June 2010

Hammer reaches personal milestone

Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham set a personal milestone in a 4-3 victory over the Royals on Tuesday night. He hit his 100th career home run against right-hander Anthony Lerew.

In the fourth inning, Willingham led off and took 1 -0 pitch and hit his 13th home run of the season to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead.

“It feels good,” Willingham said about his 100th home run. “First of all, we won the game tonight. Second of all, I never really set out to hit 100 home runs. It’s kind of cool to hit that many. It will probably be special later on as I look back in my career.”

Willingham ended up going 3-for-4 in the game and is now hitting .274 with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs, which is tied for the team lead.

Asked if this season is his best of his career, Willingham said, “That is to be determined. We’ll see what happens. We still have a lot of baseball to be played. Anything could happen — good or not so good.”

Twitter poll: Should Strasburg be considered for All-Star team?

I asked a question to my Twitter followers on Saturday: Do you think Nats right-hander Stephen Strasburg should be considered for the 2010 All-Star Game? Why?

Of the 50 people who responded, 43 of them said Strasburg should be considered, while nine said Strasburg should rest during the All-Star break. Two followers were not sure when the question was asked. Here is what some of the Twitter followers had to say.

@LetTeddyWin: They should plan his turn in the rotation around it.

@kevin_reiss: Strasburg should go, but not at the expense of Ryan Zimmerman.

@Natss9: He started only three games even though he has been outstanding. I would have to say no. Well, if he is this good after 7 games then yes!

@RedZou: No, let him rest him rest during the All-Star break. He’s good enough, but he’s ours.

@OlkinComm: No, not after only a few starts. Even if he were voted in, Nats shouldn’t send him. Why waste innings, risk injury?

@natsboy: No. Because A-S game should reward accomplishment, not talent. He will not have accomplished enough after 7 starts.

@mikecarlucci: Why not? The ASG is just as much a “who’s hot” as it is “who’s the best” and Strasburg is as hot as they come.

@jenjensn: Well, it is a popularity contest. He’s pretty popular.

@jypaulos: Not sure. He would add some interest, but I’m not sure he’s been in the Majors long enough to earn All-Star recognition.

@thebrowncoat: Absolutely. If he’s one of the best pitchers in the NL.  He deserves to be there.

@IND_Sports_Cubs: No, he’s had three starts. He has the talent but has not been an “All-Star” this year.

@DArkMEATHOOK: He’s a pitcher. He’s putting up good stats. He should be considered. Selected, probably not.

@robmille: if Strasburg keeps pitching like this, they should consider him — not for the starter, but he is pitching amazingly

@chrisduckworth: If the coaches select Strasburg, why not?

@TahlequahSports: I say no to Strasburg on the All-Star team only because of the limited amount of work. What about the guys with 10+ starts?

@Pauly360: Absolutely! People want to see him face the best hitters in the league. What better place than the All-Star Game?

@churchofbasebal: You have to be kidding me. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a long time. Get some perspective!

@IBALLZACH: Not just yet.  But if he keeps pitching like he is for a couple more starts then, yes, he should be considered.

@TheNatsBlog: If he keeps pitching this way from now on, of course.

@HendoDC: Yes, absolutely. Excellence should be recognized, and he’ll be a ratings draw.

@RealRedskins: Absolutely. If he’s one of the best pitchers, why not? 

Pudge hopes to play for Potomac on Monday

Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list because of a lower back strain, was able to hit in the cage and perform catching drills behind the plate without any problems.

Rodriguez plans to run the bases and take batting practice on the field Sunday. If things work out, Rodriguez hopes to play six innings for Class A Potomac on Monday and be behind the plate for Stephen Strasburg’s debut the next day.

Burke called up; Coste released; Maldonado on DL

The Nationals selected the contract of catcher Jamie Burke from Triple-A Syracuse and placed catcher Carlos Maldonado on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 4, with a left thumb fracture.

Additionally, the club unconditionally released catcher Chris Coste, who had Tommy John surgery a few weeks ago.

Burke went (5-for-18) with two doubles in six games with the Chiefs, after beginning the season on the DL with a leg knee injury. 

Maldonado, 31, has gone 3-for-11 (.273) with one home run and three RBIs in four games since his contract was selected by the Nationals on May 25.

Coste, 37, was acquired off waivers from the Mets on March 29 and has spent all season on the DL.

Hernandez fined $500 for arguing balls and strikes

After Friday’s 4-2 victory over the Reds, Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez told the Washington media that he was fined $500 earlier in the day for arguing Lance Berkman’s check swing, which occurred Tuesday against the Astros.

In the ninth inning, with the Nationals leading, 7-6, and two outs, the Nationals felt that closer Matt Capps struck Berkman out swinging on a 2-2 pitch, but third base umpire Bill Hohn said Berkman checked his swing. On the next pitch, Berkman singled to left field to drive in two runs and give the Astros an 8-7 victory.

Hernandez acknowledged that he argued the check-swing call in the dugout, but felt he should not have been fined.

“I said nothing. All I said was, it was a bad call and I get fined for 500 bucks,” Hernandez said. “I don’t think I’m going to pay for that because it was a bad call. [Berkman] swung. Everybody watched the video. The guy swung. The umpire made a mistake, not me. It’s not right. … Don’t fine me, fine the umpire. I didn’t make a mistake. We lost the game right there.”

Hohn was not available for comment. 

Pudge hopes to catch Strasburg on Tuesday

Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list because of a lower back strain, said he is feeling better. 

He is eligible to come off the DL on Monday, a day before right-hander Stephen Strasburg makes his Major League debut. However, Rodriguez may not be able to catch Strasburg on Tuesday night because of a possible rehab assignment with Class-A Potomac. Rodriguez said he is hoping he could have the rehab assignment Sunday or Monday.

“I just want to come back to the team, be a contributor and win games for the team,” Rodriguez said. “Of course, it’s going to be a big deal on Tuesday. My goal is not just to play Tuesday night and be behind the plate for [Strasburg]. It’s going to be a big night for him, the team and for the city of DC. 

“I would love to be on that stage, too. That’s why I’m doing this — all the preparation this weekend. But the most important thing is to be back in the lineup and contribute to the ballclub.”

Rodriguez said Saturday will be an important day for him. He is expected to arrive at Nationals Park at 1 p.m. ET, get back therapy, participate in live batting practice and do drills behind the plate. 

“Tomorrow is big day. I have a lot of things to do,” Rodriguez said.