Results tagged ‘ Alberto Gonzalez ’

Nats tender contracts to five, agree to terms with two others

Entering Thursday, the Nationals had 10 players who were eligible for salary arbitration. Five of them — pitchers Sean Burnett, John Lannan and Doug Slaten and outfielders Michael Morse, and Josh Willingham — were tendered contracts, while catcher Jesus Flores and infielder Alberto Gonzalez agreed to terms on new deals. However, catcher Wil Nieves and right-handers Joel Peralta and Chien-Ming Wang became free agents.

Letting Nieves and Wang walk was not a surprise, for the Nationals are loaded with catchers, which made Nieves expendable, and Wang pitched in 24 games in the past three seasons.

However, letting Peralta get away was a surprise. Peralta had the best season of his career, posting a 2.02 ERA in 39 games. He allowed one run in his final 15 innings. General manager Mike Rizzo wasn’t available for comment.

Terms were not disclosed on Gonzalez and Flores. Gonzalez  is a valuable player off the bench, but his attitude must change when it comes to playing time. He was often upset when taken out of games.

Flores enters the 2011 season as the No. 3 catcher. It didn’t help that he missed most of the past two years because of a right shoulder injury. The Nationals haven’t ruled out Flores starting next season in the Minor Leagues.

Burnett, Lannan, Morse, Slaten and Willingham will have a hearing sometime in February unless they agree to terms with the club.

Of the five players, Willingham appears to the one person who could be traded before the 2011 season gets underway. Willingham is a free agent after the ’11 season and it is believed the Nationals want young players in return for the right-handed hitting slugger.

Nats trying hard to get another veteran starter

The Nationals are trying hard to find that extra veteran starter. In fact, they made contract offers to right-handers Chan Ho Park and Braden Looper, but both players turned them down, according to a baseball source.

The Nationals did not confirm that they made offers to Park and Looper.

Park ended up agreeing to a one year, $1.2 million contract with the Yankees. The source said Washington made a similar offer to Park. Looper, on the other hand, told the Nationals on Sunday night he was going in another direction. It’s not known who he will sign with.   

The free-agent pool for pitchers is thin. Right-handers John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez are still available, but the Nationals haven’t heard from those players or their representatives for quite some time.

As of now, Jason Marquis is the only veteran starter in the rotation. Pitchers such as Shawn Estes and Miguel Batista are in camp, but they are on Minor League contract at the moment.

* The Nationals have decided that right-hander Garrett Mock will start against the Astros and right-hander J.D. Martin will get the nod against the Marlins on March 4, which is when the exhibition season starts for Washington. Mock and Martin are battling for the final two spots in the rotation.

Left-hander Scott Olsen had a bullpen session, which lasted about eight minutes and he indicated to pitching coach Steve McCatty that he was 80 percent from where he wants to be.

Olsen missed the entire second half of last season because of shoulder surgery.

“I thought he threw the ball pretty well,” McCatty said. “I told him if he felt stiff or anything to let us know. He said,  ‘No, I felt fine.’ He is a big piece. If he feels good and throws what he is capable of, that going to be a big plus.”

It will be interesting to see where infielder Alberto Gonzalez ends up by Opening Day. He most likely will compete with Ian Desmond for a utility spot this spring. The 2009 season was up and down for the right-handed hitting Gonzalez.

After hitting .333 in the first half, Gonzalez slumped badly and went 40-for 180 (.222) with an on-base percentage of .245 after the All-Star break. At times, he looked lost on defense, but manager Jim Riggleman didn’t have any problems with Gonzalez’s glove.  
 
“As a manager, when you look at Alberto Gonzalez, you are thinking defense,” Riggleman said. “Any falling off offensively, I really didn’t have too much feeling about that. I just know that I felt comfortable when I put him out there. I want the ball to be hit his way.

“He got almost 300 at-bats. When you get 300 at-bats, the pitchers kind of figure out how to pitch to you. Now it’s time for him to make the adjustment.” 

Gonzalez not getting job done after All-Star break

Infielder Alberto Gonzalez was doing so well in the first half of the season that the Nationals announced that Gonzalez would get the bulk of the playing time at second base after the All-Star Break. 

However, Gonzalez has not taken advantage of the situation. Entering Thursday’s action, Gonzalez is hitting .150 [6-for-40] with three RBIs after the break and has seen his batting average drop from .333 to .285. 

Asked if Gonzalez is putting too much pressure on himself, interim manager Jim Riggleman said, “He might be. … Hitting is tough and he has hung around that .300 mark for a while. He is below that now. He give us good at-bats  I’m confident in his play — defensively and offensively.”

Look for the Nationals to go after a second baseman during the offseason. If he becomes a free agent, Orlando Hudson will be on top of the Nationals’ wish list.                          

Hernandez has new role as utility player

Since Jim Riggleman became the Nationals’ interim manager last week, Anderson Hernandez has yet to get a start at second base.

The reason is that the team now considers Hernandez a utility player. That’s why he has been working out in the outfield. Most of the playing time at second base will go to Alberto Gonzalez, with Ronnie Belliard and Willie Harris getting  occasional starts. 

The idea originally came from then-manager Manny Acta, who told Hernandez before the All-Star break that they wanted to see what Gonzalez can do on an everyday basis. Entering Saturday’s action, Gonzalez is hitting .299 with one home run with 17 RBIs.

Hernandez started the season as the everyday second baseman. While he is special with the glove, there are times when he looks overmatched at the plate, especially from the left side of the plate. One will he know that Hernandez is in a slump when he turns his head after swinging and missing at a pitch.                              

Alberto Gonzalez to play every day at second base

Nationals manager Manny Acta announced on Sunday morning that Alberto Gonzalez is going to see a lot of playing time at second base after the All-Star break, and that’s OK with Gonzalez.  

“I feel happy about the opportunity,” said Gonzalez, who is a shortstop by trade. “I’m going to play hard and do a good job.”

It helps that Gonzalez, 26,  is swinging a hot bat. Entering Sunday’s action against Astros, Gonzalez was hitting .327 with one home run and 14 RBIs. The Nationals want to see if Gonzalez can be an everyday player.

“He stays within himself,” Acta said. “He doesn’t try to play a big man’s game. He has that inside-out swing. He stays inside the ball very well. He doesn’t get pull happy or anything. He has very good eye/hand coordination.” 

In the past, Gonzalez, who was acquired by the Yankees for pitcher Jhonny Nunez on July 31, 2008, had a reputation of having an above average glove and being shaky with the bat. But he has been hitting for Washington ever since he was put on the 25-man roster last August.

“We want to find out about Gonzo,” Acta said. “He has been hitting well over .300 even since he has been called up. We played Anderson Hernandez a lot during the first half and we saw that he could play there, too.”

Gonzalez acknowledged that he has to work even harder to make sure he is hitting the baseball on a consistent basis.

“I work hard in the cage. I try to stay back. I try to hit the ball to center, right field.” Gonzalez said.

Nationals looking for shortstop

According to a baseball source, the Nationals are looking for a starting shortstop. They feel that Cristian Guzman, who is on the trade block, has lost a few steps with his glove.

The source said the Nationals are alarmed that Guzman is having a difficult time getting ground balls to his left.

The Nationals want young starting pitching in return for Guzman, who has one year left on his contract.

The team doesn’t have to acquire a shortstop — at least for the rest of the season. It can go with Alberto  Gonzalez, who is hitting .326 with a home run and 12 RBIs.         

 

Anderson Hernandez going on DL

Nationals second baseman Anderson Hernandez will start the 2009 season on the disabled list, retroactive to March 27, because of a strained left hamstring. 

Hernandez was able to take groundballs at Space Coast Stadium on Wednesday morning, but he still felt tightness in the leg. He will stay in Viera, Fla., to rehab the hamstring.

Hernandez strained his left hamstring running to first base in the sixth inning against the Braves last Wednesday. About two minutes later, he had to be helped off the field. Manager Manny Acta said the injury could have been more serious if Hernandez continued to use the leg after feeling the initial pain, but the second baseman was seen hopping on his right leg.

With Anderson going on the DL, it means Ronnie Belliard will be the starting second baseman against the Marlins on April 6. Alberto Gonzalez will also make the team as a backup infielder.

The Nationals are still planning to carry an extra position player because they are carrying only four starting pitchers. The team could carry three catchers or another infielder such as Kory Casto or Alex Cintron.                       

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