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Hammer reports, could play Monday

Mar 4, 2010, 5:11 PM EST

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Josh Willingham, the final Nationals player to report to camp, arrived in Viera yesterday and is at the complex today working out with guys who didn't make the trip to either Kissimmee or Jupiter.

Willingham, whose wife Ginger gave birth to new son Ryder last week, won't be thrown into games right away, but manager Jim Riggleman said he'll probably work his way into the lineup by Monday or Tuesday.

The Nats are counting on big things from the 31-year-old left fielder, who hit .260 with 24 homers and 61 RBI in 133 games last season. One of Riggleman's biggest challenges will be deciding how much time to give Willingham off to keep him fresh throughout the year. Some felt his late-season slump was a product of overuse, though Willingham told his manager last month he felt great all season and never had any recurrence of the back troubles that had plagued him in previous years.

"It's really an interesting dilemma," Riggleman said. "Because I like having him in the lineup."

Willingham will likely bat fifth again, behind Adam Dunn and in front of Elijah Dukes, though Riggleman said that could change over the course of the season. Regardless of where he hits in the lineup, theRead more »

  1. Jim here for Nats games - Mar 4, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    It will be good to see Josh again this year. He has settled in as integral part of the team and is a real asset. I expect him to hit better in '10. I hope he will a fixture in LF and not have any back problems.

  2. Anonymous - Mar 4, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Good write up Mark! Thanks! Hammer is one of the nicest, down-to-earth guys you will ever meet in the big leagues. I wish his all the luck in the world. If he stays healthy all year, I am predicting 30 hrs and 85 Rbi and a .275 average!

  3. Doc - Mar 4, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    Riggs needs to consult Davey Johnson regularly on line-up make-up. Davey was one of the first guys to make use of sabermetrics in putting together a lineup. I think he even did his Masters Thesis in mathematics with a batting line-up formulation.

  4. peric - Mar 4, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    Given Davey Johnson's sudden and unexpected power numbers toward the end … one wonders if he might have been using what many other MLB players were using.

  5. greg - Mar 4, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    huh. so you think davey johnson was on steroids in the early 70s?

  6. Sasskuash - Mar 4, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    How are Willingham's son and wife doing? I assume they are doing OK if he's reporting to camp?

  7. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 4, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    Sasskuash: Yep, mom and baby Hammer are doing well.

  8. Chris Needham - Mar 4, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    Considering how football players were known to be using in the 1960s, is wondering whether a player used in the 1970s silly? Well, any more than any pointless speculating is, at least.

  9. FOTB - Mar 4, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    "Baby Hammer" … like what Andy Dufresne used to break out of Shawshank?

  10. greg - Mar 5, 2010 at 4:04 AM

    it is, chris. because, as you alluded, nobody has any clue. even moreso when all you're doing is looking at numbers in hindsight 40 years later. now if you want to speculate that he was using greenies, i'd definitely buy that. i think most players did.





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