March 2012

Nats’ Johnson satisfied with Zimmermann’s start

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann made his fourth start of the spring in a 5-1 loss to the Astros on Friday. He pitched five innings and allowed four runs on eight hits. Zimmermann threw 74 pitches, 51 strikes.

Manager Davey Johnson wasn’t concerned that Zimmermann gave up the four runs. The skipper just wanted Zimmermann to pitch five innings and get ready for Opening Day.

“The results weren’t that good, but he threw the ball well,” Johnson said. “He gave me five innings, which I wanted to see. Five innings is more important to me than the pitch count. He has one more start before the regular season starts. I like the way he is throwing. That’s the big thing.”

Zimmermann is expected to pitch the third game of a three-gane series against the Cubs on April 8th at Wrigley Field.

Injury reports on Morse, LaRoche, Ankiel

Nationals outfielder Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche are not expected to play in a Major League exhibition game for at least a week.

Morse, who has played just three game during the exhibition season, has a strained right lat [back] muscle. While he can swing a bat, he is not allowed to throw the baseball. Morse believes he will be ready for Opening Day.

As for LaRoche, he had an MRI recently and it revealed he has a bone bruise and cartilage sprain in his left foot. LaRoche is having problems running the bases. He, too, believes he will be ready for Opening Day.

“I really feel this is going to be put behind [me] shortly,” LaRoche said. “I’m going to give it a few days, go back to Minor League side, get a bunch of at-bats, where I don’t have to run the bases. As long as I’m seeing some pitches — I don’t care if it’s coming out of an 18-year old’s hand — I don’t want to fall a week behind as far as seeing live pitching.”

Outfielder Rick Ankiel had a full workout in front of manager Davey Johnson on Saturday and is expected to return to action Tuesday against the Mets. Ankiel has not played since March 9 because of a tight left hamstring.

Nats sign Nady to Minor League deal

The Nationals signed Xavier Nady to a Minor League deal recently. He will spend the entire Spring Training in Minor League camp and will start the season with Triple A Syracuse.

Nady is a person who can play the corner outfield positions and first and third base. When healthy, Nady can be a productive hitter. His last productive season was in 2008 when he hit a combined .305 with 25 home runs and 97 RBIs.

In two out of the next three years, Nady has had serious injuries. In 2009, he had Tommy John surgery and fractured his hand last season.

General manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals watched Nady work out in California before signing him to a contract.

“He will be on the Minor League side getting his swings in, trying to get into baseball shape and we’ll take it from there,” Rizzo said about Nady. “He has been an accomplished Major League player in the past. He is a versatile guy who could play several positions. He is a terrific guy to have in the clubhouse, a good presence, a Major League veteran and a guy who could swing the bat from the right side. He can play the four corner positions.”

Nats’ Jackson has rough outing against Tigers

Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson had a rough outing during an 11-7 loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

Jackson lasted four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, striking out three batters and walking three others. Jackson threw 71 pitches, 41 strikes.

Jackson felt he could have gone back for a fifth inning. Instead, Jackson ended up throwing 10 more pitches in the bullpen.

“The results weren’t really the greatest,” Jackson said. “The only thing I come away with is working on the walks. Everything else I could [deal with]. They had hits, a lot of them on the ground. They had a few hits in the air, but I’ll take my groundballs. I’ll take my chances in keeping the ball on the ground.”

Nats’ Morse, Ankiel, LaRoche still hurting

Nationals outfielders Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel and first baseman Adam LaRoche are not allowed to play in Major League exhibition games because of injuries, but they can still get at-bats on the Minor League field, according to manager Davey Johnson.

LaRoche continues to have a left foot problem and feels pain when he runs the bases. LaRoche hurt the foot while doing a baserunning drill last month.

Morse recently had an MRI and it revealed that he still has a strained right lat [back] muscle. Morse, who has played three exhibition games, can still swing a bat, but he can’t throw the baseball.

Ankiel continues to have left hamstring issues and has not played since March 9 against the Marlins.

Like with outfielder Bryce Harper earlier this week, Ankiel, Morse and Ankiel must work out in front of Johnson in order to play in an exhibition game.

“For this time of year, I’m cautious,” Johnson said. “My conversation with the trainer today was, ‘Ankiel, Morse and LaRoche: Treatment here [Space Coast Stadium], they can hit over there [Minor League Field] under your supervision.’ I’m going to be on the cautious side. We got a ways to go. Those guys don’t have to prove anything to me. My main concern is getting them ready. It depends on how quickly they recover.”

Nats extend working agreements with four Minor League affiliates

The Nationals have agreed on two-year player development contract extensions (2013-14) with Triple-A Syracuse, Double A Harrisburg, Class A Potomac and Class A Auburn on Friday.

The Syracuse Chiefs entered the International League in 1885 and have been a continuous member of the IL since 1961. Since becoming the Nationals’ top affiliate in 2009, the Chiefs are 215-212 (.504).

The Harrisburg Senators entered the Eastern League in 1987 and have been an affiliate of the Nationals franchise since signing on with the Montreal Expos in 1991. The Senators have reached the post-season each of the last two seasons and, at 300-268 (.528), are 32 games above .500 the last four seasons.

A Nationals affiliate since 2005, Potomac joined the Carolina League in 1984. Potomac has posted a stellar 368-324 (.532) record beginning in 2007. The P-Nats have reached the playoffs three times in the last four seasons and twice (2008, ’10) won the Mills Cup, which is awarded annually to the Carolina League champions.

In its first season in Washington’s chain, Auburn went 45-30 (.600) and claimed a Pinckney Division title before losing in the New York-Penn League Championship series.

“We could not be more pleased to make this commitment,” Rizzo said. “To make this announcement so early in the season speaks to how much we value our relationships and the environments cultivated by the good people in Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac and Auburn. We take our affiliate relations very seriously in Washington. They are a vital part of our family and we know that with time, these bonds will only strengthen.”

Nats’ LaRoche tested vs. Cardinals

Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was tested in the first inning of an 8-4 victory over the Cardinals on Monday afternoon.

With runners on first and third and one out, Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams hit a routine groundball to LaRoche, who softly threw the ball to catcher Jesus Flores. Yadier Molina was tagged out at the plate.

According to LaRoche, he didn’t have any problems with his left shoulder which was surgically repaired last year. LaRoche ended up going 0-for-2 with a walk in the game.

“I have a little more in the tank than that,” LaRoche said about the throw. “… If I need to rush something or throw across to third, I have a little more than that. The way it’s progressing, I think two weeks from now, it will be even better. I’m fine with that. That’s the way it is. But I think it will continue to get better. So far, no setbacks from the shoulder.”

LaRoche is still feeling some soreness in his left foot, but he said it’s better than it was a week ago.

“We have it wrapped up pretty tight,” LaRoche said. “I’m really hoping I don’t have to do this [wrapping the foot] forever. … But it’s good enough to play right now. … It’s not great turning, it’s not great running the bases yet, but a lot better than it was a week ago.”

Morse looking to play Monday vs. Cardinals

Nationals left fielder Michael Morse plans to return to action Monday as the designated hitter against the Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium.

Morse has missed the last eight games because of a right lat (back) strain. His biggest problem was throwing the baseball, but he was able to throw from 90 feet on Saturday.

However manager Davey Johnson seems to doubt that Morse can play, pointing out that Morse had a cortisone shot the same day he threw the baseball.

“Mikey Mo had a couple more shots. … Cortisone,” Johnson said. “He said he wanted to DH on Monday but I don’t see how. He’s probably going to be a little sore today because he had it done, I think, yesterday. We’ll see how he’s doing.”

Nats starting lineup for Monday evening

Here is Davey Johnson’s starting lineup against the Mets on Monday evening.

Roger Bernadina–LF
Stephen Lombardozzi–2B
Mark Teahan–3B
Chad Tracy–1B
Rick Ankiel–CF
Bryce Harper–RF
Jesus Flores–C
Xavier Paul–DH
Andres Blanco–SS
Left-hander John Lannan will be the pitcher followed by Craig Stammen, Ryan Perry, Waldis Joaquin, Rafel Martin and Atahualpha Severino.

Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is expected to pitch in a Minor League game on Monday as well.