Results tagged ‘ Josh Willingham ’

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.

Willingham has sore left knee

Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham was given the day off  Wednesday night after seeing his batting average dip from .281 to .262. It doesn’t help that he is 15-for-78 [.192] with no home runs and eight RBIs since the All-Star break.

When approached by reporters early Wednesday, Willingham didn’t have an answer for his second-half slump, but it was revealed by manager Jim Riggleman that Willingham has a sore left knee.

Willingham has had soreness for the last two weeks and had dealt with the same type of injury in April.

Riggleman praised Willingham for playing even though he was in pain.

“Josh is a little banged up. His knee is barking a little bit,” Riggleman said. “We’re going to give him a day off today. We’ll see where it takes us. He is really a gamer, a tough guy. He has played with some soreness for quite a while. Guys like Josh, who have power, you never know what the day is going to be when they come out of their little slump. When they come out of it, they will come out with a long ball or two.”

Willingham believes he will not be traded

Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham acknowledged Monday that he doesn’t pay attention to trade rumors — even the latest one which has him linked to the Braves.

However, Willingham made it known that he would like to stay with the Nationals because of the people he has met in the organization since he was acquired from the Marlins in November of 2008.

“I have really gotten comfortable with the people in the organization — the ownership all the way down to every employee,” said Willingham, who is hitting .276 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs entering Monday’s action against the Reds. “That means a lot when you talk about being comfortable in baseball. I feel very comfortable here. I like everybody in the organization.”

Asked if he would be traded after general manager Mike Rizzo said Willingham “is part of the family. We want him around long-term,” the right-handed hitting slugger believes he would remain a member of the Nationals. It’s not a secret that Willingham is one of Rizzo’s favorite players on the team. 

“Rizzo has never told me something that was not true and that started last year in Miami when I wasn’t playing,” Willingham said. “We had breakfast together and laid it out on the table. I told him how I felt and he told me how he felt.

“He told me how it was going to happen and it’s exactly how it happened. He has been as honest with me as anybody. So I absolutely believe [I will not be traded].” 

Willingham ended up being the everyday left fielder by June and hit .260 with 24 home runs and 61 RBIs in 2009. 

Salute to the Troops — Nats style

In honor of US military members, Microsoft and the USO have partnered with the Nationals to host A Salute to Our Troops on Sunday.

The event kicks off with a USO Care Package Party beginning at 9:30 am ET in the Nationals Park Conference Center, where more than 125 volunteers will spend two hours assembling care packages for local military families.

Nationals right-hander Matt Capps and left fielder Josh Willingham will also stop by to participate beginning at 10:45 am.

The volunteers will then head to the Rooftop Party Deck to join more than 250 special guests, including wounded warriors, for a private BBQ reception before the Nationals face the Giants at 1:35 pm. ET


Hammer reaches personal milestone

Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham set a personal milestone in a 4-3 victory over the Royals on Tuesday night. He hit his 100th career home run against right-hander Anthony Lerew.

In the fourth inning, Willingham led off and took 1 -0 pitch and hit his 13th home run of the season to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead.

“It feels good,” Willingham said about his 100th home run. “First of all, we won the game tonight. Second of all, I never really set out to hit 100 home runs. It’s kind of cool to hit that many. It will probably be special later on as I look back in my career.”

Willingham ended up going 3-for-4 in the game and is now hitting .274 with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs, which is tied for the team lead.

Asked if this season is his best of his career, Willingham said, “That is to be determined. We’ll see what happens. We still have a lot of baseball to be played. Anything could happen — good or not so good.”

Personal matter keeps Willingham away from camp

Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham has not reported to camp because his newborn son, Ryder Jon Willingham, experienced some complications, according to the outfielder.
Josh Willingham did not say what the problems were, but he is happy to report that Ryder is getting better. Josh Willingham indicated he is planning to arrive in camp by Wednesday. 
Manager Jim Riggleman also declined to talk about what was going on with Willingham.

“He is home for a few more days at least,” Riggleman said. “I really don’t want to get into why he is home. It’s something we can explain once he gets here, but Josh is doing well himself. We’ll get him here later this week or next week. It’s not going to take him long to get ready once he gets here.”  
Willingham did not arrive in camp last week because his wife, Ginger, gave birth to Ryder in Florence, Ala., on Tuesday. Ryder came in at 22 inches and weighed eight pounds.

Once he arrives in camp, Willingham most likely will not play in an exhibition game until early next week. 

Livo, Martin arrive in camp

Two days after agreeing to terms on a Minor League deal, Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez reported to camp Friday and had his first bullpen session since late last season.

Hernandez is considered insurance in case pitchers such as Chien-Ming Wang, Scott Olsen and Ross Detwiler are not able to come back from injuries.  

“Livo brings us an experienced guy who we know can give us innings,” general manager Mike Rizzo. “You know what you are dealing with. He is a good inventory guy for us. He is a veteran guy. You know he is going to give us innings. You know the type of pitcher he is going to be.”
Hernandez is coming off a season in which he went a combined 9-12 with a 5.44 ERA for the Mets and Nationals. Washington signed Hernandez as a free agent on Aug. 26, six days after New York released him.

On Friday, Hernandez sounded like a man who was pleased to return to the Nationals.
“I feel very happy that I’m back. The team did a great job putting a team together,” Hernandez said. “They have a chance to make the playoffs. They have a good team with power and pitching. It’s going to be really nice.”

* Right-hander Rafael Martin reported to Minor League camp Friday. He said a deal between  him and the Nationals was finalized on Feb.  8.
Martin, who is a native of Southern California, said he is big-league ready, but understands that he must prove himself in the United States.

“Personally, I think I am ready,” Martin said. “I pitch to a lot of big-league hitters in the Mexican Winter League. I played in the Caribbean Series. I think everything will be fine.”

Washington believes that Martin will be a seventh- or an eighth-inning setup man for future closer Drew Storen. Martin is expected to start the 2010 season with Triple-A Syracuse or Double-A Harrisburg. His fastball is clocked between 92-94 mph.

Martin is coming off a season in which he pitched in 54 games for Saraperos de Saltillo of the Mexican League, going 6-3 with a 4.12 ERA. Even more impressive is that he struck out 65 batters in 63 1/3 innings and held opponents to a .244 batting average.

* Josh Willingham was not at the full-squad workout because his wife gave birth to boy named Ryder Jon Willingham on Wednesday in Florence, Ala. Ryder came in at 22 inches and weighed eight pounds. It’s not known when Josh Willingham will return to the team. 

Six Nats players tendered contracts

The Nationals have tendered contracts to outfielder Josh Willingham, catchers Jesus Flores and Wil Nieves and pitchers Jason Bergmann, Brian Bruney and Sean Burnett on Saturday night.

The Nationals  had an 11:59 p.m. ET deadline Saturday to make a decision on all six players, who are arbitration eligible. 

Earlier in the day, Washington decided it would not be tendering 2010 contracts to pitchers Mike MacDougal and Scott Olsen.

Of all the players coming back, the biggest surprise is Nieves. It was believed that he would be non-tendered after the Nationals signed catcher Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year $6 million, but they decided to keep Nieves because they feel he has been a valuable player — offensively and defensively — off the bench the last two years and can be insurance in case Jesus Flores is not ready for Spring Training.

Flores had surgery on his right shoulder and right elbow, and the team announced as recently as Friday that Flores would be ready for Spring Training.

“I can only go by what the medical people tell me. They say Jesus should be 100 percent ready to participate in Spring Training,” Rizzo said on Friday. “We take them at their word, but we all know that shoulders are very difficult to predict.”

As for Willingham, he is coming off a productive season in 2009. He started the year on the bench, but became a regular in June and hit .260 with 24 home runs and 61 RBIs. Willingham has been mentioned in trade rumors recently. Teams such as the Mets and Braves have interest in acquiring his services.

Bergmann showed improvement after the All-Star break, going 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA as a reliever. Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman often talked about wanting Bergmann back for the 2010 season.

“In my heart of hearts, I’ve been in this organization a long time. I love people that I play with and play for. I would like to stick around for a long time,” Bergmann said on Wednesday.

Bruney, who was acquired from the Yankees this past week, will compete for the closer’s role durinmg Spring Training.   

Burnett was a quality reliever for the Nationals, who acquired him and center fielder Nyjer Morgan in a trade that sent outfielder Lastings Milledge and right-hander Joel Hanrahan to the Pirates in late June. In 33 games for Washington, Burnett went 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA.

Mets interested in Willingham

Add the Mets as one of the teams who have interest in Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham, according to a baseball source. The Giants, Mariners and Braves are the other teams who reportedly are willing to acquire his services.

The Mets had problems finding a regular left fielder this past season. They used nine players in at the position and hit a combined .276 with 12 home runs and 76 RBIs. Willingham started the 2009 season on the bench, but became the everyday left fielder starting in June and hit .260 with  24 home runs and 61 RBIs.

Willingham is not only an outfielder. He can play first base and go behind the plate in emergency situation.

“Willingham is the only player on the Nationals [the Mets] are interested in,” the source said.

Don’t look for the Nationals to give Willingham away. The Nationals most likely would want pitching in return. Who they want from New York is not known. If Willingham were to leave, Washington most likely will give Roger Bernadina or Justin Maxwell a chance to play left field. Don’t rule out the two players platooning at the position. 

Willingham, Lincecum named NL Co-Players of the Week

Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham and Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum have been named National League Co-Players of the Week presented by Bank of America for the period ending August 2nd.

Willingham went 10-for-23 [.435] with three home runs and 11 RBIs. He collected four multi-hit games while posting a .913 slugging percentage and a .519 on-base percentage.

On July 27th, Willingham had the game of his life, hitting two grand slams at Miller Park to lead the Nationals to a 14-6 win over the Brewers. Willingham became the 13th player in Major League history to accomplish the feat and the first player to do so since Boston’s Bill Mueller in 2003.

The eight-RBI game marked a career high for Willingham and matched a franchise single-game mark, including Montreal.

As for Lincecum, he didn’t give up an earned run in 17 innings, while striking out a combined 23 strikeouts against the Pirates and Phillies.