Results tagged ‘ Jim Riggleman ’

Nats, Cardinals in near brawl

The Nationals and Cardinals found themselves in scuffle in the top of the seventh inning Monday afternoon.

In that inning, with one out and the Nationals leading, 4-2, Cardinals right-hander and former National Miguel Batista hit shortstop Ian Desmond with a pitch. As he was walking toward first base, Desmond was arguing with Albert Pujols. Suddenly, both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown.

The two teams scuffled for about 15 minutes with Nationals manager Jim Riggleman and  Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa having a few words.

It mark third time a hitter was hit by a pitch during the game. Laynce Nix was hit by a Chris Carpenter pitch in the top of the fifth inning, while Colby Rasmus was plunked in the bottom of the inning by Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez.
                   

Nationals make roster cuts

The Nationals made their second round of roster cuts Friday.

They optioned pitchers Adam Carr and Garrett Mock to Triple-A Syracuse and reassigned first basemen Michael Aubrey and Kevin Barker, outfielders Jeff Frazier and Jonathan Van Every, catchers Carlos Maldonado and Jhonatan Solano and pitchers Luis Atilano, J.D. Martin & Josh Wilkie to Minor League camp.  

The team also released reliever Cla Meredith, who had Tommy John surgery this spring. Meredith’s elbow started to hurt during his first bullpen session of Spring Training. He was hoping it was scar tissue breaking up inside his elbow. He already had bone chips removed from the elbow this offseason. However, about a week later, Meredith needed elbow construction.

The Nationals’ Spring Training roster is currently at 46 players.

Of the players cut, Carr was the biggest surprise because he pitched well, throwing four shutout innings and striking out two batters.

Last season, Carr was one of the best relievers in the team’s farm system, going a combined 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. That success carried over into the Arizona Fall League. He posted a 2.08 ERA in 10 appearances for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

“Obviously, coming into my first big-league camp, you want to impressed people,” Carr said. “I felt that I came in and made a strong showing. I just worked hard and lived by what I wanted to do – just take it one day at a time. I felt good.” 

Manager Jim Riggleman said Carr wouldn’t have seen a lot of time had he survived the cuts.

“[Pitching coach] Steve [McCatty] puts the pitching together and lines it up as to how many innings the starters are going to go or how many innings there are left for the relievers,” Riggleman said. “The opportunities for Adam to pitch and show what he could do were going to be minimized. He was going to sit too many days. So he needs to get into Minor League camp and get on a regular schedule.”

Riggleman raves about Norris

Manager Jim Riggleman raved about catcher Derek Norris on Monday morning, calling him one of the most impressive players in camp and comparing him to outfielder Josh Willingham in terms of knowing the strike zone. After all, Norris has an on-base percentage of .414 during his four years in professional baseball.

Not only is Norris an above average hitter, he has made strides behind the plate, according to Riggleman.   
    
“He really looks good at the plate. His catching is coming along,” Riggleman said. “We really think he is going to be a big-league catcher. You like to give respect to the guys who have done it. He kind of gives you that Willingham feeling up there as a hitter. He is kind of built like Willingham, knows the strike zone like Willingham and we think he is going to have similar power like Willingham.”

The Nationals are loaded with quality catchers, which include Ivan Rodriguez, Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores and Jhonatan Solano. Is there any talk of  Norris switching positions? The answer is no.

“Right now, he is a catcher, period” Riggleman said about Norris. “He really got his game together in the [Arizona Fall League]. He was more aggressive in the Fall League and here in Spring Training. We feel like he is going to catch period. The strides he has made with our instructors throughout the system and [assistant general manager] Bob Boone, we are really seeing that he can catch. That’s where it’s at.” 

Last season, Norris played for Class A Hagerstown and Potomac and hit a combined .235 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs, but he had a .419 on-base percentage. He missed time in 2010 because of a wrist injury and concussion suffered after being hit by a pitch.  

Q&A with Nats manager Jim Riggleman

In his first full season as manager of the Nationals, Jim Riggleman guided the team to a 69-93 record, a 10-game improvement from last year.

MLB.com caught up with Riggleman recently to talk about the 2010 season and the needs for next year.

MLB.com:  When you look at the 2010 season, what sticks out in your mind?  

Jim Riggleman: I have mixed feelings about our year. I’m very disappointed in our record. I’m not disappointed in areas of progress that we have made. I think the bullpen that [general manager] Mike Rizzo put together — with holdovers from last year — gave me a lot of options. I’m very happy with the bullpen. I’m very happy with our defense late in the season with Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Pudge [Ivan Rodriguez] and Wilson Ramos. I think that really solidified some things there. Ryan Zimmerman played well at third. Some of that was expected, some of that we didn’t know for sure, but I’m very pleased with a lot of it.

I felt like we gave some games away between the end of May to the All-Star break. I just felt we gave away a lot of games that we should have put away. We just hit an unexplainable funk there of defensive lapses that I really can’t explain. That was disappointing.

MLB.com: If you had to do anything differently, what would it be?  

Riggleman: Early in the year, we were playing three middle infielders and we were winning. But I probably fell into the trap of Cristian Guzman hitting so well, that I got away from that three-man rotation and played Guzman and Desmond. I got away from Adam Kennedy a little bit.

Guzman’s numbers continues to be good, but our victories went down. So when I went back and put Kennedy in there –  because he didn’t play — he wasn’t the same player for a couple of week — defensively. I probably wouldn’t have fallen into that trap. I probably would have kept rotating those three guys — getting Guzzie at short  little more and Kennedy at second little more. That’s about the only lineup thing I would have done differently.  

MLB.com: The Nationals had a good first month, going 13-10. Did you expect the team to finish the season with  a record of .500 or better? If so, how disappointing was it that the team finished with a losing record.
 
Riggleman: At our highest point, we were 20-15. We were not really hitting on all cylinders at that time – by any means. Tyler Clippard was on fire. He bailed us out in many situations. Matt Capps was outstanding. What Clippard and Capps were doing, there was no way that could continue like that. We weren’t really hitting at that point. Guzman was hitting, but Ryan Zimmerman missed [games] because of injury.

So we were not hitting on all cylinders and I didn’t know how to take our record. I felt we were winning games because we played good defense the first six weeks and Capps and Clippard were outstanding.  I didn’t get caught up in what our record was, what it might be. I was going day-to-day.  

MLB.com: What do you think is the biggest need for 2011?

Riggleman: That’s a great question because I agree with Mike. [We need] a front-line starting pitcher/. However, if there isn’t a front-line pitcher we could obtain, then I would be comfortable with our starting pitching the way it is. But strengthen the strength which is our bullpen. Make it stronger with the understanding that our starters are who they are and we may be going to be bullpen even earlier because we have another guy or two down there to go along with Clippard, Peralta, Sean Burnett, Drew Storen and Doug Slaten. But ideally, you are talking about a top-line starting pitcher and that is very hard to obtain.

MLB.com: What about the offense? It was a disappointment.

Riggleman: If you break each guy down individually — Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Michael Morse Desmond, Pudge — you say he was OK. In  couple of cases, Dunn and Zimmerman had really good offensive years. But collectively, it did not produce the runs  that you would think it would produce. If each guy had an OK year, you would think that we would [have more runs scored]. So we missed something there — the situational hitting or whatever. We didn’t score as many runs  as we should have scored based on each guys individual performance.  

MLB.com: Do you think the defense needs improving?

Riggleman: I think it is already strengthened. Certainly, we can’t play the way we did during the period before the  All-Star break. From mid-May to late June, it was terrible. I think with Pudge and Ramos, Zimmerman, Espinosa and Desmond, I think our defense has a chance to be real good. Our defense in the outfield? In the baseball community, I think each guy would be considered probably an average outfielder at their positions. That’s OK. If you are an average Major League outfielder, that’s a compliment.

I think our defense, without changing personnel, will be better next year. Surprisingly, I didn’t realize it, I guess it was better this year than it was last year. It didn’t seem like it, did it?

MLB.com: Not at all. The final question is, are you coming back to manage the Nationals next year?

Riggleman: I’ve been given every indication that I’m coming back, but I haven’t signed on the dotted line. That’s all I can say about it.
 

Riggleman to be retained as manager

The Nationals are expected to announce by the end of this week that Jim Riggleman will be retained as manager, according to a baseball source.

Last offseason, Riggleman signed a two-year deal, but only 2010 was guaranteed. The team could have bought him out after this season.

Washington is 63-88 and has improved from last season, when it went 59-103. It was Riggleman who brought accountability back into the Nationals’ clubhouse for the first time since Frank Robinson managed the club from 2002-06.

Riggleman replaced Manny Acta as manager of the Nationals after the All-Star break last season. The club went 33-42 and finished the year on a seven-game winning streak.

This is Riggleman’s fourth managerial stint, after leading the Padres, Cubs and Mariners. His best season as a skipper was in 1998, when he guided the Cubs to the playoffs after they won a National League Wild Card tiebreaker over the Giants. The team lost to the Braves in the NL Division Series, 3-0.

Riggleman wants to start winning

No matter what happens during the rest of the 2010 season, the Nationals will have a better record than last year, when they were 59-103. 

Entering Tuesday’s action against the Astros, the Nationals are 62-88. However, Washington has lost four straight and 10 out of its past 12 games. Manager Jim Riggleman is concerned that the recent losing streak may mask the progress the club has made this year.

“You worry about that a little a bit because the fans have supported us so well,” Riggleman said after the team’s 8-2 loss to the Astros. “I think people have gotten excited about some of the nice players we have put out there.

“But when you lose too much, they are going to get a little disillusioned with it. We can’t let that happen. We have to keep playing with energy, play hard, battle with energy and not take innings off. The other clubs are going to get you if they do that.”   

Nats score first run in weird fashion vs. Brewers

The Nationals ended up scoring their first run of the game in weird fashion during their 4-3 loss to the Brewers on Saturday night.

Milwaukee was ahead, 2-0, when Washington scored its first run in the fifth inning. With runners on first and third, Ian Desmond hit a long fly ball to Jim Edmonds, who made a great backhanded catch in center field. Edmonds and second baseman Rickie Weeks were able to double off Mike Morse at first base for an inning-ending double play.

“It was a mistake on my part,” Morse said. “I thought there was no way Edmonds was going to get the ball. But he is a great outfielder. I should have kept my head up.” 

However, in the bottom of the fifth inning, the umpires ruled that Josh Willingham scored from third before Morse was doubled off first base. Rule 4:09 in the 2010 edition of Official Baseball Rules states that the lead runner can score before the runner on first is thrown out.

Riggleman found out about the scoring change through umpire Dale Scott in the bottom of the fifth when he went to make a pitching change. 

“This one didn’t have that feel that we would get that run,” Riggleman said. “I saw Dale go over and talk to [Brewers manager] Ken Macha. I thought maybe that was what he was saying, but he didn’t come over to tell me. So when I got up to make a pitching change, he said, ‘You know the score is 2-1.’” 

Riggleman to manage Nats next season

General manager Mike Rizzo told MLB.com on Friday afternoon that Jim Riggleman will manage the Nationals in 2011.

Last offseason, Riggleman signed a two-year deal, but only 2010 is guaranteed. The team could have bought him out after this season.

Entering Friday’s action, Washington is 42-54, but are on pace to improve from last season, a season in which they went 59-103. It was Riggleman, who brought accountability back into the Nationals’ locker room for the first time since Frank Robinson managed the club from 2002 to 2006. 

“Yes, he will be back next season. He has done a terrific job,” Rizzo said. “We have a great relationship. He is a baseball rat. I can’t beat him to the ballpark. One of these days I’m going to beat him to the ballpark. He runs at 8:00 a.m. and he is at the ballpark by 11.

“He is a terrific baseball manager. He has great respect from his peers in this game. When the games starts, he is as good as anybody in the game. He has the respect in the clubhouse. He is a diligent worker and he is a loyal employee.” 

Said first baseman Adam Dunn, “I think Jim deserves it. I’m glad they made the announcement now instead of waiting until the end. He definitely deserves the opportunity to manage the club when its healthy.”

Riggleman, who was not available to for comment, replaced Manny Acta as manager of the Nationals after the All-Star Break last year. The club went 33-42 and finished the year on a seven-game winning streak.

This is Riggleman’s fourth managerial stint, after leading the Padres, Cubs and Mariners. His best season as a skipper was in 1998, when he guided the Cubs to the playoffs after they won a National League Wild Card tiebreaker over the Giants. The team lost to the Braves in the NL Division Series, 3-0. 

Riggleman names four pitchers for rotation [updated]

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman named four members of his rotation Monday. He said John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Craig Stammen and Livan Hernandez will be the four pitchers in that order. 

The order of the rotation was first reported by MLB.com on Sunday. 

Lannan will be the Opening Day starter against the Phillies on April 5 at Nationals Park. Marquis, Stammen and Hernandez will soon follow.

“I know they can pitch,” pitching coach Steve McCatty said. “We are not going to be the 96 mile an hour, jet blowing, No 1. Type starters who are 6-foot-6, but we have guys who sink the ball.

“When you have guys who can throw it up there and have some sink, throw strikes, mix in their off-speed pitches and compete, you know you have a good chance. Yes, I’m happy with [the rotation].”

Of the four starters named, Stammen and Hernandez appeared to be longs shots when Spring Training began. 

Stammen had bone ships removed from his right elbow last September and it appeared he would start the season in the bullpen or be sent down to the Minor Leagues. It turned out he was the second-best pitcher behind Stephen Strasburg. Stammen allowed five earned runs in 14 1/3 innings and struck out 10 batters.  

“The spring has gone well, so far,” Stammen said. “I came in healthy. My arm has felt really good the whole time. I had some success on the mound. Some of the hard work has paid off, but what you do in the spring doesn’t matter. All this stuff gets thrown out when the season starts. So I have to continue the success in April.”

Hernandez didn’t come into camp until late February and had to get into pitching shape. His first start wasn’t until March 14, but the late start didn’t hurt him as he allowed two earned runs in eight innings. 
      
“I feel really happy. I worked hard since I came to Spring Training,” Hernandez said. “I came to Spring Training knowing I could still pitch and help the team win.”                  
                  
The team must decide on who the fifth starter will be. Garrett Mock, Scott Olsen and J.D. Martin are competing for the final spot.

Not long ago, Mock was considered part of the rotation, but he has given up five runs in his last nine innings. That’s not including the disappointing outing last week against the Minor League Astros in which he gave up three home runs.

Olsen knew Sunday was his last chance to prove to the Nationals that he should be in the rotation. It turned out Olsen made the team’s decision even tougher in a 9-3 victory over the Braves. 

Olsen pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up one earned run on seven hits. He struck out four and walked none. It was Olsen’s best outing of the spring.

As for Martin, he gave up five runs in five innings against the Tigers last Thursday. The first inning was Martin’s only bad inning as he blanked Detroit in the next four frames.

The last time Martin pitched in a big-league game prior to that game was March 10 against the Cardinals. Rainouts and too many pitchers in camp were the reasons Martin didn’t see action until Thursday.

But it wasn’t like Martin was rusty. He pitched in simulated games and on the Minor League field.

Nats to name four pitchers in rotation

The Nationals are expected to name the first four pitchers in their rotation Monday.

They will announce that John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Craig Stammen and Livan Hernandez will be the four pitchers in that order.

Lannan will be the Opening Day starter against the Phillies on April 5 at Nationals Park. Marquis, Stammen and Hernandez will soon follow.

The team must decide on who the fifth starter will be. Garrett Mock, Scott Olsen and J.D. Martin are competing for the final spot.

Not long ago, Mock was considered part of the rotation, but he has given up five runs in his last nine innings. That’s not including the disappointing outing last week against the Minor League Astros in which he gave up three home runs.

Olsen knew Sunday was his last chance to prove to the Nationals that he should be in the rotation. It turned out that Olsen made the team’s decision even tougher in a 9-3 victory over the Braves. 

Olsen pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up one earned run on seven hits. He struck out four and walked none. It was Olsen’s best outing of the spring.

As for Martin, he gave up five runs in five innings against the Tigers last Thursday. The first inning was Martin’s only bad inning as he blanked Detroit in the next four frames.

The last time Martin pitched in a big league game prior to that game was March 10 against the Cardinals. Rainouts and too many pitchers in camp were the reasons Martin didn’t see action until Thursday.

But it wasn’t like Martin was rusty. He pitched in simulated games and on the Minor League field. 

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