April 2013

White Sox’s Dunn happy to be back in Washington

On Tuesday afternoon, White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn was back at Nats Park for the first time since Sept. 29, 2010, when he was a member of the Nationals.

At first glance, Dunn looks comfortable in familiar surroundings, messing with his chewing tobacco and talking to the media about his time with the Nationals. He played for Washington for two years and was one of their best hitters, hitting .264 while averaging 38 home runs and 104 RBIs.

“It’s great to be back. I love the ballpark, I love the city , I love the fans. I have a lot of really good friends on the team, so it’s good to see those guys,” Dunn said. “I loved every single day that I was here. This is a great place to play, from the front office to the clubhouse guys. I haven’t seen a lot of these guys in a long time.”

Before taking batting practice, Dunn was seen having pleasant conversations with principal owner Mark Lerner, general manager Mike Rizzo and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

When Dunn was with Washington, the Nationals were one of the worst teams in basebal, but within two years they became National League East champions.

“It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the team was going to be pretty good in the near future,” Dunn said. “You just didn’t know it was the very, very, very near future. It was a matter of time. The talent speaks for itself. The Nationals had a plan, they stuck with the plan. Everything has worked out pretty much like it should have. That’s a complement to Rizzo with the way he has handled everything.”

Dunn became a free agent after the ’10 season. The Nationals had a three-year offer on the table for months, but Dunn did not accept. He wanted a four-year deal and was able to get one with the White Sox. The Nationals replaced Dunn with Adam LaRoche, who was the Nationals’ MVP last year.

“It wasn’t my choice. I didn’t leave. I had to move on. I think it worked out pretty good for both sides,” Dunn said.

Dunn has a .185 career average with the White Sox. His worst year was .2011, when he hit .159 with just 11 home runs. He declined to say what wrong that year, but he sees a difference between the American League and the National League.

“Pitching is pretty good in the American League, from top to bottom. When you get into the bullpen in the American League, that’s where I see the big difference,” he said.

Sunday’s starting lineup for Nationals, Reds

Nationals
Denard Span — CF
Jayson Werth — RF
Bryce Harper — LF
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Chad Tracy — 1B
Ian Desmond –SS
Danny Espinosa — 2B
Kurt suzuki — C
Stephen Strasburg — P

Reds
Shin-Soo Choo — CF
Xavier Paul — LF
Joey Votto — 1B
Brandon Phillips — 2B
Jay Bruce — RF
Todd Frazier — 3B
Zack Cozart — SS
Ryan Hanigan — C
Johnny Cueto — P

Starting lineups for Nationals, Reds

Nationals
Denard Span — CF
Jayson Werth — RF
Bryce Harper — LF
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Adam LaRoche — 1B
Ian Desmond –SS
Danny Espinosa — 2B
Kurt suzuki — C
Dan Haren — P

Reds
hin-Soo Choo — CF
Chris Heisey — LF
Joey Votto — 1B
Brandon Phillips — 2b
Jay Bruce — RF
Todd Frazier — 3B
Zack Cozart — 2B
Ryan Hanigan — C
Homer Bailey — P

McCartney coming to Nats Park

Paul McCartney announced Friday that he will perform at Nationals Park on July 12, 2013 as part of the “Out There” World Tour.

Tickets and parking will go on sale to the general public on April 12 at 10 a.m., online at nationals.com/McCartney and by phone at 888.632.6287. The show will be held rain or shine and will be promoted by Live Nation.

“It’s an honor to welcome Sir Paul McCartney to Nationals Park,” said Andrew Feffer, COO of the Washington Nationals. “Although he is no stranger to D.C., we are excited for his return to the Nation’s Capital to showcase his legendary music and put on a one-of-a-kind show for the fans.”

It was nearly 50 years ago when McCartney made his first trip to Washington for the Beatles’ first ever U.S. concert in 1964 at the Washington Coliseum.

Previous concerts held at Nationals Park include sold-out performances by Elton John and Billy Joel in July 2009; Dave Matthews Band featuring Zac Brown Band in July 2010; and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band on September 14, 2012.

Paul McCartney’s “Out There” tour will feature brand new, never before seen production and, as ever, hours of material from the most beloved catalog in popular music, with Paul performing songs spanning his entire career as a solo artist, member of Wings and, of course, The Beatles. The “Out There” tour will see Paul and his band travel the world throughout the year, visiting both places of historical significance to Paul and new spots for the very first time.

Young back with Nationals

Almost two weeks after he opted out of his contract and was given his unconditional release, right-hander Chris Young has returned to the Nationals, signing a Minor League contract on Thursday afternoon. He does not have an opt-out clause in his contract this time around.

Manager Davey Johnson announced that if the Nationals needed an emergency starter, Young will be the first person they call on. Before Thursday, left-hander Zach Duke was the emergency starter. He will remain as the long man in the bullpen.

Young originally signed a Minor League contract with Washington on Feb. 21 before allowing four runs in 16 innings during the exhibition season.

“I think he looked a lot like Chris Young. His velocity was down a tick but he’s not a velocity guy,” Rizzo said. “He was starting to get the touch and feel of his fastball and starting to get that zone he has to pitch in which is a little unique for right-handed pitchers. He has to pitch a little up in the zone, but not too far up in the zone. So he was starting to get the touch and feel for where his spot has to be.”

Young will go to Viera, Fla., to get stretched out and then play for Triple A Syracuse soon thereafter. General manager Rizzo said it will take about 10 to 12 days before he reports to Syracuse.

“I like him,” Johnson said about Young. “He threw the ball well this spring. He pitched really well. A competitor. He is great insurance.”

Johnson said he was surprised no team picked up Young considering the spring he had with Washington. After recovering from shoulder surgery last season, Young started 20 games for the Mets in 2013, going 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA. Young ended season strong, posting a 2.73 ERA in five September starts.

“He had a good spring for us. It was probably late in [Spring Training]. A lot of clubs are going with the young guys,” Johnson said.

During his brief time with the Nationals, Young talked about how much he enjoyed playing with the Nationals.

“They have been unbelievable,” Young said about the Nationals. “This is a first-class organization from top to bottom. There is not a bad thing I can say about this place. They have done it right the whole time.”

Thursday’s starting lineups for the Marlins, Nationals

Marlins
Juan Pierre — LF
Placido Polanco — 3B
Giancarlo Stanton –RF
Greg Dobbs — 1B
Justin Ruggiano– CF
Rob Brantly — C
Donovan Solano — 2B
Adieny Hechavrria — SS
Wade LeBlanc — P

Nationals
Denard Span — CF
Jayson Werth — RF
Bryce Harper — RF
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Adam LaRoche — 1B
Ian Desmond– SS
Danny Espinosa — 2B
Wilson Ramos — C
Jordan Zimmermann –P

Nats’ Zimmerman intrigued by Cano, Jay Z, Van Wagenen

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was intrigued to learn that Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano hired Roc Nation, which was founded by rapper Jay-Z, and Creative Artists Agency to represent him during contract negotiations. Cano is a free agent after the 2013 season.

While he doesn’t know the specifics regarding the partnership between Roc Nation and CAA, Zimmerman believes Roc Nation could take CAA to another level.

“When you get a guy like [Jay-Z], who wants to get involved in baseball — he is obviously one of the icons of our generation for his music,” Zimmerman said. “I think he has become a very savvy and smart businessman. It will be interesting to see what happens and where it goes and how it goes. But it’s exciting to be part of something like that. I don’t know how involved I will be or anyone else will be. It’s definitely exciting and cool.”

According to published reports, agent Brodie Van Wagenen will be the lead man when it comes to contract negotiations. Van Wagenen was the person who negotiated Zimmerman’s six-year, $100 million extension in 2012. Zimmerman calls Van Wagenen “a member of the family.”

“I’ve known Brodie for almost 10 years now. Brodie has always taken care of me and my family, just like he said he would. It’s hard to find that sometimes,” Zimmerman said. “He does his job, he does what he supposed to do. He is very professional. We have known each other for so long. It’s a different relationship than most people have with their agents.”

Asked if Van Wagenen will negotiate a lucrative deal for Cano, Zimmerman said, “I think Cano will get the deal that Cano wants. It’s pretty easy to get the money and the contract for a player like that. At the end of the day, that’s what happens. If you are a good player, you are going to get a good contract. Obviously, Robbie is one of the best in the game.”

Cano is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .313 with 33 home runs and 94 RBIs for the Yankees last year.

Wednesday’s starting lineup for Marlins, Nationals

Marlins
Juan Pierre — LF
Donvovan Solano — 2B
Giancarlo Stanton — RF
Placido Polanco — 3B
Justin Ruggiano — CF
Casey Kotchman — 1B
Miguel Olivo — C
Adeiny Hechavarria — SS
Kevin Slowey — P

Nationals
Denard Span –CF
Jayson Werth — RF
Bryce Harper — LF
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Adam LaRoche — 1B
Ian Desmond — SS
Danny Espinosa — 2B
Kurt Suzuki — C
Gio Gonzalez — P

Eckstein on Harper: ‘At a loss for words’

Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein was at a loss for words when it came to describing left fielder Bryce Harper, who hit two home runs in a 2-0 victory over the Marlins.

During Spring Training, Harper, 20, was clearly the Nationals’ best player, hitting .478 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

“You see what I see. It’s incredible,” Eckstein said. “This young man has really shown us what he is capable of doing. I think he has learned more about what he is capable of doing. He has learned about who he is on the baseball field, his demeanor, the way he carries himself, the way he interacts with his teammates. Today was just him expressing his talents. He is an amazing young man. I really don’t know how to put it into words.”

Eckstein declined to put numbers on Harper, but expects him to be a major player on the team in 2013.

“Bryce has put more pressure on himself than anybody else can put on him. He shows up every day with a passion to be the best not only what he could be, but the best that has ever played.”

Nats’ Soriano picks up first save of season

Nationals closer Rafael Soriano was not productive during Spring Training, going 1-1 with an 8.10 ERA. But, during Monday’s 2-0 victory over the Marlins, one would have never thought that Soriano had a poor spring.

In fact, he looked like that guy who saved 42 games for the Yankees last year. He pitched one shutout inning, picked up two strikeouts and his first save as a member of the Nationals. After he struck out Giancarlo Stanton to end the game, Soriano untucked his jersey to indicate that the game was over and it waas time to go home.

“Obviously, Spring Training is overrated, but he certainly turned it up a notch and made nothing but quality pitches. He was outstanding,” manager Davey Johnson said about Soriano.

Teammate Tyler Clippard wasn’t surprised that Soriano produced after the regular season started.

“He was always a guy that shines when the lights came on,” Clippard said. “I think we all realize that. In Spring Training, he is a veteran guy. He knew what he needed to do to get ready and he was ready.”

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