July 2010

Nationals do not trade Dunn before deadline [updated]

WASHINGTON — The Nationals did not trade first baseman Adam Dunn before the non-waiver trade deadline. He came out of the trainer’s room at 4:05 p.m. ET — five minutes after the deadline — and went into the locker room to put on his baseball uniform before speaking to several members of the team’s ownership group. 

General manager Mike Rizzo stayed true to his word that he wanted a lot for Dunn, but opposing teams were not willing to give Washington what it wanted. Teams such as the Tigers, Rangers Rays, White Sox Yankees expressed interest in the left-handed hitting slugger. 

One thing was certain, the Nationals were not going to trade Dunn to the White Sox for right-hander Edwin Jackson, who is having a below average season. 

“The reason we didn’t trade Adam Dunn is that we never got a deal that we thought  was equal or greater value than Adam Dunn,” Rizzo said. “We were on the receiving end of the calls. We were not making the calls. We received a lot of interest in Adam. We didn’t see a equal return to what Adam Dunn brings to the ball club on and off the field.

“We were engaged right up to the last couple of minutes with some teams. Like I said, we just couldn’t come up with a deal I thought was good enough for the type of player Adam Dunn is.”

But Dunn pointed that he could be traded before the Aug. 31st waiver deadline. On Aug 14, 2008, the Reds traded Dunn to the D-backs for catcher Wilkin Castillo and a player to be named later, which turned out to be right-hander Micah Owings.

Deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded.

The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.

Dunn, who is a free agent after the season, is hoping to get a contract extension done before that date. He is looking to get a four-year deal, but is willing to listen to three-year offer.

“I am happy that I’m still here. I don’ know if a deal will get done, but I’m sure we will continue to work on it,” Dunn said.

Rizzo reiterated that he wanted to sign Dunn to an extension, but didn’t want to say how the negotiations were going.

“We are going to talk extension with Adam Dunn and his representative, but we are certainly not going to talk about it with the media,” Rizzo said. “Adam Dunn is a big part of our ballclub. We have shown that by not trading him for lesser value.”

Dunn would accept DH role — for now

Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn has made it known over the years that he doesn’t like to be a designated hitter.

If he is traded to an American League team before the non-waiver trade deadline, Dunn would most likely have to accept that role for the final two months of the season and that appears to be fine with Dunn.

“This is DHing for two months or whatever,” Dunn said. “It’s not like, if I make this move, it’s career ending.”

Strasburg to play catch this weekend

Look for Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg to play catch as early as Saturday or Sunday at Nationals Park, according to manager Jim Riggleman.

Strasburg was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday retroactive to July 22 because of shoulder stiffness. There is no timetable on when he will make his next start.

“I know that he has felt better each day,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “I think he feels very normal today. I don’t know how much better it’s going to feel. I don’t think he is going to know until he goes out and plays catch at this point.”

Strasburg most likely will travel with the Nationals to the West Coast starting Sunday night. They will play a four-game series against the Diamondbacks and then a play a three-game series against the Dodgers after that.

Severino promoted to big leagues

With closer Matt Capps traded to the Twins, the Nationals recalled left-hander Atahualpa Severino from Triple-A Syracuse.

Severino, 25, went 4-2 with one save and a 3.55 ERA in 40 relief appearances with the Chiefs. He pitched scoreless ball in 30 out of his 40 outings and posted a .237 batting average against including a stingy .205 (24-for-117) mark against right-handed batters.

In six professional seasons, Severino is 26-13 with 21 saves and a 2.97 ERA in 169 games/20 starts. He has tallied 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings (351 K/327.1 IP) during his career.

Severino most likely will be middle reliever out of the bullpen.

Guzman traded to Rangers for prospects

The Nationals have traded infielder Cristian Guzman to the Rangers for pitching prospects Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark.

According to general manager Mike Rizzo, the trade is expected to be approved by the league office by Saturday. Guzman is a 10-and-5 player — 10 years in the big leagues and five years with the same club — and needed to approve the trade. He already packed his belongings in the Nationals’ clubhouse.

“Guzzie was upbeat and positive,” Rizzo said. “He obviously had to OK the trade, because he had 10-5 rights. It’s not an official trade until the paperwork goes through. In 24 hours, it will be official by the Commissioner’s Office.”

Guzman, 32, is making $8 million in the final year of his contract this season. It is unclear whether or not the Nationals are taking on some of his remaining prorated salary.

Guzman, an original member of the Nationals, was hitting .282 with two home runs and 25 RBIs this season. He played most of the year at second base after playing his first 11 seasons in the Majors at shortstop.

With the Rangers, Guzman will initially play every day at second base because of an injury to Ian Kinsler. Once Kinsler returns to action, Guzman will be a utility player.

Guzman is a free agent after the season, and the Nationals were not going to give him an extension. Guzman’s best season in Washington was in 2008, when he hit .316 with nine homers and 55 RBIs.

“We decided to move Cristian to the Rangers,” Rizzo said. “They needed an infielder with Kinsler going down. We have two good young Double-A prospects that will help our inventory — two starting candidates. It’s a trade — veteran player for prospects.”

With Guzman gone, the Nationals are going to have a platoon at second base between Adam Kennedy and Alberto Gonzalez. Kennedy, who started the season as the everyday second baseman and lost his job to Guzman by May, is hitting .252 with two homers and 17 RBIs.

Gonzalez has a .294 batting average with three RBIs in 67 games. He was given a chance to become the everyday second baseman last year, but he fell short, ending the season hitting .265 with a home run and 33 RBIs.

After the season comes to an end, trying to acquire a second baseman will be a top priority for the Nationals. There is a possibility that the team could go with Danny Espinosa by late next year.

In Tatusko, the Nationals get a highly touted pitching prospect. He has served as a starter and reliever, going 9-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 24 games — 13 starts — for Double-A Frisco.

Roark also played for Frisco, going 10-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 22 games — 17 starts.

Tatusko and Roark will not be ready for the big leagues until possibly 2012.

Lannan to replace Strasburg in rotation

The Nationals have decided that left-hander John Lannan will replace right-hander Stephen Strasburg in the rotation. Lannan, 25, will pitch Sunday against the Phillies.

It will be Lannan’s first big-league start since June 20th against the White Sox. In that game, he allowed five runs in four innings and was demoted to Double-A Harrisburg the next day. The Nationals believe that Lannan lost his confidence before the demotion.

At the time of his demotion, Lannan was 2-5 with a 5.76 ERA in 14 starts. His biggest problem was getting left-handed hitters out. They are 28-for-75 [.373] with two home runs and nine RBIs against him this season.

After his demotion, Lannan was inconsistent, going 1-4 with a 4.20 ERA for Harrisburg. 

Lannan, who was Washington’s Opening Day starter, will have the tough task of facing a Phillies team that gave him fits on Opening Day. Lannan allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 11-1 loss to the Philadelphia. 

Capps traded to Twins for Ramos, Testa [updated]

The Nationals have traded closer Matt Capps, the team’s lone All-Star representative, and cash to the Twins for catcher Wilson Ramos and left-hander Joe Testa.

Capps played his last game for Washington on Thursday afternoon and picked up his 26th save of the season as the Nationals defeated the Braves, 5-3.

Capps, 26, came to the Nationals this past offseason as a free agent, signing a one-year, $3.5 million contract. He helped improved a bullpen that was one of the worst in baseball last year. 

When reached by phone, Capps was packing his suitcase and headed to Minnesota on Friday morning.

“I have a lot of emotions going on,” Capps said. “My concern is just getting everything ready, getting where I need to be and making sure that my wife is taking care of – making sure that everything is not thrown on her shoulders.”

Capps said  he enjoyed his time with the Nationals, who signed him after he was non-tendered by the Pirates last December.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to go and play in the playoffs,” Capps said. “Right now, I’m saddened I’m leaving  group of guys and the people in the Washington organization. They have been classy from the get go. When everything happened in December, when the Pirates non-tendered me,  it was  an empty feeling.

“The Washington Nationals and everyone involved has been absolutely phenomenal. It’s something that I will remember for  long time. I certainly enjoyed my time. Now, I have to focus on moving forward and helping the Minnesota Twins.”

Capps said he spoke to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and there wasn’t any indication if Capps was going to be the team’s closer. Right-hander Jon Rauch is currently the ninth-inning person.

With Capps gone, the Nationals will split the closer’s duties between Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen. Clippard and Storen were setup men, while Burnett was a situational lefty before the trade.

“I think that we have a lot of guys who are capable of filling Matt’s shoes,” Clippard said before the trade. “Matt as done well this year and meant a lot to our team. You don’t want to see him go.”

Ask if he and Storen could do the job as a closer,” Clippard said, “I think so. No doubt. I know Drew did it in the past in college. Myself, I feel I got a little taste of it earlier in the year. I got a save. I feel it would be role I would want to try to take over and see if I could do that.”

The Nationals are hoping to have Ramos, 22,  for  long time. The Nationals get one of the best catching prospects. He made his Major League debut this year for Minnesota and was 8-for-27 [.296] with an RBI.

Before the trade, Ramos was currently playing for Triple-A Rochester, hitting .241 with five home runs and 30 RBIs. Ramos will most likely go to Triple-A Syracuse.

The Nationals are in need of catching depth because Jesus Flores has missed the entire season because of a right shoulder injury and there isn’t a timetable on when he will return to the big leagues. He has dealt with this injury since May of  2009 when he was hit by foul tip off the bat of D-backs outfielder Chris Young.

Washington’s other catching prospect, Derek Norris, has also missed a lot of time because of injuries. He still needs to work on his game behind the plate.

As for Testa, he is a reliever and was a combined 2-5 with a 5.86 ERA for Class A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain.

According to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, Testa, 24, has a fastball-cutter combination with some success. In his career, he’s got a 10.7 strikeout-per-nine ratio, with 196 K’s in 165 total innings. 

Miss Iowa to throw out first pitch at Nats Park

Katherine Connors, Miss Iowa 2010, will throw the ceremonial first pitch Friday before the Nationals face the Phillies at Nationals Park.

The invitation was coordinated after Nationals right-hander Miguel Batista replaced rookie Stephen Strasburg and pitched five shutout innings.

After receiving a round of boos from the fans after it was learned that Strasburg wasn’t making his scheduled start, Batista said he understood why the fans were not happy to see him pitch.

“Imagine if you go there to see Miss Universe and you end up having Miss Iowa. You might get those kind of boos,” Batista said. “But it’s OK. They have to understand that as an organization, we have to make sure that the kid is fine. You don’t want to expose him out there.”

Batista said his words were taking out of context and he told his attorney to send flowers to Connors.

“The way I said it wasn’t the way it was interpreted,” Batista said. “What I meant was the person that you listen to is Miss Iowa, and you go, ‘Oh, here you go.’ When you take a look at the woman, you go, ‘Hold on: She is from Iowa, but she is gorgeous.’

“That’s what I want people to see. I walked to the mound and people started booing. They haven’t see me throw a pitch. It’s like the same thing. You go to see Miss Universe and you get Miss Iowa. You want to turn around and you see the woman and you say, ‘Hello.’ Miss Iowa is a really pretty woman, very beautiful.”

Batista plans to meet with Connors in person before Friday’s game and will serve as the catcher for her first pitch.

“I have to find out if she can be accurate or very wild when she throws, so I have to be careful. If she thinks I’m going to be practicing the swimsuit and the high heels, not a chance,” Batista said. “She beat me already because I’m not even going to try. I think the Nationals uniform is good enough.

“They’re making a lot of news about this, hopefully by the end of the day, when she goes back to Iowa, she’ll say something good about us,” Batista said. “[Hopefully she'll say], ‘Hey, he was a cool guy. He looks like a low-budget Vin Diesel, but he’s nice. Hopefully we’re going to show her the best of Washington, and she can have a good time.” 

Strasburg placed on 15-day disabled list [Updated]

The Nationals have placed right-hander Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day disabled list because of right shoulder stiffness and activated left-hander Scott Olsen, who is pitching against the Braves on Thursday afternoon.

Strasburg, 22, will not throw for the next three or four days, and his right shoulder will be reevaluated by the team after that.

However, Strasburg said his shoulder feels a lot better than it did on Tuesday, when he was scratched from his start against the Braves, but he would not say when he would make his next start. Strasburg indicated that he was hurting the previous two days.

Reliever Miguel Batista made the spot start for Washington and delivered a brilliant effort, throwing five scoreless innings in his first start of the season as the Nationals shut out Braves, 3-0.

“It’s what’s best for the team,” Strasburg said about going on the DL. “Obviously having Miguel Batista as a reliever, we’re going to need him in the bullpen. We can’t really rely on him to go out there and start. I’m just going to keep working hard, and when they activate me, I’ll be ready to go.

“They’re taking every precaution with me, It’s doing great already, making big strides, so [I'll] just keep getting better, keep getting stronger and when the time comes, I’m going to be ready to go.”

With Strasburg not pitching Sunday against the Phillies, the team has to decide who will take his place.

One thing is certain, right-hander Jason Marquis will not pitch on three days’ rest like Ross Detwiler did Sunday against the Brewers. Marquis pitched Wednesday, allowing four runs in five innings for Triple-A Syracuse.

It also appears that right-hander Livan Hernandez will not pitch on short rest after throwing just 4 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits against the Braves on Wednesday.  

However, left-handers John Lannan and Matt Chico are candidates to make the start. Lannan is having an up-and-down season in the Minor Leagues. In seven starts for Double-A Harrisburg, Lannan is 1-4 with a 4.20 ERA.

Chico is having a solid season in the Minor Leagues, going a combined 6-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 19 starts for Harrisburg and Syracuse.

The Nationals could also go back to Batista. As of Thursday afternoon, Batista was not told if he would start against the Phillies.

Nats need starter for Sunday

With Stephen Strasburg not pitching Sunday against the Phillies, the team has to decide who will take his place.

One thing is certain, right-hander Jason Marquis will not pitch on three days’ rest like Ross Detwiler did Sunday against the Brewers. Marquis pitched Wednesday, allowing four runs in five innings for Triple-A Syracuse.

It also appears that right-hander Livan Hernandez will not pitch on short rest after throwing just 4 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits against the Braves on Wednesday.  

However, left-handers John Lannan and Matt Chico are candidates to make the start. Lannan is having an up-and down- season in the Minor Leagues. In seven starts for Double-A Harrisburg, Lannan is 1-4 with a 4.20 ERA.

Chico is having a solid season in the Minor Leagues this season, going a combined 6-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 19 starts for Harrisburg and Syracuse.

The Nationals could also go back to right-hander Miguel Batista, who pitched five shutout innings in Strasburg’s place on Tuesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, Batista was not told if he would start against the Phillies.

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