Hanrahan to close again

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Plenty of news to report from AT&T Park as the Nats and Giants prepare to get going…

— Joel Hanrahan is the Nats’ closer again. Sort of. Following last night’s gut-wrenching loss, in which Joe Beimel served up a three-run homer to Pablo Sandoval with two outs in the ninth, Manny Acta said it was time to “go back to square one.” So today I asked the manager what that means moving forward.

“Square one means that Hanrahan can get a chance again to maybe close ballgames,” Acta said. “Because we have tried just about every one of those guys. And at the end of the game, you usually need a guy who can strike guys out. He’s got more strikeouts than innings. He’s had a few good outings. He hasn’t walked a guy in, I think, his last five or six innings. Give him an opportunity, because we need a guy back there that can come in and make people swing and miss. But that’s not etched in stone. It’s still going to be Wells, Beimel and Hanrahan, too, for the ninth.”

Does that mean Hanrahan will be the guy today if the Nats are up one in the ninth? Not necessarily. But I would think there’s a good chance of that happening.

— Jesus Flores is out of the lineup for the fourth straight day, and there’s growing concern about the state of his right shoulder. The Nats are hoping that another day off, plus tomorrow, will help the catcher be ready for Friday’s home game against the Phillies. But that’s not a given at this point, and the club may need to consider its options in the minors. Currently, Josh Bard and Gustavo Molina are at Class AAA Syracuse, with Luke Montz and Javier Herrera at Class AA Harrisburg.

— Adam Dunn is out of the lineup today for the first time all season. Acta said the plan never was to have him play 162 games, and today made sense for a couple of reasons. It’s the last day of a long road trip. The Giants are starting a left-hander (Barry Zito). And there’s an off-day tomorrow, giving Dunn 48 hours to rest his body before returning to start Friday. But boy, does that lineup look different without him in there. Josh Willingham is hitting cleanup today.

— Terrell Young, the top pick in the Rule 5 draft, has been sent back to the Reds after clearing waivers. Yet another Rule 5 pick gone bad. Jim Bowden drafted the hard-throwing reliever with the first pick in last December’s draft, and the Nats hoped he’d be a part of the bullpen. But he had a bad spring, then hurt his shoulder and spent the last month in Viera rehabbing. Well, he’s finally healthy, so the Nats put him on waivers, he cleared and he’s been sent back to the Reds. Washington gets $25,000 of the $50,000 they spent on Young back.

— Young’s departure opens a spot on the 40-man roster, which the Nats will use to bring Jesus Colome back on Friday. Colome, who has a 4.82 ERA in eight games with Syracuse, would have been up sooner. But league rules prevent him from pitching for the Nats until May 15. The short explanation: The Nats released Colome after last season, then re-signed him to a minor-league deal. The penalty for such a move is that the player can’t pitch for the big-league club until May 15.

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Mark Zuckerman

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