Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

Rizzo’s comments on Storen, Clippard, Nats

General manager Mike Rizzo spoke to the local media Saturday and talked about Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and the Nationals.

On why the Nationals sent Drew Storen to the Minors?

Rizzo:  We felt that he was struggling, struggling with his mechanics, with his tempo with his delivery, with his arm slot, and we felt that we would do him better by letting him go down in a less stressful situation, work on his mechanics, get it fixed and get back up here and help us.

What Storen needs to do to get back to the Major Leagues?:

Rizzo:  I think he needs to … I think it’s a mechanical situation to where he needs to revert back to where he was when we drafted him, where he was in ’11, but mechanically and tempo-wise and arm slot and everything, clear his mind, come back with a fresh, clear mind and be able to help us.

How did Storen take the news?  

Rizzo:  He took it hard like a lot of guys that have established themselves in the big leagues take it. I had a long conversation with him today and it was a very good conversation. I explained to him our rationale for it and that he’s a huge part of this organization and he’s going to be for a long time and just need to get him right. It’s very difficult, especially for a reliever, to tweak your delivery and get your delivery back in sync when you’re in a competitive situation at the big league level trying to win games. We feel that sending him down there, getting him in a less stressful situation, getting him with Spin Williams and Greg Booker, who’ve had him before, had him when he’s been extremely successful, I think it will benefit him.

“I think that he’s performed admirably in ’11, he hurt his arm in ’12 and had surgery. He was slow to recover from that and come back from that, and this year, I think that he was at a point where his arm was finally back to health and his mechanics went away from him. He has to get back to what made him successful – leveraging the baseball downhill, getting movement on his stuff and commanding the baseball much better. To me, the velocity is back to where it was pre-injury, pre-surgery, and now he needs to get back to the deliver, the tempo and the command of the stuff.

Did Rafael Soriano affect Storen mentally?

Rizzo: When you add a player like Rafael Soriano, we felt like we were strengthening a strength. We feel that we had a shutdown back-of-the-game bullpen that would shorten the games for our starters. We felt like that would give us great depth. All the things that we talked about at the beginning of the season. There’s been a lot of closers that started off as set-up guys and the case was we had three guys who had closer’s experience that we felt could finish off games and we felt the back-end of the bullpen was as good as anybody’s.

Please answer the question.  Did it affect Storen mentally?

Rizzo: I don’t see the reason why it should’ve. He’s a mentally-strong person with good stuff and a guy that we’re getting an established closer with a great track record and we felt there was another guy that added depth and power to the end of the bullpen.

What was your reaction to Clippard’s comments?

Rizzo: I talked to Clip also, and we’ve got an open-door policy here. His opinion means a lot to me. I disagree with his assessment of the situation, but you fight to the death to let them speak their mind and say what they want. And that’s what makes these guys what they are on the mound. You’ve got to have a certain type of attitude and makeup to pitch in the latter-end of these games. They’re a competitive bunch, and the one thing I’ve never shied away from is when we have a discussion, we have it man-to-man, eye-to-eye, and I certainly can take his opinion. Like I said, I don’t agree with it, but I commend him for having a strong opinion on it.

Did you decide to send Storen down before the doubleheader?

Rizzo: We made it before. We knew we were going to have to make a roster move after the 26th man and we felt that with his struggles with his delivery and that type of thing, that we were going to give him this opportunity to go back to the minors and figure things out.

Are you looking for a starting pitcher before the deadline?

Rizzo: Well you know we’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls. I’m not going to go much more into it than that other than we’re going to do what we do at every trade deadline. We’re going to try to improve this ballclub for 2013 and beyond.

What are the areas of improvement?

Rizzo: You can just press your recorder on this, it’s the same assessment that we’ve had for the last month or so. We feel good about our core players and we feel that we’re solid at our position players, we like our rotation, we like our bullpen arms. If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack. But we’ve got ourselves a pretty talented group of guys that we’re committed to and we like where we’re at.

Is there more weight on next year or this year?

Rizzo: Well we’re going to stay consistent with the same thought process we’ve had since 2009. We’re always worried about this year and beyond. We never make decisions based on the current season alone, so that hasn’t changed since I’ve taken over as GM. We’re always thinking about this year, improving ourselves this year, but when we improve ourselves this year it will be this year and beyond.

On Taylor Jordan’s innings limit

Rizzo: Well, we’ve got parameters in mind for Taylor Jordan and when we feel that he’s done pitching, we’re going to shut him down.

Are you committed to all eight starting position players?

We’ve got a good core of position players, starting rotation and bullpen, and we’re committed to 25 guys right now. We’ve got a good, young core of players and we’re committed to them.

Are you planning any splashy moves?

Rizzo: I still feel the same way. Like I said, things haven’t changed since we spoke on the trade deadline last and things haven’t changed.

Why are the Nationals inconsistent?

Rizzo: We’re in the midst of trying to assess that. I think we still have two months to figure it out and we’ll assess it throughout the rest of the season and come up with a battle plan in the offseason to try and remedy that. We still have a lot of baseball left, and we’re looking forward to that and like I said, I still like this ballclub. I still believe in it.

What is your relationship with Davey Johnson?

Rizzo: I think it’s great. I love Davey and respect him, and I think he feels the same way.

On Ross Ohlendorf in the fifth spot of the rotation.

Rizzo: Yeah, he’s certainly an option for us in the rotation.

What the story on Christian Garcia?

Rizzo: Yeah, he’s rehabbing his hamstring injury.

Is Garcia out for a while?

Rizzo: Well, no. We’re planning on him being able to pitch sometime this year. I don’t know exactly where he’s at with his rehab, but certainly the hamstring set him back because he was just about ready to be activated off the DL.

Is there any chance Davey won’t be the manager by the end of the season?  

Rizzo: There is no chance that he won’t be the manager until the end of the season.

What do you think of Randy Knorr?

Rizzo: Well Randy is a guy that I’ve had great respect for a long time. I think that he’s certainly a manager-caliber, he’s a manager candidate and he has a lot of manager capabilities and we love having him on the staff.

Will Knorr be considered the next manager?

Rizzo: He’s certainly a manager-caliber bench coach at this point.

What are the plans for Jordan in 2014?

Rizzo: Well I think he’s going to get every opportunity to be in the mix for the rotation next year, certainly. He’s pitched extremely well, I like his stuff, I like his demeanor on the mound, he shows poise of a major league pitcher and has the stuff for it.

Are you surprised by what Jordan has done in the big leagues?

Rizzo: No, I’m not surprised at all. We knew what we had with him, that’s why we got his feet wet in some major league spring training games this spring, and he was a guy we liked extremely a lot out of the draft and then of course got sidetracked by that injury.

Storen not feeling well vs. Mets

On Friday morning, Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced that reliever Drew Storen had the flu and needed to dramatically recover from the illness in order to play in the day-night doubleheader against the Mets.

But in the top of the ninth inning of the first game, Storen entered the game with one out in the ninth inning and was hit hard, allowing three runs in two-thirds of an inning during an 11-0 loss to New York. The biggest blow came when Ike Davis hit the first pitch for a three-run homer.

Why did Johnson bring in Storen even though he was sick?

“Well, he got to feeling a little better,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “Had to use him. Tried to get by with Ryan Mattheus, but [it] took him as many pitches as he could throw without taking a chance on hurting him. He had a new look, saw this new look. High leg-kick. Just left the ball up. That’s all.”

But according to two baseball sources, Storen was still under the weather when he entered the game in the ninth inning. Johnson informed the media that bullpen coach Jimmy Lett informed the skipper that Storen was feeling better.

“I know Drew is not feeling very well,” teammate Ryan Mattheus said. “That’s just tough, but I bet if you ask him, he would take the ball again. He is a tough kid. You have to commend him for going out there.”

Storen is having the worst year of his career. In 47 games, he is 3-2 with a 5.95 ERA. He was Washington’s closer until this offseason when the team acquired right-hander Rafael Soriano this offseason.

Nats’ Zimmermann not playing in All-Star Game

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann has decided not to play in the 2013 All-Star Game because of tightness in his neck. Zimmermann will, however, take his family to the event at Citi Field in New York and suit up for the National League in Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic.

Zimmermann had an MRI taken on Friday and it revealed that he had an issue with some soft tissues in the neck, according manager Davey Johnson.  Zimmerman last pitched on Thursday, throwing 6 1/3 innings and allowing two runs in 3-1 loss to the Phillies. <p>

“I rather be healthy than go out there and just pitch one inning and then have the whole second half shot,” Zimmermann said. “I think taking a few days  off, no throwing  and rest, we’ll be good to go.” <p> Zimmerman has had problems with the neck since the middle of May. He woke up one day and the neck started to hurt.

“I don’t know if I strained a muscle  or what the deal is,” Zimmermann said.  “I would wake up in the morning and it would be pretty stiff. As the day goes on, it’s gets better. Obviously, looking towards home, looking to first, I can feel the tightness in [the neck]. I don’t think it affects anything, but it’s a nuisance.”

Johnson spoke  to Giants manager Bruce Bochy on Friday afternoon and Johnson recommended that Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg or Rafael Soriano be considered for the All-Star team.

Gonzalez has pitched effectively for more than two months and looks like the pitcher that won 20 games for Washington last year. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his last 13 starts. He has a 2.18 ERA since May 1.

In fact, Gonzalez said Strasburg deserved to go to the Midsummer Classic. Despite having a losing record, Strasburg has  2.45 ERA, which ranks sixth in the Major Leagues.

As for Soriano, he came to the Nationals as advertised, leading the team in saves with 24 and has a 2.13 ERA.

Update: The Nats acquire Scott Hairston from Cubs

WASHINGTON — In need of a right-handed hitter off the bench, the Nationals have acquired outfielder Scott Hairston from the Cubs, a baseball source confirmed. It’s not known who the Cubs are getting in return. The Nationals have yet to confirm the report.

Hairston will provide power off the bench, something which has been lacking all season for the Nats. Before the trade, Hairston was hitting .163 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. He will be reunited with general manager Mike Rizzo, who drafted Hairston in the third round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.

Hairston’s best season in the big leagues was in 2009, when he hit a combined .265 with 17 home runs and 64 RBIs for the Athletics and Padres. Last year with the Mets, Hairston hit 20 home runs despite only starting 86 games.

Hairston comes from a baseball family. His older brother is Dodgers infielder Jerry Hairston Jr., who played for the Nationals in 2011. His father, Jerry Sr., played with the White Sox during the 1970s and grandfather, Sam Hairston, played for the Birmingham Black Barons and the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues. Sam also played for the White Sox in the 1950s.

As one baseball source put it a couple of weeks ago, the Nationals needed to go out and get a veteran right-handed hitter for the bench. The team started the season hoping that Tyler Moore could provide power off the bench, but he has struggled mightily, batting .157 with 38 strikeouts in 102 at-bats. The Nats feel Moore is better suited as an everyday player, and that could happen with Triple-A Syracuse.

The Nationals are probably not done acquiring bench players. The source indicated that Washington is looking to acquire a second right-handed hitter to add more depth.

Besides Moore, the Nationals feel that Steve Lombardozzi is better suited as an everyday player. He, too, has struggled coming off the bench this season.

Nats’ Harper ejected in first inning

Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper was ejected in the first inning after striking out against the Pirates at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon.

With two outs, Harper worked the count to 2-2 against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who threw a curveball to Harper. It looked like Harper didn’t swing at the pitch, but third-base umpire John Hirschbeck ruled that he did to end the inning. A few second later, Harper was ejected from the game. Harper then slammed his bat to te ground and left the game without incident. Roger Bernadina replaced Harper in the game.

It marked Harper’s second career ejection. The first one came on Aug. 29, 2012 against the Marlins after he slammed his helmet to the ground  while trying to beat out a ground ball.

Friday’s starting lineup for Nationals

Denard Span — CF
Ian Desmond — SS,
Bryce Harper — LF
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Adam LaRoche — 1B
Tyler Moore — RF
Danny Espinosa — 2b
Kurt Suzuki — C
Ross Detwiler — P

Thursday’s starting lineup for Nats

Denard Span – CF

Steve Lombardozzi — 3B

Bryce Harper — lF

Jayson Werth — RF

Adam LaRoche — 1B

Ian Desmond – SS

Danny Espinosa — 2B

Kurt Suzuki — C

Gio Gonzalez —  P

Nats’ Johnson plans to make changes to lineup

After watching his team get swept by the Cardinals, Nationals manager Davey  Johnson announced that infielder Steve Lombardozzi will start at third base against the Reds on Thursday.

The Nationals are looking for someone who can spark the offense at the top of the lineup. Lombardozzi will most likely hit second, which means Anthony Rendon will sit on the bench and Jayson Werth will move down in the order and hit fifth.

During the three-game series against the Cardinals, the Nationals scored three runs on 17 hits. Washington is now on a six-game losing streak at home.

“I’m going to have to juggle it up and do a few things tomorrow. Change the mind set,” Johnson said. ‘I’m going to get Lombo in the lineup, get him hitting in the top of the order. Move Werth around. He said some things to me after the ballgame. So just shake some things up a little bit. Little different roles.”

Lombarzozzi has been productive coming off the bench this season, going 10-for-29 [.333]  with three RBIs. When second baseman Danny Espinosa was out of the lineup because of a hand injury last week, Lombardozzi went 7-for-21 (.333) with three RBIs.

“Lombo is a great player. He has a little bit of stability. He is not a guy that goes out of his comfort zone,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “He is a very disciplined player. His routine as far as at-bat to at-bat and defensively, he is that sound [player] that we need.”

Werth, was hitting second, agreed with Johnson about putting Lombardozzi near the top of the order.

“He could help jump-start the offense. That’s fine,” Werth said. “I don’t care where I hit. We need to do something to switch it up and get the offense going. We are not manufacturing runs, not getting timely hits. Like I said, things are not going our way. Hopefully, that will help.”

Rendon has struggled since he was promoted to the big leagues on Sunday.  After four games, he is 2-for-15 with an RBI. Rendon replaced Ryan Zimmerman, who is on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury.

“Zimmerman is a big part of our lineup. He is right there in the middle. He could hit three or four either way,” Werth said. “That is a guy you are going to miss no matter what. Even without him, our lineup is pretty tough. We have to get by without him for now. It doesn’t seem like he’s too bad, so he’ll be back soon. In the meantime, guys are going to have to step up.”

Rival Q&A: Braves Center Fielder B.J. Upton

After eight years with the Rays, outfielder B.J. Upton signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Braves this past offseason. So far, Upton is off to a slow start, going 3-for-29 with just an RBI entering Friday’s action. However, his teammate, brother Justin Upton, is red hot, hitting .353 with a league-leading six home runs.

MLB.com caught up with B.J. on Friday to talk about the Braves, Justin and the Nationals.

MLB.com: How good are the Braves this year?

B.J. Upton: We can be very good. We have all the right pieces. We have the pitching, we have the bullpen. We have the lineup to do it. We have the bench players to do it. We have to keep doing what we are doing. The biggest thing for us: we are playing well, but we haven’t clicked on all cylinders yet.

MLB.com: How do you explain the fast start? The Braves lost only one game.

Upton: I don’t know. We are getting timely hits. Our pitching has been keeping us in ballgames. We are just hitting the ball when we need to right now. Obviously, we would like to do it a little bit more consistently, but it’s still early. We have a lot of season left.

MLB.com: How good is it to see your brother, Justin, get off to a hot start?

Upton: It’s something that is pretty cool to watch. Obviously, what happened during the offseason and the rumors that were rumbling around, it could have affected him. [Those rumors] haven’t affected him. For the most part, he has been carrying us. He has been doing pretty well right now.

MLB.com: How much has your presence helped him?

Upton: I don’t know. I can’t say he wouldn’t be doing this without me here. I’ve seen him do it in the past. … He is a strong-minded guy, he works hard and he strives for perfection. Obviously, you are not going to be perfect in this game. If you expect that out of yourself, you are going to get the results that you want.

MLB.com: What do you think of the Nationals? How much of a factor will they be in the National League East race?

Upton: They are a great team. Obviously, they showed it last year. They didn’t lose anybody and they have some guys back healthy. Like I said, they are a great ballclub and we know they are going to be around all season.

MLB.com: I know you are from Virginia. After you became a free agent, did you think about playing for the Nationals?

Upton: That was always a possibility. It didn’t work out that way. I’m an Atlanta Brave. I’m looking forward to playing baseball with these guys.

MLB.com: Did you ever think about playing on the same big-league team as Ryan Zimmerman?

Upton: We would like to do it. But sometimes, things don’t work out. We are always going to support each other. Maybe not as much in the series when we play each other. But we are always going to support each other. I wish him the best. We’ve always been good friends. We get together during the offseason as much as we can. I know he comes to Florida every once in a while. We get out and have some dinner. I’m always supporting him and he is always supporting me.

MLB.com: You spent most of your career with the Rays. Do you miss them?

Upton: Obviously, being with them for 10 years, there are some things that I miss, but it’s baseball. Obviously, there are some guys who stay with one franchise their entire careers. But I think to be at one place for 10 years is pretty good. I will always have a place in my heart for them and I’m always rooting for those guys because they gave me an opportunity to be where I am today. I wish them nothing but the best.

MLB.com: What do you miss about the city of Tampa?

Upton: I still live there during the offseason. I can’t really say I miss it because I’m there all the time. When I’m not in Atlanta, I’ll be in Tampa. The people and the city of Tampa, it’s a great place to live. They are friendly people, it’s a great place to start a family. For me, I like to play golf. It’s a great place to play golf. It such a great place to be. The weather is beautiful all year round. I feel comfortable there. I lived there the last eight years. Obviously home is Virginia, but if there is a home away from home, Tampa is it. I plan on settling there.

Friday’s starting lineups for Braves, Nationals

Braves
Andrelton Simmons–SS
Jason Heyward–RF
Justin Upton — RF
Evan Gattis — 1B
B.J. Upton– CF
Dan Uggla–2B
Chris Johnson — 3B
Gerald Laird–C
Julio Teheran — P

Nationals
Denard Span–CF
Jayson Werth–RF
Bryce Harper–LF
Ryan Zimmerman– 3B
Adam LaRoche–1B
Ian Desmond–SS
Danny Espinosa– 2B,
Kurt Suzuki–C
Ross Detwiler— P

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