Marquis informed the team Wednesday morning and had an MRI and an arthrogram. Marquis will see Dr. Tim Kremchek, the Reds’ medical director, for a second opinion.

“The trainer took a look at it and called our team doctor, and we got him in to get an MRI,” Rizzo said. “It showed there are some floating bodies in the elbow. We are going to get a second opinion.”

Atilano, 24, has pitched in two games for Triple-A Syracuse, and has given up two runs in 11 innings for the Chiefs. He was acquired from the Braves in 2006 for first baseman Daryle Ward. At the time of the trade, Atilano was recovering from elbow reconstruction, but he went a combined 9-8 with a 4.01 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse last season.

Nats allow 10 runs in first inning

A day after right-hander Livan Hernandez pitched a shutout, the Nationals found themselves behind, 10-0, after one-half inning against the Brewers on Sunday afternoon.

Washington right-hander Jason Marquis faced seven hitters and didn’t record an out as he gave up seven runs on four hits.

Marquis became the first starter in Nationals history to not record an out in a game. 
 
Reliever Miguel Batista didn’t fare any better as he gave up a grand slam to Craig Counsell to give the Brewers a 10-0 lead. It was Counsell’s third career grand slam.                  

English makes Major League debut

With two outs in the fourth inning and the Phillies leading, 5-1, on Monday at Nationals Park, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman decided to take left-hander John Lannan out of the game in favor of left-hander Jesse English.

It was English’s Major League debut and he was a bright spot in an 11-1 loss. He shutout the Phillies in 1 1/3 innings.

English entered the game with the bases and Ryan Howard stepping up to the plate. It took three pitches before Howard grounded out to second baseman Adam Kennedy to end the inning. English then retired the side in order in the fifth.

“I’m glad Riggs threw me in there. I felt good. I didn’t have any nerves. It was like another game,” English said. “It was the same game, but in a bigger [stadium]. I think it says a lot. They put me in that situation in Spring Training several times. I think they felt comfortable with me there.”

But playing in his first Major League game wasn’t the highlight of his day. His big moment came before the game when he met President Barack Obama.

“It was amazing just to see him and shake his hand. He is just a normal guy,” English said. “He said the oval office is smaller than [the clubhouse]. That was funny.” 

Starting lineups for Opening Day — Nats, Phils

Phillies
1. SS Jimmy Rollins
2. 3B Placido Polanco
3. 2B Chase Utley
4. 1B Ryan Howard
5. RF Jayson Werth
6. LF Raul Ibanez
7. CF Shane Victorino
8. C Carlos Ruiz
9. P Roy Halladay

Nationals
1. CF Nyjer Morgan
2. RF Willie Harris
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4. 1B Adam Dunn
5. LF Josh Willingham
6. 2B Adam Kennedy
7. C Ivan Rodriguez
8. SS Ian Desmond
9. P John Lannan 

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