Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals for The Washington Times.
Things are bad for the Nationals right now, yes. Things are worse for the San Diego Padres, the Nationals opponent as they begin a six-game homestand tonight at Nationals Park.
With Adam LaRoche out for the next few weeks -- and perhaps much longer if the rest prescribed for the torn labrum in his left shoulder doesn't solve his problems -- the Nationals, for now, are prepared to go with what they've got before looking elsewhere.
For five straight days the Nationals' postgame clubhouse has been silent. Five straight games, five straight losses and, understandably, not too many players who want to rehash what's happening on the field. But after Wednesday's 6-4 loss to the Brewers that dropped the team to 1-7 on the road trip and seven games below .500 on the season, right fielder Jayson Werth had some things to say, cryptic as they may be. Here's what worth had to say, along with a few other notes as the Nationals head home.
One of the key decisions by Nationals manager Jim Riggleman in his team's 7-6 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday night was to pitch Henry Rodriguez with one out in the eighth inning, his team clinging to a one-run lead. The decision didn't work out for the Nationals then, but it won't stop Riggleman from using his hard-throwing right-hander in the role more often. Riggleman said today he expects to use Rodriguez and Tyler Clippard as his seventh and eighth inning guys interchangeably, saving Drew Storen for the ninth and allowing Sean Burnett to be used when necessary situationally.
The Nationals are looking for just their second victory on the road trip and to avoid being swept for the third time this season. Unfortunately, standing in their way is Zack Greinke, making just his fifth start of the season. The good news for the Nationals is that Greinke is 2-1 with a 6.43 ERA so far. Here are the lineups and how they've done against Greinke in the past.
Twelve days ago, as the Nationals and the Braves went to extra innings, manager Jim Riggleman was handicapped by his bullpen. In a tight situation with the game on the line, and with a few guys who'd been used frequently, it was clear he was trying to avoid bringing in two of his relievers: Brian Broderick and Henry Rodriguez. Broderick, who was warming to come into the game if it had gone any further, has since been designated for assignment and the Rule 5 pick was recently accepted back by the St. Louis Cardinals. Rodriguez was pitching in a one-run game in the eighth inning Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel was back with the team on Tuesday afternoon, taking up residence as a healthy player on the roster for the first time since he rolled over his right wrist making a diving play in the outfield at Nationals Park on May 2. He was back, after an 18-day stay on the disabled list for the sprain in that wrist, but he wasn't back in his usual starting spot in center field.
Facing a left-handed starter in Chris Narveson, right-handed Brian Bixler gets the start in left field with Roger Bernadina continuing to start in center and leadoff. This could be an issue the Nationals have to deal with frequently with such a left-handed heavy bench if their roster remains this way for an extended period with LaRoche out and they continue to play Morse, a right-hander, at first.
The Nationals made it official this afternoon, reinstating outfielder Rick Ankiel from the disabled list, effectively filling the roster spot vacated when Adam LaRoche went on the DL Monday afternoon
Major League Baseball released a statement today saying that it had completed a review regarding the passing of Nationals Dominican prospect Yewri Guillen, an 18-year-old shortstop who died in April after contracting what was thought to be bacterial meningitis. MLB's review determined that the cause of death was in fact not bacterial meningitis, as originally diagnosed, but an infection in the brain that was the result of an aggressive sinus infection.
In his first six starts of the season, Tom Gorzelanny he was averaging at least 6 2/3 innings, opponents were hitting just .163 off him and he had a 2.87 ERA. In the last three he's failed to make it past the sixth inning, he has a 7.63 ERA and opponents are hitting .358 off him with a .419 average on balls in play. There's a clear discrepancy there. The one constant throughout all nine starts by the left-hander this year? He strikes a lot of guys out and he has a penchant to give up a homer or two... or three.
An MLB spokesman confirmed that Major League Baseball has completed it's investigation into a verbal altercation between Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and the umpires from the Nationals 1-0 loss to the New York Mets last Thursday.
The Nationals kept saying that their prized right-hander Stephen Strasburg was close to reaching the next milestone step in his recovery from his September Tommy John surgery. "Any day now," he'd throw off a mound, general manager Mike Rizzo and pitching coach Steve McCatty said last week. Strasburg announced via twitter Monday afternoon that that day had finally come.
Adam LaRoche will be shut down from all baseball activities for a few weeks and reevaluated to see if the rest will have a positive impact on the torn labrum in his left (throwing) shoulder. At this point, surgery is still not being considered but if the rest – and subsequent attempt to rebuild strength in the shoulder – are ineffective, other options would have to be brought to the table. The first baseman said Sunday that while he does not experience the same pain swinging the bat as he does throwing, he feels a lack of strength in his swing may be related to the tear. The move is retroactive to May 22.
If the Nationals and first baseman Adam LaRoche don't get good news from the doctors who are reexamining the torn labrum in his left shoulder, the lineup the Nationals are using today could be one they implement for the foreseeable future.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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