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Losing with care

Jul 21, 2010, 5:51 AM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Luis Atilano can't corral Mike Leake's fourth-inning comebacker.

CINCINNATI — Adam Dunn sat in a folding chair in the middle of the Nationals' clubhouse, hunched over a laptop screen and watching video of Bronson Arroyo, the Reds' next scheduled starter. Josh Willingham sat right next to him, doing exactly the same thing.

The clock nearly read 1 a.m., the Nats had just endured an 8-7 loss that included a 2-hour, 40-minute rain delay and ended on a controversial third strike call with Dunn at the plate.

No one would have faulted Dunn had he just quickly showered, dressed and departed for the team hotel. Yet he was determined to linger around, determined to move beyond this exhausting loss and immediately start preparing for the next night's game.

In a town where he often was accused of not caring enough, Adam Dunn certainly didn't look like a guy who dislikes baseball.

Perhaps that's because he's playing on a team full of guys who demand hard work from themselves and from their teammates, no matter what the standings say.

"Ever since I've been up here, that's the one thing I've noticed about this team," Dunn said. "It would be very easy — last year, this year — to just kind of pack it in, with a game like this especially. And notRead more »

  1. Dryw - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Well said as usual, Mark. I wish there were something happier to write about, but….

  2. JayB - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Give them the best chance to win each night Mark?Then why not start Morse and Gonzo…that would give them better Bats and likely better defense. Riggs is blind to the data…a very bad condition for a MLB Manager.

  3. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    And why not, until Maya or others are ready, give Chico or Martis a chance to start instead of sending Atilano out there again?

  4. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 21, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    I would not hesitate to option Atilano to Syracuse IMMEDIATELY and recall Chico for his replacement. Matt pitched last Sunday (shut out for 7 innings) and could easily stretch his next start to Sunday in place of Atilano.

  5. HHover - Jul 21, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Nice comments–and a great performance–from Morse, and I hope Riggs rewards him with a start tonight–he hasn't had one since before the All-Star break. But since Arroyo is a righty and Riggs loves him some righty-lefty match-ups, I'm not holding my breath.

  6. Bowdenball - Jul 21, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    I almost always hate the "we tried our hardest," "we gave it our all," we really CARE about winning " garbage we're hearing from the team lately. This ain't little league. It's your job to try your hardest, a job for which you are paid handsomely. And it's the club's responsibility to turn that effort into victory, not to be proud of you for trying hard.In this case, however, I have to give credit to the guys for fighting back on what had to have been an absolutely miserable, night for them. Good for them, and I'll be in front of the TV with a beer cheering my fool head off again from the guys tonight. Hope they give the kid another good effort.

  7. Doc - Jul 21, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Mark, nice opening and closing, in the article, with Dunn and Willingham. A team of gamers will eventually win. If Riggs really hates losing why aren't Gonzo and Morse in the lineup more? Kennedy's days as a successful middle infielder are pretty much over.

  8. Dave Nichols - Jul 21, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Dunn can care all he wants, but he needed to catch or block that ball from Zimmerman last night. That's the reason Dunn won't get $15 million per year — at least from an NL team.

  9. WillC - Jul 21, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    This is exactly what I predicted would happen, if the Nats started Atilano against the Reds. The Nats had no chance to win. Sure they fought hard to come back, but Atilano put them in a difficult position. I really hope Rizzo will allow someone else to step up. At this point, Chico definitely deserves another shot.

  10. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    lest we forget – Slaten didn't help. shorter leash would have been nice. Anyone else who thought he was unlikely to get out of a first/third no out situation?

  11. Pleathora O' Pitchers - Jul 21, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Please send down Atilano immediately! JimBo took a chance on this kid coming back from TJ surgery and his a nice AAA pitcher but please get him out of the rotation NOW he is overmatched!Mark: can you lay out the timetable once again for everyone for the reinforcements (Olsen et al including Maya) and what the corresponding moves might be? By my count, pending the move on Atilano we have 10 starters ready to go by August 1st. Without supplanting SS or Livo that leaves 3 spots in the rotation for 8 guys, Rizzo has to have some moves in his back pocket unless he plans on shifting lots of bodies down a level in the minors, i.e., Lannan to Potomac!? Finally any thoughts who gets bumped off the 40 man roster to make room for Maya???

  12. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Last night Mike Rizzo indicated that he thought Olsen and Marquis would get to the majors before Zimmermann. That Yunieski May Mendizula was a battle-tested major league ready Cuban version of aCY Young award winner. He also said that he doesn't mind at all having 8-12 starting pitchers for 5 spots. He believes competition breeds success. Bottom line: they are all competing for these 5 positions. If they don't do the job they likely will get supplanted by one of the other guys.

  13. Drew - Jul 21, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    Anyone else notice last night when Harris(BB) returned to the dugout after scoring on Morse's clutch base-clearing triple, he got a enthusiastic hug and pep talk from Riggleman. And when Morse came into the dugout after scoring on Desmond's double? All he got was a silent, blase' high five!I think that speaks volumes about why Harris continues to start/play over Morse. Obviously it's something personal.

  14. FOTB - Jul 21, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    Just read that the Mets signed the Chief. Good for him. Hope he does well whenever he pitches against any other team but the Nats.

  15. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    Enough! Enough! Mark, you may believe in this team all you want. However, as a professional you need to learn to tell it as it is. Your words are no better than those of Riggs and Rizzo. "We try, we really care, we etc…etc…" Enough, enough, enough! Management needs to make the moves that make me believe they really care! Some people do not like the comments of Dibble and Ray but, to me, they tell it like it is. This is no time for 'feel good' approaches. It is time for improving a hopeless team.

  16. natsfan1a - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Yeah, no doubt that bit of "professional advice" carries a lot of weight, coming as it does from an anonymous Internet commenter…

  17. natsfan1a - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    In other news, good luck to the Chief (or at least, when he's not facing the Nats). I was kinda hoping the Nats might pick him up.

  18. FOTB - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    natsfan1a … thumbs up on your 12:20 post.

  19. FOTB - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    natsfan1a … oops … make that a thumbs up on your 12:27 post. Sorry.

  20. HHover - Jul 21, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    Anon @ 12:20 – I'm sick of some of Riggs' pollyanna pronouncements too, but honestly, what do you expect him to say? Ripping guys in public clearly isn't his style, and it usually isn't the best way for any manager to motivate his players–unless there's a realistic threat of replacing them, which for many of these dogs, there isn't. On top of that, some of these guys (whatever we think of them) are potential trade bait, and running them down in public would be counter-productive.Riggs is a manager, but when he's talking in public, he's essentially a salesman, and you shouldn't be surprised to hear him talking like one.

  21. Dave - Jul 21, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    I'm with natsfan1a. All you yahoos who won't even attach a PSEUDONYM to your posts should really just keep your mouths shut (or your typing fingers idle) when it come sto giving Mark Zuckerman and his colleagues advice.You idiots who tell Mark and other journalists they "need" to ask this or that question or "need" to challenge the front office have no idea what these guys actually do for a living.Get your own blog, get your own press credentials, and then alienate your daily sources all you want to. Good luck with that.

  22. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 21, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    Good Job Dave!

  23. jamalik - Jul 21, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    Also along the lines of natsfan1a… There is a beautiful article a few weeks back in the New Yorker about what Zuckerman has gone through to keep in contact with this team. If you have no idea what this man has done, kindly shut your mouth and go back to 4chan.

  24. Knoxville Nat - Jul 21, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    Drew,In regards to your comments about the difference in how Riggleman greeted Harris compared to how he greeted Morse I would be careful how much you read into that. My guess is that Riggs is simply trying to keep Harris on an upbeat (and he has had some good at bats in the past week)and offering him encouragement in what has been a difficult season for Willie. At the same time his greeting of Morse is not unusual or different in how he greets Zimmerman, Dunn etc.

  25. Brian - Jul 21, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    A good article pointing out the pros and cons of trading Capps: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&page=starting9/100721

  26. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    >>>The impending signing of Cuban right-hander Yuneski Maya, who Mike Rizzo said could be pitching in the majors within weeks…<<<What? Within weeks???

  27. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    I think that speaks volumes about why Harris continues to start/play over Morse. Obviously it's something personal.Okay, now I'm really scared.

  28. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    And why not, until Maya or others are ready, give Chico or Martis a chance to start instead of sending Atilano out there again?And how about Arneson who has been doing well in Syracuse? And Detwiler? And Thompson has been coming around?

  29. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    La próxima semana el lanzador se someterá a un examen físico en Washington para completar las negociaciones. No se ofrecieron detalles económicos, pero no se descarta que Maya debute en Grandes Ligas en cualquier momento de lo que resta de la temporada 2010.What? Within weeks???This report says next week anon … sheesh. And that would complete the negotiations. No details of the renumeration available. Not sure he appears in the majors during the rest of the 2010 season. But based on Rizzo's comments I think he may be there in August at the latest.

  30. A DC Wonk - Jul 21, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    Hey — I have an idea for The OnionHave an "I'm goin' to Disney World" kind of commercial.We can have Mark interviewing Morse as he comes off the field after he just hit for the cycle. Mark can say, "So, what are you going to do now?!"And Morse can reply, "I'm going to . . . the bench to sit for a few more days!!"

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