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The Washington Nationals opened the home season Thursday with the usual bells and whistles. You had the Marine Corps Band in all its melodiousness. You had an American flag, bigger than a StrasBurger, unfurled in the outfield. You had a quartet of jets buzzing the ballpark. You had a volley of fireworks to finish the pregame festivities. And then, of course, you had baseball. Fifty-six-degree baseball.
It was all working out so easily for the Washington Nationals. The balloons marking the opening of Nationals Park for 2012 hung from the center-field gate. The stands were packed Thursday afternoon with fans clad in curly 'W' apparel and the Nationals' blockbuster offseason trade acquisition was dominant on the mound. The best start in team history was in sight.
The Washington Nationals were quite popular among the baseball media during spring training, drawing postseason predictions from multiple prognosticators. Virtually everyone spoke highly of the Nats' rotation, bullpen, defense and core youngsters.
For an organization that just passed its eighth birthday and has a history strewn with moments of ineptitude and instability, the tranquility that presides over it now is incomparable. For the two men who exemplify that stability most, the symbiotic nature of their relationship sets the precedent for the organization.
A week ago, as he was coming off the mound in Washington following one easy inning of work, Ross Detwiler shook manager Davey Johnson's hands and thought he misheard the manager tell him it was a fine tuneup for his next start.
The Washington Nationals learned early Monday afternoon that their closer, the man who'd saved 43 games for them in 2011, was going to spend his Tuesday visiting Dr. James Andrews and getting a second opinion on his tender right elbow.
The Washington Nationals' run of injuries to key players took another turn Tuesday. Outfielder Michael Morse took himself out of Monday night's game with Single-A Hagerstown after the seventh inning and was sent back to Washington to have his strained right lat muscle re-examined.
Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from right-elbow joint inflammation Sunday when he felt tenderness following a simulated game. Storen will visit with renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday for a second opinion.
A few hours before his team's third game, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson was asked, somewhat jokingly, if his team would ever consider getting an early lead.