In his first six starts, Gio Gonzalez's hitting prowess garnered almost as much attention as his sterling pitching. So it was somewhat surprising to see the left-hander, who bats right-handed, not even attempt to swing on Friday night. That was on strict orders from third base coach Bo Porter and manager Davey Johnson, Johnson said Saturday, as Gonzalez is still getting over some soreness in his right (non-throwing) hand.
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals for The Washington Times.
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A day later, they could laugh about it.
One day after giving himself a welt the size of a golf ball above his left eye, and opening a gash that required 10 stitches when he slammed his bat into the dugout wall and had it carom back into his head, Bryce Harper was in the Nationals' lineup.
Friday night was the worst offensive night of Bryce Harper’s 14-day-old major league career. He was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, a fly to center and a weak grounder to the first base side. But it was the physical damage he did to himself that will leave a mark on the 19-year-old, at least for the next few days. Harper had a golf ball-sized welt above the corner of his left eye and required 10 stitches to close a wound opened when Harper slammed his bat into the dugout wall in frustration and had it bounce back into his head.
It's probably not all that hard to understand why, but it seems whichever city the Washington Nationals roll into, the opposing team's media corps are always interested in talking with Bryce Harper. Two road stops (outside his debut) does not a pattern make, but I'd doubt we're going to see the novelty on Harper wear off for a while. Either way, Harper was asked this afternoon by a group of Cincinnati media what he thought about his reception in most visiting ballparks, which generally isn't all that friendly.
Good afternoon from the Queen City where the Nationals will open a three-game series with the Reds this evening. Gio Gonzalez will head to the mound for the Nationals against Reds righty Mike Leake.
Here are a few thoughts, observations and leftovers before the Nationals descend on the Queen City...
Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson called a team meeting this afternoon. The purpose? To reassure his 18-11 squad that he was behind them "100 percent" and he had no plans to start making rash decisions and changes. Essentially, the message was simple: relax and play your game. Here are a few other notes:
The Nationals just posted the lineup for Thursday's series finale in Pittsburgh and, as was probably to be expected, there are some changes in it. Not the changes that most Nationals fans were clamoring for, though.
Davey Johnson, Rick Eckstein talk approach, opportunities lost and how the Nationals can stop missing their pitch
Davey Johnson has been in the Nationals' dugout for 112 games, 54 of them losses. After almost all 54, Johnson's attitude remained unchanged. "I'm a positive person," Johnson has said on countless occasions, preferring most often to take the blame for a loss on himself than put it on his players. But Wednesday night, in the visiting manager's office at PNC Park, Johnson appeared as frustrated as he's been after a loss in his 10 1/2-month tenure. Johnson said the phrase "I don't know," five times in his three minutes with reporters and, at least figuratively, seemed to be pointing the media in the direction of the clubhouse to find answers.
Chien-Ming Wang will pitch for Triple-A Syracuse Wednesday night. He's expected to go about six innings in his first rehab appearance above Single-A and test his strained left hamstring with the heaviest workload he's had since getting injured March 15.
With the Nationals facing left-hander Erik Bedard and his primary right-handed outfielder, Jayson Werth, out for a few months, manager Davey Johnson took the opportunity Wednesday to shake up his outfield a bit.
The Washington Nationals entered the ninth inning Tuesday night down a run with the heart of their order coming up. That term "heart of their order" has taken on so many different incarnations for the Nationals this season as they've coped with the loss of cleanup hitter Michael Morse, then Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche and now Jayson Werth. But Tuesday night, the "heart" was at least partly what the Nationals had planned. Zimmerman in the No. 3 hole, LaRoche behind him. And as if neither had missed a beat, Zimmerman singled and LaRoche cranked the 1,000th home run in Nationals history into the right center field seats at PNC Park.
The Washington Nationals signed left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez to a minor league deal on Tuesday. Gonzalez will report to Viera, Fla., where he'll be evaluated by Nationals' pitching coordinator Spin Williams before a decision on where he'll report will be made.
According to a source, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for his comments about Cole Hamels, following Hamels' intentionally throwing at Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper on Sunday night.