By Andrew P. Napolitano
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Sunday was the latest example of how the Nationals' bullpen may be a bit off-kilter as they pass the quarter mark of the 2013 season. The personnel is exactly the same as it was when the Nationals opened the season, but the way they've been used hasn't always been consistent — and neither has the performance.
In the slog that is a 162-game baseball season, the importance of the way a team starts the season often teeters on a high wire. Currently walking that thin line are the Washington Nationals, who lost 2-0 to the New York Mets on Sunday to finish a 3-3 road trip through what is expected to be the two basement teams in their division.
Talented but inconsistent Henry Rodriguez will be in the bullpen to open the season for the Washington Nationals. He can be maddening but it is still too early to give up on him.
They came in with a fairly firm idea of who would occupy each of the 25 spots on their Opening Day roster, provided they stayed healthy. And over the course of seven weeks, a long spring even by long spring standards, they largely managed to do that.
For a roster that was all but set from the outset of camp, the decision on whether J.C. Romero or Henry Rodriguez will get the Nationals' final bullpen spot, it seems, will come down to the spring's final day.
One day after manager Davey Johnson worried that Henry Rodriguez was dealing with some inflammation in his right elbow, Rodriguez traveled with the Washington Nationals to Kissimmee and was scheduled to face the Houston Astros on Monday.
Spring training statistics don't matter. Really, they don't. That's why Jordan Zimmermann stood in the Washington Nationals' cramped clubhouse Friday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium without a hint of concern on his face.
Caution over rules for the World Baseball Classic limited Gio Gonzalez to 42 pitches Thursday afternoon in his final Washington Nationals start before joining Team USA.
It didn't take Mattheus long to look around the Nationals' clubhouse this spring and realize that, of the relievers on the team's 40-man roster, there is precisely one who throws with his left hand: Zach Duke.
The goal this year is simple, as manager Davey Johnson has already laid out as plain as can be: World Series or bust. Here are five storylines to watch as the Nationals go through six weeks of preparation for the 2013 season.
The Nationals tell us they've started a new tradition here, one of winning. It is difficult to argue with the results. They've won enough to make the playoffs. They hope it isn't another 79 years before it happens again.
Henry Rodriguez's season came to an unceremonious end Friday morning when the Washington Nationals' reliever had a bone spur repaired and large bone chip removed from his elbow.
It was after midnight Thursday morning when Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo's phone rang. On the other end of the line was Jayson Werth, and he could hardly contain his excitement.
The Washington Nationals have done a lot of things right this season. But if they needed any clearer indication that the word is out on their inability to hold base runners, they got it with two outs in the fourth inning Tuesday night when Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee stole second base on Stephen Strasburg.
The Washington Nationals were up four runs Wednesday when manager Davey Johnson summoned Henry Rodriguez to pitch the eighth inning. The pressure was low, given the lead and the fact that he would be facing the bottom of the New York Mets' lineup.
He threw two off-speed pitches and, afterward said through a translator he felt "like the old Henry" but feels like there's more improvement to come.
Rodriguez, recovering from August elbow surgery, said he feels just "so-so" in his bullpen work but will probably throw to hitters next week. ...