Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’
PHILADELPHIA — Former Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina was in the starting lineup for the Phillies on Monday, hitting eighth and playing right field.
The Nationals released Bernadina on Aug. 19 to make room for outfielder David DeJesus</span>. At the time of his release, Bernadina was hitting .178 with two home runs and six RBIs. His hitting wasn’t the only thing that disappointed the Nationals. He was also known to make baserunning mistakes.
“I like him. He just didn’t get much playing time early because we had a set lineup,” manager Davey Johnson said. “But he should have been used to that. Early on, it looked like he was guessing for pitches because he wasn’t aggressive.
“Again, all things come back to you having to stay aggressive in the box. First pitch may be the best pitch you get. They threw a lot of changeups and offspeed stuff. I think he missed a lot of fastballs, because he started getting into that guessing game.”</p>
Asked if was he surprised that the Nationals released him, Bernadina said: “You never want to get released, of course. I will say I was a little bit shocked. I wasn’t performing well. … It’s a business. I understand that part. I wish it had been a better ending, but I understand it’s part of business.
“I think they wanted me for a long time. I wouldn’t be in that organization for that long. In the end, it didn’t work out like I wanted it to.”
Bernadina was a popular figure with the D.C. fans and his teammates. He was lovingly known as “The Shark” because of the handful of great catches he made in the outfield.
“I love my teammates. I love the fans in D.C. I’m looking forward to going over there to see my teammates again,” Bernadina said.
Bernadina has been with the Phillies for the last two weeks and his hitting didn’t get any better, but he has made some nice plays in the outfield.
“Ever since I came here, they really want me. It’s a new opportunity to play somewhere, play more,” Bernadina said. “They have given me the chance to play. I think the teammates are great, coaches, everything is great.”
PHILADELPHIA — With Davey Johnson retiring at the end of the 2013 season, bench coach Randy Knorr said Monday he would like to be considered as the next manager of the Nationals.
“I would like [the Nationals] to consider me. But I know [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] has a bunch of people in mind, also,” Knorr said. “It would be an honor to be considered for that job. … I try not to think too far ahead. I like to take things day by day.”
Knorr is more than qualified for the job. Of current players on the Major League roster, Knorr managed 11 of them, including Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg, in the Minor Leagues.
In 2008, while managing Class A Potomac, Knorr guided the team to the Carolina League championship.
Knorr is also not afraid to speak his mind. While filling in for Johnson last Friday, Knorr called outfielder Bryce Harper out for not hustling against the Mets. In a game against the Pirates on July 26, Knorr quickly yanked Rafael Soriano out of the game in the ninth inning as he struggled with command.
“I think it’s very important to speak your mind,” Knorr said. “Your players will never be in the dark in what you believe in. I don’t have secrets with my players. They asked me a question, I’ll be as honest as I can with them. You have a better relationship with them. They are not always trying to figure you out. … They know where you are coming from, they have no problems with it.”
By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter
Denard Span extended the best hitting streak of his career to 15 games on Sunday night with a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning. Entering Monday’s series opener against the Phillies, he had a .407 average over his past 15 games.
Span has been spending extra time in the batting cage with hitting coach Rick Schu, who introduced a concept called “fluididity” to the center fielder.
“I don’t know if it’s a word, but it is now,” Schu said over the weekend. “We’re just trying to get him some rhythm and some flow. Really not a big overhaul — it’s tough because you’ve got to compete every day — but we’re just trying to find some rhythm and get him a game plan every day.”
Span hit .265 in 90 games before Schu’s arrival and is hitting .303 in 34 games since. Perhaps the most noticeable difference in Span’s approach is that he has been hitting for power. All three of his home runs this season have come since the All-Star break, in addition to five doubles and two triples.
“He’s a strong guy,” Schu said. “We don’t want him to go up and worry about hitting home runs, but he’s going to run into them and hit them. It’s just a matter of getting through his front side and just staying through the baseball a little bit longer.”
Schu praised Span as an all-around hitter with the ability of a perennial All-Star. He said that Span is not just a table-setter at the top of the lineup, but someone who could hit 10 home runs in a season as well.
“Not to take anything from conventional leadoff hitters, but I’ve never considered myself just a slap guy, or a singles guy,” Span said. “I’ve always considered myself a guy that can drive the ball in the gaps and hit some home runs. I’m confident in my ability. I know what God has blessed me with. It’s just a matter of putting it all together and just continuing to work.”
NEW YORK — Right-hander Tyler Clippard is clearly the Nationals’ best reliever this year. Entering Sunday’s action against the Mets, Clippard was 6-2 with a 1.94 ERA and led the National League with 28 holds.
One thing Clippard doesn’t want to do is end the season on a bad note, like he did last year. During the final month of the 2012 season, Clippard allowed 12 runs in 13 1/3 innings.
Clippard is motivated to show that he can be consistent for a whole season, including the month of September.
“It’s all about how you finish in this game. I felt like I was part of the reason everything happened like it did [toward the end of the 2012 season and the postseason],” Clippard said. “I didn’t want that to happen again. It motivated me to finish strong. We still have a month left, but I’m still working hard.”
Michael Morse was known as “The Beast,” and what a player he was when he wore a Nationals uniform. He was one of the big reasons they won the National League East title in 2012.
After coming back from a lat muscle strain last season, Morse made up for lost time by hitting .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in 102 games. He even played in the postseason with a hamstring injury, and managed to hit a home run and collect five hits against the Cardinals in the NL Division Series.
After the season ended, the Nationals traded Morse to the Athletics for pitching prospects, including A.J. Cole and Ian Krol. Oakland then swapped Morse to the Mariners for catcher John Jaso.
After having a tough season in Seattle, Morse was dealt to the Orioles this weekend. His job is to provide power to an already formidable lineup.
MLB.com caught up with Morse at Yankee Stadium on Sunday to talk about his trade to the Orioles and the possibility of returning to the Nationals.
MLB.com: What do you think of your season so far? You have been with the Orioles for two days.
Michael Morse: For a guy who was hitting .220, getting an opportunity to come to a team like this is special. I’m getting a shot at getting to the postseason with a great ballclub. These guys have so much potential. They have so much swagger. It’s going to be fun and very special here.
MLB.com: When did you know that you were going to be traded?
Morse: The way the Mariners were going, I knew it was going to work out [as far as going to a contender]. There was always speculation, I might be getting traded here and there at the Deadline. When this trade happened, I was very excited. There isn’t another place I want to go to.
MLB.com: You will be a free agent after the season. Do you want to stay with the Orioles?
Morse: It’s too early to think about stuff like that. The one and only goal right now is help this team get to the postseason.
MLB.com: Starting Thursday, you will play in Camden Yards, a ballpark that suits Michael Morse.
Morse: It absolutely does. My main thing is, just fit in with the team, have fun like I always do and help them with their push.
MLB.com: Let’s talk about the Nationals. How surprised are you that they have been inconsistent this year?
Morse: Baseball is a funny game. You look at what Jayson Werth is doing. He is having a great year. Ian Desmond is also having a great year. These are guys I talk to almost on a daily basis. I still have a close-knit relationship with a lot of guys on that team.
What we had last year was special. I hope to get it back. I feel like you have something like that, you have to go for it.
MLB.com: What do you think the problem is with the Nationals?
Morse: I really don’t know. Like I said, baseball is a funny game. It looks like Atlanta has been pretty good all year.
MLB.com: A lot of Nationals fans would like to see you come back. Would you like to come back and play for the Nationals?
Morse: For me, the door is always open. D.C. is a special place. The Nationals gave me my first big break and I have a lot of memories there.
MLB.com: What made that 2012 team so special?
Morse: We knew we were good. How good? We didn’t know until the season kept going. We had one goal: get to the postseason and win the World Series. We all had each other’s back. That’s what good teams do. When you have a close knit family like that, special things started to happen. Not only did we win games, we were having fun — on and off the field. We were all together. It was sad when I had to leave, but baseball is baseball. That’s what happens.
MLB.com: I heard you cried after the Cardinals defeated the Nationals in the National League Division Series.
Morse: It was tough. I remember in the locker room, sitting there — no one moved for quite a long time. It was one of those surreal moments where the season is over and we didn’t think it was. We thought we had batting practice the next day, but literally, that was it. I think we were not ready [to call it a season].
MLB.com: The song “Take On Me” by Aha is popular during the seventh inning at Nationals Park. That used to be your walkup song to the plate. What is your reaction that the song is still popular in D.C.?
Morse: That says a lot about the fans in D.C. I think it’s great. I wouldn’t want them any other way. I love the fact that the song still makes them happy.
MLB.com: Do you think the Nationals miss you?
Morse: It’s tough to say. I surely miss them, the players. Like I said, we were a close knit group. We keep in touch. Maybe down the stretch here, who knows, we might be playing against them [in the postseason].
Aaron Boone played one year for the Nationals, in 2008. However, he is best remembered for hitting the game-winning home run that helped Yankees win the 2003 American League pennant.
Now a baseball analyst for ESPN, Boone, 40, spoke with MLB.com on Friday about the 2013 Nationals and their chances of making the postseason.
MLB.com: What do you think of the Nationals’ latest run?
Aaron Boone: I think it’s too little, too late, but stranger things have happened over the last couple of seasons. Obviously, they are going to try to continue it at a lights out level during the final month of the season.
Obviously, you have to go on a 20-5 run, but then they need help from other teams. Those things have happened over time. No question. But they are still well behind at this point.
MLB.com: How surprised were you that the Nationals were inconsistent for most of the season?
Boone: I was. I thought, provided their pitching stayed healthy, it would carry them and [they'd] be in a position to win the division or at least get a wild card. [The pitching] hasn’t been as overwhelming as we anticipated. The bullpen is very average – at best. I think what has hurt them this year is that the bench hasn’t been very good. It seems they don’t have anybody they can plug in or step in during the course of the season. That adds up.
MLB.com: The overall offense hasn’t been good for most of the season.
Boone: I still think this offense is solid all around, but when your starting nine aren’t completely healthy and you don’t have pieces to plug in — they haven’t had a guy off the bench that’s had a big year for them, a person they can plug in for a week or two. There has been a really big drop off that I’ve noticed. Outside of the main core guys, they’ve had some struggles.
MLB.com: Do you think the Nationals made a mistake by letting lefty relievers like Tom Gorzelanny go?
Boone: When I looked at this team in Spring Training, … everyone felt like, well, their starting pitching is so good and then with [Tyler]Clippard, [Drew] Storen and [Craig] Stammen and adding Soriano in the back end, [the Nationals] have guys who can neutralize the lefties – how Clippard has been over his career [against lefties]. They thought they could get away with it. … I think going in, it’s the one area I thought they would have a concern, but I thought the overall strength of the bullpen would be able to counter it. It is something that has bit them a little bit.
MLB.com: What do you think about the way Jayson Werth has carried the Nationals the last two months?
Boone: It has been really awesome. He has been a beast. This is what they’ve signed him to do. You have to tip your cap for what he has done and what he has been able to put together. Obviously, he is right in the middle of being on a nice little run and giving them a fighter’s chance down the stretch.
MLB.com: How are things going with you health-wise?
Boone: I’m doing really well. I’m enjoying my gig. It’s a lot of fun to be able to cover game that I love and have a small part in the sport. It has been a blessed transition for me.
KANSAS CITY — It looked like Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was going to leave Sunday’s game against the Royals in the sixth inning after he fouled a ball off his left foot.
Harper was slow getting up, but he remained in the game and singled to left field in the same inning.
“In a situation like that, I want to stay in there. I want to get some knocks and try to win that ballgame,” Harper said.
An inning later, Harper’s foot was still “throbbing” when he hit a two-run homer of Ervin Santana to tie the score at 4.
“He gave me a pitch I could drive. I got something I could do with it,” Harper said.
During the 10-game road trip, Harper went 14-for-37 [.378] with one home run and six RBIs.
“I’m just trying to go out there and just try to have good [at-bats] and good things will happen,” he said.” I’m going to try to walk a little bit more, just try to get on base … and try to win some ballgames.”
NEW YORK — Blue Jays infielder Mark DeRosa said Tuesday that he is surprised the Nationals have been inconsistent this season.
Entering Tuesday’s action, the Nationals are 60-64, 16 games behind the Braves in the National League East and 10 ½ games behind the Reds in the second and final spot in the NL Wild Card race.
“As good as last year was, nothing is ever written in stone,” said DeRosa, who played on the 2012 Nationals. “But you get that vibe that it’s going to happen [for the Nationals] again. They are going to get on the track and they are going to roll toward the World Series [someday]. … The talent is there. Every season has a way of letting you know it’s not that easy.”
DeRosa didn’t play much for the Nationals last year because of injuries, but was a major influence on the young players such as Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina. Both players credited DeRosa for their ability to be successful off the bench last year.
“I was a sounding board for a lot of guys. I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind, regardless of how poorly I played,” DeRosa said. “The same thing goes for Michael Morse, a guy who kept the clubhouse loose, a guy people enjoyed seeing. The same with Sean Burnett, the same with Tom Gorzelanny. These guys were significant pieces of the team.”
After the season ended, DeRosa, Morse, Gorzelanny, Burnett and Michael Gonzalez all left the Nationals. Asked who is missed the most, DeRosa said, “It’s a combination of all of us. To not have the lefties in the ‘pen to start the year was a situation that could haunt them. But they felt comfortable going out in getting [Rafael] Soriano and doing all those things. They have done an amazing job over there.
“I don’t want to say they took a step back. I still say that talent is there for them to win a World Series. But for whatever reason, it didn’t happen [this year].”
DeRosa is having a productive season off the bench, hitting seven home runs with 31 RBIs. He could become a free agent after the season if the Blue Jays don’t pick up his option.
“We haven’t discussed anything moving forward. I feel good. My wrist is healthy. I’m hitting the occasional home run. I’m doing my job, which is very rewarding. Last year, all I brought to the table was a voice and that was frustrating, but I did the best I could — given the circumstances,” DeRosa said.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson is planning to retire after this season. Would DeRosa be interested in the job?
“God, I haven’t even thought about that. You think Jayson Werth would listen to me? I don’t think so,” DeRosa said jokingly. “I’ve been asked that question quite a bit, but that’s down the road. I have to run it by my wife. She has been grinding it with me for so long that if I’m not going to play, I have to go home for a minute and be a dad.”
ATLANTA — It was some kind of weekend for Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper at Turner Field.
On Friday against the Braves, Harper was hit twice by pitches and didn’t start the next game because of a left triceps injury, which occurred when he was hit by a Luis Avilan fastball.
“I really don’t want to comment on it,” Harper said on Sunday.
But right-hander Stephen Strasburg was able to get revenge for Harper on Saturday. Strasburg hit Justin Upton on the backside in the first inning after Jason Heyward’s leadoff home run, and warnings were issued to both benches.
Then with the Nationals leading, 4-1, Jordan Schafer led off the second inning and drew a walk. After that, Strasburg couldn’t throw a strike. With Andrelton Simmons at the plate, Strasburg threw three consecutive wild pitches, two of them behind Simmons’ back.
Home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson immediately threw Strasburg and manager Davey Johnson out of the game after the third wild pitch, which enabled Schafer to score. Harper entered as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the ninth inning and played the rest of the game in left field, going 0-for-2 in the Nationals’ 8-7 win over the Braves in 15 innings.
In Washington’s 3-2 loss on Sunday, Harper went 2-for-4, but struck out to end the game. With a 1-2 count, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel threw a pitch and it appeared Harper checked his swing, but Hudson, the third-base umpire in this contest, said he swung at the pitch, ending the game. Harper was clearly upset and was arguing with the umpires until teammate Jayson Werth told Harper to walk away.
“The home-plate umpire [Wally Bell] said no three times. He doesn’t want to check,” Harper said. “They obviously check and they bang me. That’s one less pitch I see against [Kimbrel]. He is a great closer. Trying to see as many pitches [as I can] is huge.”
Throughout the weekend, Braves fans were jeering Harper. How did he feel about being the most hated member of the Nationals?
“I love these fans, I really do,” Harper said. “These people are absolutely unbelievable for their team. If I was playing for a team like this and a crowd like that, I’d be stoked to play every night, too.
“But I love playing in Nats Park, too. We have a great crowd, too. Going to Philly, going [to Atlanta], Fenway, New York, there are so many great crowds. This is a baseball organization that really loves the Braves.”