September 2010

Zimmerman wants to win, but understands process

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played with the Nationals since late 2005 and watched the team finish in sixth place every year except for 2007.

While he doesn’t like to lose, Zimmerman said he understands that the Nationals are trying to build a team through the farm system.

“Nobody like losing, but it’s a process here,” Zimmerman said. “We have a young team. It’s hard to compete day in and day out with teams that have veteran guys. We are learning here. Do I think we have enough to win? Of course.

“A lot of these guys are learning to play every day in the big leagues. It’s not an easy place to learn. It’s a hard thing to learn how to be consistent and be successful every day. It’s a fun team to be on because I get to watch it happen like I had to go through. We are in that process now. Nobody likes to lose.” 

Nationals make two sparkling defensive plays

The Nationals are one of the worst defensive teams in baseball this season, but they made two sparkling gems during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Marlins.

In the fifth inning, with runners on first and third, two outs and Nationals right-hander Jason Marquis on the mound, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison hit a shot up the middle that looked like a base hit. But second baseman Danny Espinosa made a great diving play and threw out Morrison for the final out of the inning.

“That was great play,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “The range to get it and then the arm to finish it off was tremendous. I don’t know what more you could do there.”

A natural shortstop, Espinosa sounded like a person who doesn’t need to make adjustments at second base. Espinosa didn’t start playing the position until after the All-Star break.

“I’m trying to feel more comfortable everyday over there to make my routine plays. It makes me feel better,” Espinosa said. 

In the sixth inning, the Nationals were able to turn a great double play. With no outs and a runner on first, Dan Uggla hit what looked like a routine groundball to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who booted the ball, but manage to throw out Uggla at first base. 

At the same time, Hanley Ramirez didn’t stop at second and decided to go to third. Luckily for the Nationals, shortstop Ian Desmond was covering third as first baseman Adam Dunn threw out Ramirez for the double play.

“I saw that he didn’t stop at second,” Desmond said about Ramirez. “I just knew to run to third. That’s the way they teach you to do it. I ran to third, hoping that Dunn was going to throw it and he did.”

White dismissed by Nationals

Former Major Leaguer Devon White told that he was dismissed as the Nationals’ outfield and baserunning coordinator. He was given the news Thursday by farm director Doug Harris. No reason was given as to why White is no longer working for the Nationals. 

White didn’t express any bitterness toward the organization and hopes to work in baseball in the near future. Besides working in the Minor Leagues, White sometimes worked on the Major League side, helping outfielders such as Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes.

After the 2008 season, Washington offered White the first-base coaching job, but he turned it down.  




Twitter Poll: Is Desmond ROY candidate?

On Monday, I asked my Twitter followers the following question: Should Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond be considered a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2010? Yes or No. Why?

Seventeen followers said no because Desmond has made 31 errors this season, while 13 others believe he should considered a Rookie of the Year candidate. Here is what the followers had to say.

@CDublin: No, only because the National League is so stacked with rookies this year. Plus, Desmond has way too many errors.

@Sultan_of_Stat: Yes to being considered, he’s had a great rookie season. His defensive growing pains will keep him from winning though.

@bart__davis: He will get well deserved votes, but too many errors. Great young player.

@seanhoganVT: No. Desmond is having a decent year, but he’s nowhere near the level of Buster Posey or Jason Heyward.

@UnkleWheez: Yes. His batting average is sixth best among NL shortstops  and he plays good defense. The errors hurt but they are “good” errors.

@thebrowncoat: No. Defense, Defense, Defense hasn’t been good enough.

@junebugskippin: He should be considered but will ultimately lose to Cubs SS Starlin Castro

@BYSchwartz: Danny Espinosa should be a candidatešŸ˜€

@SodaPop6548: Heck yes! Ian Desmond has been great at the plate and his D has been getting a lot better. Desi is going to be an All Star!

@kalamazooapples: Desmond a candidate? Maybe, but I wouldn’t vote for him over Starlin Castro of the Cubs. And, I truly don’t like the Cubs.

@tbridge: With 31 E’s, so far, I’d say no. Plus batting numbers. 

@Evolution33: No. Any other year and yes, but this has been beyond an excellent year for rookies.

@R1cketyCr1cket: A candidate? Sure, assuming you need one from every team like the All Star game. Should he win? Of course not.

@jcj5y: If he finishes strong, I’d vote him fourth or fifth. Posey should win.

@gregyoung3: Simply for the reason that he’s leading the league in errors and there are much better candidates out there.

@bobbyoler: No. Thirty-one errors, don’t care how much potential you have, that’s egregious. Danny Espinosa may be in the running next year though.  

@LPags03: How many errors does he have? Definitely  not rookie candidate to me. I think he’ll have a solid career, but first season has been rocky.

@misschatter: I agree with @LPags03 — too many errors. 

@mikekruger: Considered? Sure. Win? No way. Too many errors.

@rickyh17: Yes. His errors are hard to ignore but his many good defensive plays and offensive impact, especially of late, is also hard to ignore. 

@HendoDC: No. He’ll be a good defender some year, but this year isn’t the case. Heyward would be my first choice with Posey second. 

@AlanClaffie: Desmond needs way better defense to earn any semi-serious accolades, so no ROTY vote from me.

@Jeffrey_Bergin: Absolutely. His production with RISP and the fact he has played a demanding position all season. He won’t win, but top 5.

@md_schmidt: Yes. Mainly based on results at plate and on base paths. Fielding struggles will keep him from winning ROY, however.

@BuryMeInEngland: Insane idea. He has 31 errors so maybe he can get “most individual errors in a year” award.

@jtshiffman: No. If it was only based on hitting than yes, but he has made too many fielding errors.

@CapitolBaseball: No for Desmond. Despite great second half, just look at the errors. Total disqualifier.

@ind_sports_cubs: Not at all. Have you heard of Starlin Castro?

@szul: Yes. His offensive numbers match up well with any contender. His defense will obviously hurt his contention though.  

@MikeHill: YES! He’s an Iron Man.

Jewett to join Nationals this week

Triple A Syracuse manager Trent Jewett will join the Nationals on Tuesday as an extra coach. The Nationals are rewarding Jewett for guiding the Chiefs to a 75-66 record.

Syracuse was eliminated from playoff contention with an 8-2 loss to the Rochester Red Wings on Saturday night.

Jewett is best known for being a managerial candidate after the Nationals dismissed Frank Robinson as their skipper in 2006. The job eventually went to Manny Acta.

Flores done for 2010, will play in Instructional League

Nationals catcher Jesus Flores told on Friday night that he will not play a Major League Game in 2010, but will play in the Instructional League this fall.

The news means that Flores has missed almost two full Major League seasons because of right shoulder problems.

“It’s not a secret that I had shoulder surgery, which is hard to recover from,” Flores said via telephone. “But I’m still ahead of schedule. This type of surgery takes 12 to 16 months, so it’s only a year after surgery.”

Flores hurt the shoulder on May 9, 2009, when he was hit by a foul tip off the bat of D-backs outfielder Chris Young 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 Sept. 4 and made two pinch-hitting appearances.

However, he was sent to Alabama after complaining of shoulder soreness and ended up having right labrum surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews.

The good news is that Flores is taking hitting practice and throwing to the bases without any problems.

“I’m feeling good,” Flores said.”The reason I didn’t play in the big leagues [in September] is because I didn’t … have time to get into [game] shape. I’m throwing to the bases and I’m feeling great. The shoulder is really doing well.”

Flores is not sure if he will play Winter Ball, but he plans to be an All-Star catcher for the Nationals in 2011.

“I feel stronger and my goal right now is to  get in shape, feel 100 percent and get ready for next season,” he said.

Morgan not happy about suspension

Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan was given an eight-game suspension for a series of  incidents this week.

On Wednesday night, during a 16-10 loss to the Marlins, Morgan charged the mound in the sixth inning and threw a punch at Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad, who threw a pitch behind the left-handed hitter. It marked the second time Volstad threw a pitch at Morgan. Two innings earlier, Volstad hit Morgan in the lower back. Morgan went on to steal two bases in the inning even though Washington was down, 14-3.

The Marlins had a problem with Morgan dating back to Tuesday’s game, when he barreled into catcher Brett Hayes, who suffered a separated shoulder on the play.

Morgan was also disciplined for two other incidents. He made inappropriate comments toward the Marlins fans during the 10th inning on Tuesday. Morgan acknowledged that he did make inappropriate comments.

Last Saturday against the Cardinals, it looked like Willie Harris’ hit a bases-clearing knock, but third-base umpire Angel Hernandez called Morgan out, because a live baserunner cannot be touched or aided by a teammate or coach. Ivan Rodriguez pushed Morgan back to home plate when Morgan missed the plate while trying to knock Bryan Anderson down.

The replay showed there wasn’t a need for Morgan to touch Anderson, because the ball wasn’t close to the plate.

“It was totally inexcusable,” manager Jim Riggleman said last Sunday. “It was a mistake. I can’t minimize it. If I take the approach that there is nothing wrong it, then we are going to get people hurt on the field. It has never happened before and it will not happen again.”

Riggleman believed Morgan wasn’t thinking because he was angry that he was hitting eighth in the lineup. Morgan has spent most of the season as the lead-off hitter. 

The eight-game suspension does not include the seven-games suspension he received on last week for hitting a fan with a thrown ball at Citizens Bank Park.

Morgan is planning to appeal both rulings. His hearing was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but it was pushed back to next Friday, a few hours before the Nationals play the Marlins.

Morgan said he didn’t know about his latest suspension until told him over the phone. He believes he didn’t do anything wrong.

“Man, they threw the book at me.” Morgan said “What did I do? I feel I haven’t done anything. They are blowing this way out of proportion because I’m a hard-nosed player — because I knocked over a catcher. They throw the ball at me. Come on, what am I supposed to do? I have to take this and try to keep playing.

“I feel I haven’t done  anything wrong expect for playing the game hard and play the game like it’s supposed to be played. Wow. I don’t know what else to say. It’s just a fact that people are blowing this way out of proportion. I don’t think you should be suspended for hitting a catcher. … I don’t understand what I did wrong to get an eight-game suspension. They make it seem like I’m Mike Tyson.”

Morgan gets new hearing date; Listach gets three-game suspension

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan has received word that his hearing with the league office has been pushed back from Tuesday to next Friday, according to a baseball source. The hearing will take place hours before the Nationals play the Marlins. 

Morgan is currently appealing a seven-game suspension for hitting a fan with a thrown ball at Citizens Bank Park. He most likely will talk to the league office about the fracas with the Marlins during a 16-10 loss on Wednesday night.

Morgan charged the mound in the sixth inning and threw a punch at Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad, who threw a pitch behind the left-handed hitter. It marked the second time Volstad threw a pitch at Morgan. Two innings earlier, Volstad hit Morgan in the lower back. Morgan went on to steal two bases in the inning even though Washington was down, 14-3.

The Marlins had a problem with Morgan dating back to Tuesday’s game, when he barreled into catcher Brett Hayes, who suffered a separated shoulder on the play.

In other news, Nationals third-base coach Pat Listach received a three-game suspension for his involvement in the brawl between the Nationals and the Marlins, according to another baseball source.

The video showed Listch going into the pile trying to protect Morgan. Listach didn’t return a phone message.



Twitter poll: Who was wrong in brawl between Nats vs. Fish?

About 20 minutes after the Nationals and Marlins found themselves in a brawl on Wednesday night, I asked my twitter followers this question: Who do you think was at fault when it comes to the brawl between the Nats and Marlins? Nyjer Morgan or Chris Volstad? Why? Here’s what the followers had to say.

@eenyy820: Tough to say. On one hand, the Fish were up 15-5 and Volstad threw behind him. On the other hand, Morgan gotten negative publicity and charged the mound

@khillock: Morgan! He should expect retaliation for the nonsense he’s been pulling. He looks like he’s searching for trouble.

@DCyetti: I agree RT @Section222 Olsen is at fault. If the game wasn’t a blowout, Marlins wouldn’t have thrown at Nyjer a second time.

@tradepolicyguy: Volstad for throwing behind Morgan. No reason to escalate it

@junebugskippin: It takes two to tango

@cheist: Volstadt…No question. Nyjer had already been hit once

@TheNatsBlog: Nyjer Morgan. Walk away

@ShakyKnee: Volstad and the Marlins. Bean him once ok, but he never broke a rule. Played the game hard in my mind.

@tommyalanson: Come on, it’s Nyjer. I’m glad that clown got clothes lined. He knew they’d be going after him after that bad hit on their catcher.

 @CapitolBaseball: Nyjer. Way too many incidents in the last two weeks to justify that behavior. But realistically, both share some responsibility.

@TheRealAdamGee: Nyjer Morgan is at fault. He didn’t need to go and steal those two bases.

@TheNinerInsider: Nyjer Morgan. He’s pushing everybody’s buttons lately.

@thebrowncoat: You don’t throw behind a guy, but Nyjer was asking for it. Stealing those bases — you knew it was coming.

@jpminter: Volstad shouldn’t have thrown at him the second time.

@TigersScorecard: Morgan for sure. You’re running into catchers on purpose, you better expect a pitch behind you. This is baseball. Keep your cool.

@UnkleWheez: Nyjer, He stole bases after being hit and just doesn’t get it.

@szul: Both. But Morgan’s going to get the bulk of the blame from the press.

@M_OMalley: Volstad. You can’t spend the entire game wrapped up in retaliation. You have to let things roll off your back once in a while.

@CraigMac: Both. Nyjer has an attitude problem and needs anger management. Volstad needs to follow the code — once he is hit, it’s over.

@kevin_reiss: Volstad shouldn’t have thrown behind Nyjer, especially after hitting him earlier. But Nyjer set himself up for this.

@natsnq: Volstad already plugged Nyjer.Why do it twice except to do it with malice? Nyjer should have socked him harder in the head.

@SodaPop6548: Volstad hit three batters tonight. If Morgan had gotten hit just once it wouldn’t have happened. The Marlins instigated it.

@KimCinAZ: Morgan because he’s brought this on this series.

@welovedcsports: I gotta say both. Nyjer brought it on by stealing second and third, but Volstad threw behind him. Twice in one game? Seems a bit much.

@Bill_Busch: Morgan at fault. Stealing the bases down 11 was bush league.

@dvillavicencio6: Morgan has been looking for a fight for about a week now.

@bart__davis: Both. Stupid baseball bravado.

@RealMurphy: They had both had the opportunity to act like men, but they both chose to act like selfish children.

@AJGibbs: Riggleman is the one to blame. Control your center fielder. Stealing bases down by 10 runs. He put his teammates in danger tonight.

@rolmeda: If you’re manager had acted instead of coddling/excusing bully Nyjer, none of it would have happened

@nat_meg: Volstad’s for sure. The message only needed to be sent once, and he did that by plunking Nyjer in the ribs. Should Nyjer have retaliated? Absolutely not. In some ways, they both deserved it, but the fault is Volstad’s for enabling.