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Things coming into focus

Mar 27, 2010, 9:24 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Craig Stammen continued to make his case for a rotation spot today.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A Nationals club that seemed filled with uncertainty not long ago has actually managed to sort plenty of things out over the last couple of weeks. And with nine days still remaining until the season opener against the Phillies, there may not be many more issues left for Mike Rizzo and Jim Riggleman to sort out.

Sure, the Nats GM and manager need to decide who's going to start at shortstop, how to divvy up playing time in right field and whether to carry a seventh reliever or an extra bench player. But when you think back to how many pressing questions they faced back when the Grapefruit League commenced, they've really managed to answer just about everything of consequence.

And even more things came into focus this afternoon, both here in Port St. Lucie (where one split-squad beat the Mets, 7-5 in 10 innings) and in Lake Buena Vista (where the other club was shut out 4-0 by the Braves).

Let's begin with the back end of the Nationals' rotation. Riggleman said after the Braves game he wants to make his final decisions on Monday, giving Scott Olsen one last shot to make a case tomorrow against Atlanta. But let's be honest: This race is over. Livan Hernandez and Craig Stammen have earned the final two spots behindRead more »

  1. Bill C-H - Mar 27, 2010 at 9:59 PM

    Does Sean Burnett have any options left?

  2. Suicide Squeeze - Mar 27, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    When do they really have to have a 5th starter? If I remember correctly, their off days in the first couple of weeks means they could get away with 4 starters, giving them a chance to keep the extra pitcher and bench player for a short period — maybe just enough for the situation to resolve itself during games that count. Besides, it's not like anyone is 100% confident in the starters or bullpen right now, so having the extra guy in the pen and batter off the bench might be a nice luxury for the first fortnight.

  3. Farid in Idaho - Mar 27, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Gonzalez should make (or not make) the club based on 80% of what he did last year and 20% of what he did this spring.Anyone watching the game knows that his homerun was pushed over the fence by a strong right-to-left wind (need proof? Luis Castillo who has hit just 28 career home runs smashed one over the fence at the exact same spot). But he is a better hitter than Bruntlett and he sure looked good defensively at third today.I think Alberto comes north.

  4. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 27, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    Bill C-H: No, Burnett doesn't have any more options. So he's making the team. Plus, he's going to be the only lefty in the bullpen, further solidifying his place even if he hasn't had the greatest spring.Suicide Squeeze: They need the No. 5 starter on Sunday, April 11 (sixth game of the season). So they could maybe go for five games with an extra player on the roster, but they can't do that for long before they need the pitcher.

  5. Anonymous - Mar 27, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    What about Jesse English? Is there any inclination that they would put in the BP over Tyler Walker?

  6. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 28, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    Anon: They really like English, but he's never pitched above Class AA, and I think they'd like him to get a bit more seasoning. Definitely expect him to reach the majors sometime this season, though.

  7. CoverageisLacking - Mar 28, 2010 at 2:59 AM

    Mock and Stammen "won" rotation spots based on 14 innings each of work? This organization remains a joke.Mark, how much rope do these guys get one the bell rings? If they have 3 or 4 bad starts, does the next shmo down in Syracuse get a shot? Why not, right? They "won" their starting job based on that type of limited performance…in Spring Training, no less.

  8. Wily Mo Peterson - Mar 28, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    Mark, what about the 4th outfielder?

  9. NattyLite - Mar 28, 2010 at 5:46 AM

    wily mo: the platoon in right field means there is no real 4th outfielder, just RF1 and RF2

  10. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    Mark, I'm assuming Chris Marrero is already in minor league camp. How'd he look? Also Roger Bernadenia. Any chance he makes the team?





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