NEW YORK — As the Nationals get set to watch Chien-Ming Wang make his return to New York tonight, a few odds and ends…
– This play, made by Ryan Zimmerman Monday night, was one of the more outstanding ones that he’s made this season, but that list is a long one. The more Zimmerman plays, the more clear it was how badly the Nationals missed him earlier this season. He seems to be completely over the uncertainty and newness with his revamped throwing motion that caused some errors when he first returned. He rarely looks uncomfortable making throws and it seems like he makes one or two stellar plays every game.
Monday night’s prompted Nationals manager Davey Johnson to utter the name of Brooks Robinson when discussing Zimmerman, a high compliment for any third baseman.
“He’s a magician over there,” Johnson said. “I loved watching Brooks Robinson and Zim has unbelievable quickness. That play there, I don’t know how he came up with that one. Every day is a new chapter over there. That was a good one.”
– It sounds strange to say with the Nationals carrying 36 active players right now, but with Corey Brown back in Washington dealing with an infection in his knee the team was concerned could turn into Staph, Roger Bernadina still dealing with a laceration on his hand and Laynce Nix still struggling with a sore groin, they’re amazingly short in the outfield.
Their outfielders, basically, consist of Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Rick Ankiel and Jonny Gomes. Nix can hit but can’t run, Bernadina can run but can’t hit. Nix drove in a run Sunday for the Nationals with an RBI-single, but was hobbling a little bit when he got to first base and was promptly pinch run for. Bernadina’s wound, which came diving for a ball in the outfield last week, reopens when he tries to swing, he said. He took batting practice on Monday, though, so we’ll see how he’s feeling with it today. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Monday he thinks both Nix and Bernadina are probably still three or four days away and Brown’s return is uncertain.
– Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was named the team’s recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award. The annual award recognizes a player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. Fans can go online and vote for their team’s representative to win the national award at www.chevybaseball.com/clemente.
– Monday night was Taiwanese Heritage Night at Citi Field, featuring traditional singing and in-game music. It was a fitting first day back in New York for Chien-Ming Wang who will make his return to a New York mound tonight for the first time since his days with the New York Yankees.
Wang has made a lot of progress this season and has expressed a desire to re-sign with the Nationals this offseason after they’ve invested over $3 million in his recovery the past two years. Still, there’s no question that New York holds a special place in his heart and as far as his comeback has come, it’s a safe bet that it’ll mean a little more for him to do well in New York where he was so successful once before.
– Ankiel and Werth have been mixing things up in the Nationals’ outfield lately. Sunday afternoon, with a lineup card that read Ankiel in center and Werth in right field, the Nationals took the field and Werth trotted out to center field, Ankiel to right.
I asked Ankiel what happened yesterday and he shrugged and smiled. Werth told him to go to right, so he did.
Johnson explained things further: when he discussed the lineup early in the day with Pat Corrales, he mentioned that he might put Werth in right field and Ankiel in center but he wanted to talk to Werth first and see how his legs were feeling, etc. Corrales went ahead with the original thought, so Johnson switched things up later.
The two swapped spots again in the late innings last night, but we didn’t get an explanation for that one.