Results tagged ‘ Natioanls ’

Nobody has talked to Nats’ Williams about job status

By Bill Ladson

NEW YORK — Despite the reports that he is going to be dismissed as manager of the Nationals, Matt Williams said nobody in the front office talked to him about his status with the club. He is said he is focusing on the final three games of the season against the Mets.

“Nobody has spoken to me at this point and, frankly, it’s not a concern of mine right now. We have a guy [Bryce Harper] who is a potential MVP on our team and we have three games to play. That’s what I’m concentrating on. That’s what I know right now. As of today I have a job to do a couple of time and we’ll go from there.”

It was a bad month of September for Williams. The Mets swept a crucial three-game series from the Nationals at Nationals Park during the second week of September. By Sept. 26, the Nationals were eliminated from postseason contention as the Mets won the National League East title.

A day later, teammates Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon were involved in a dugout confrontation. It was a fight that Williams claimed he didn’t see until he saw a video of it later that night. Papelbon ended up getting suspended four games because of the fracas.

Then reports surfaced in the Washington Post that Williams lost the club, doesn’t communicate well with his players and players questioning how Williams handled the bullpen, which turned out to be its weakest link.

Asked why he didn’t defend himself after the reports came, Williams said, “I personally feel that it’s my job to be a calming force as opposed to a disruptive one. We have a lot of talented players on this team that I support whole heartedly every single day. I will not stop doing that – ever. Believe me when I tell you this.

“So with that being said, I’m not going to subject this team to any more distractions. There no need for further distractions at this point. What’s important is that we finish this season strong, Beyond that, it noise.”

Williams said he talks to Nationals management every single day, but wouldn’t tell the local media what has been said between the two parties.

Rizzo to be named general manager of Nationals

Mike Rizzo is no longer acting general manager of the Nationals. He will be named the permanent GM  at a news conference on Thursday at Nationals Park, according to a baseball source.

The Nationals made the decision that Rizzo was their man a couple of days ago.
In March, the Nationals named Rizzo acting general manager, two days after Jim Bowden resigned from the GM position. Rizzo has handled responsibilities related to the Major League, Minor League and scouting operations of the organization. Day-to-day inquiries related to player personnel have been directed to Rizzo, with team president Stan Kasten having key hands-on involvement.

Since taking the job, Rizzo has made upgrades to the bullpen by adding Mike McDougal, Jorge Sosa and Ron Villone, and he gained authorization to acquire outfielder Nyjer Morgan and left-hander Sean Burnett from the Pirates for outfielder Lastings Milledge and right-hander Joel Hanrahan. The deal with Pittsburgh has played out initially as a considerably favorable one for Washington. Rizzo was also in place during a switch at manager that has resulted in better performance this month.

Rizzo, as expected for any person in his role, was a visible figure in the efforts to get No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg signed before Monday’s midnight ET deadline.
“Mike keeps his energy level high,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “He always comes in fired up — always talking about today’s game and last night’s game. He is very much in tune to the strengths and weaknesses of the club. I really enjoy working with him.

“I think he has been very patient with the roster in terms of the position players, but has not hesitated to make moves when we were failing as a pitching staff. I think he was willing to go down to Syracuse and keep changing it up until we found the right mix. So it’s a great combination. He’s showed aggressiveness and patience.” 

Nationals have plans for Strasburg

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals’ No. 1 pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is tentatively scheduled to be introduced at a press conference Friday at Nationals Park.

Strasburg will stay with the team until Monday and then go to Viera, Fla., to get his arm back in shape. He hasn’t pitched in a competitive game since late May.

The Nationals are hoping that Strasburg will pitch in the Instructional League and then play in the Arizona Fall League.

Acting general manager Mike Rizzo said it’s highly unlikely that Strasburg will pitch in the Major Leagues this season or at the start of next season. 

“Strasburg hasn’t pitched competitively since the 28th of May, so typically it’s a four or five week process to ramp him up [and let him pitch competitively],” Rizzo said. “It’s very unlikely [that he will pitch in the big leagues]. We expect to develop him at a usual pace. Hopefully, when he gets to the big leagues, he is ready to be here and he is everything that we think he is going to be here.”

Strasburg, 20, went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 starts this season at San Diego State University en route to being named the Golden Spikes Award winner. He struck out 195 batters and issued just 19 walks in 109 innings.

Monday's starting lineup between Nationals, Mets

Pagan – CF
Castillo – 2B
Murphy – 1B
Wright – 3B
Francoeur – RF
Reed – LF
Cora – SS
Schneider – C
Hernandez – P
Morgan – CF
Belliard – 2B
Johnson – 1B
Dunn – LF
Guzman – SS
Kearns – RF
Harris – 3B
Bard – C
Martin – P

Scott Olsen to go on DL; J.D. Martin to be called up

Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman announced on Sunday morning that left-hander Scott Olsen will be placed on the 15-day disabled list and right-hander J.D. Martin will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse to make the start against the Mets on Monday night.

Martin, who will be making his Major League debut, was 8-3 with a 2.66 ERA for Syracuse. He has been in professional baseball since 2001. He spent most of his career in the Indians organization.

“I talked to [Syracuse manager] Tim Foli and [Nationals pitching coach] Steve McCatty [about Martin],” Riggleman said. “Martin has been a strike thrower, understands about holding runners and the finer points of pitching to both sides at the plate. He is a professional pitcher and earned the right to get here and see if he can do it against Major League hitters.”

Looking to get a second opinion, Olsen will see Dr. James Andrews on Monday about his sore latissimus dorsi, a muscle near the shoulder area. It’s the second time Olsen will be placed on the DL. He missed time earlier in the season because of a sore shoulder.        

Zimmerman trying to improve throwing

Around 3:00 p.m. ET, on Friday, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman was seen working hard with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on his throwing motion.

Zimmerman was seen throwing the baseball overhand instead of his usual sidearm delivery, which has caused him to make costly errors. The session lasted about 15 minutes.  

“We want to maximize everything Ryan can do,” Riggleman said. “His range is probably better than anybody I’ve ever seen over at third base. … He goes and gets so many balls to his left and by the mound, but somewhere in there, he lost his feel for his arm slot on the basic play.

“The ball is not coming out of his hand as good as he knows it can and we know it can. We talked about it. We are going to get back to the basics, get his arm up and let it fly.”

Thursday was an example of how things have been going for Zimmerman with the glove. Leading off the top of the third inning, Cubs catcher Koyie Hill hit a routine ground ball to  Zimmerman, who threw away the ball for a two-base error. Zimmerman threw the ball sidearm, but had problems gripping the ball.

“I want to stop [making errors] because it’s hurting the team. I don’t like the way it happens,” Zimmerman said.

Nationals pitchers doing job with bats

Entering Friday’s action, Nationals pitchers have recorded at least one hit in six out of the last nine games, going 8-for-18 [.444] with a walk and five RBIs.

Prior to that current hot streak, Washington pitchers went 10-for-112 [.089] with three RBIs in the first 75 games. Manager Manny Acta credits the young starters such as John Lannan and Craig Stammen for taking pride in their hitting.    

“They aren’t doing anything that they haven’t done before,”  Acta said. “They work on their hitting. They work on their bunting. These younger kids that we have now are god athletes. They kind of take pride on getting better on that kind of stuff. In the past, we had some guys who were not good athletes or have been around and didn’t care much about that stuff.”