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Ready for Zimmerman’s return

Jun 13, 2011, 12:55 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Jerry Hairston and others filled in admirably while Ryan Zimmerman was on the DL.

Mike Rizzo stood in the home dugout at Nationals Park on the morning of April 30, having just announced Ryan Zimmerman would be having surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle, trying to maintain a positive outlook despite the challenge that was now facing his club.

“We’re going to continue to play without Ryan,” the Nationals general manager said. “He’s a huge part of our ballclub, but we’re going to have to find ways to win games without him.”

Six weeks later, Zimmerman is on the verge of returning to the Nationals lineup. After playing in five rehab games at three different levels of the club’s farm system, the third baseman is expected to be activated off the disabled list before Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals, the start of a nine-game homestand.

Somehow, some way, the Nationals have managed to win their fair share of games in his absence, going 27-31 since the day he suffered the muscle tear sliding into second base at New York’s Citi Field.

A .466 winning percentage may not be anything to crow about, but for a Nationals club that boasts one of the sport’s least-productive lineups,
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  1. SCNatsFan - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    To say we need him is an understatement, despite our record without him. You look at the job our staff has done and look how much we have taxed the back end of our bullpen; we might be winning but we always go into the late innings with a chance to blow it being up by a run or two.Kudos to our starting staff this weekend… amazing job.My latest dissappointment is Ramos; twice yesterday he had a chance to break the game open and weakly grounded into DPs. A smart hitter knows he can't do that. That takes over my current rant of watching Espinosa and Werth take strike after strike down the middle then swing at the next pitch, wherever it happens to be. I don't know how you can strike out so much and take so many good pitches; if I were pitching against us I'd groove the first pitch to them for strike 1 then wouldn't go anywhere near the zone until they proved they can lay off.

  2. hitterish - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    hello zim, goodbye stairs? now that cora and hairston can come off the bench to hit AND field? besides, now that stairs got a hit on a curveball (then bragged about it – see post article) can he claim closure on his hitting goals?

  3. Steve M. - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Mark Zuckerman wrote…Somehow, some way, the Nationals have managed to win their fair share of games in his absence, going 27-31 since the day he suffered the muscle tear sliding into second base at New York's Citi Field.That is truly amazing when you think about who played at 3rd base in Zim's place. A .466 pace for a 162 game season gives you a 76-86 record which is pretty much where we thought this team would get to and to do this without Ryan Zimmerman and with the almost automatic outs of Adam LaRoche, it can boggle your mind how the group they had in place got this done and still they are 2 games below their pythagorean which means they hit bad luck along the way..When the Nats had 2 or 3 ugly losses and that 5 game dive started in Baltimore during the 58 games Zim was gone, it looked like a free fall was in the offing but somehow this team put together some amazing games.I predicted in mid Spring Training that the starting pitching would be better than last year but I never expected it to be this good. The defense was promised to be improved and that has exceeded my expectations and the base running has been drastically improved.Still, Rizzo blows my mind and hasn't done much to improve upon the Opening Day roster other than the lucky injuries. Gaudin, Slaten, and LaRoche were all playing awful and all went to the DL. To date Rizzo has only made ONE DFA which was Broderick which was a high risk low reward move that backfired.The bullpen still needs a 7th inning setup reliever and a reliable lefty stopper. I can't understand why Rizzo won't make some moves to improve the bullpen as you can't overuse Clippard and Storen. Coffey is your most reliable stopper and shouldn't be used as a setup man as that is where he gets himself in trouble but Riggleman has 3 he can count on and 3 he can't count on (HenRod, Burnett, Stammen) and 1 he doesn't know (Mattheus). The offense as we have seen is inconsistent and will certainly be helped out by Zim's return. You look at what you have and just hope that Werth gets closer to what he is supposed to be and I think if Bernadina can get close to a .325 OBP in the leadoff, this team may start to score some more runs.

  4. baseballswami - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    I am seriously hoping that the organization makes some moves as the all star break approaches. I am afraid that they will stand patand play the rest of the season with the players we have. I am also very afraid of what they will do tomorrow when zim returns – can they really send Bernie back to aaa at this point and keep stairs and akiel? Does anybody see any trades, dfa's, demotions, promotions coming? I like the core — just some tweaking , please.

  5. Steve M. - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Zim will replace either Stairs or Bixler and my money is on Bixler. The funny thing about Stairs hit in the 9th was that the Padres were playing him deep in a 'no doubles' defense. That was a major scouting blunder as that cost the Padres. Stairs hasn't hit a ball over anyone's head this season but he was due for one to drop in too and in the end that turned into the game winning run scored by Espinosa.So does that hit save Stairs or was he going to be saved anyway?I am just prepared to read: Ryan Zimmerman activated from the DL, and Brian Bixler optioned back to AAA Syracuse.

  6. DCJohn - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    At this point a year ago, the Nats were 31-33. Then went 3-12 for the rest of the month Got swept by the Tigers, White Sox, and Orioles. Lost two of three to the Indians. The next fifteen games is the season. Taking three out of four from San Diego was so important. They were a last place team. It what you are suppose to do. I am sure that San Diego looked at the Nats, thinking that this where they rescue their season. You can bet the Cardinals, Orioles, Mariner, White Sox, and Angels are all thinking the same thing. For us the fans who are tired of being the doormat of the National League, the next two weeks will tell the tale. Being close to or over .500 at this point in the season is a realistic goal.Two other things: I like Werth leading off. And doesn't it seem like Danny Espinosa has been our second basemen for years.

  7. TimDz - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Mark, Does Bixler have options left? I am hoping that the corresponding move may be to DFA Stairs, but I am thinking he is going to live to see another series, or at least be held onto until the end of interleague play…

  8. Mark'd - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    SteveM, not to put you on the spot, what moves do you make to further improve this team right now?

  9. Mike - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    - Stairs for Zimmy seems kind of obvious. And I don't think he was bragging – more of a self-deprecating "I know I've been crappy" kind of thing.- What moves can Rizzo make besides moving one of our three catchers (and even then if you do that one of the future starters isn't going to get as much playing time)? Who are we going to give up from our system? I believe Rizzo's going to keep patiently playing for '12 and '13- Zimmy coming back is of course great on balance but I've got this nagging suspicion that the first error we have as a team is going to be Zimmy air-mailing a throw from a routine ground ball.

  10. HHover - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    baseballswami Any moves they make this summer will be for long term improvement, which could easily result in a short term worsening–eg, a trade that sends Marquis to the Yankees or elsewhere for prospects (it's crazy to think, as some have proposed, that the Yanks would give up Gardner for 2-3 months of Marquis).As for who gets sent down when Zim comes back – my money would be on Bixler, unless the problems with Bernie or Desmond are bad enough to send one of them to the DL.

  11. Grandstander - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Why does everyone think Stairs is going to be released to make room for Zim?I think Bixler is the obvious choice. Has there been anything on LaRoche? It's been quite a bit of time and no reports on progress on rehabbing. I think Mikey Morse is our new 1B. Another $8 million well spent.

  12. SCNatsFan - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    If Marquis wants to stay per the note by Boz then maybe we extend him and ship of Lannan in a deal to get a true player. Lannan and Coffey (oops, Lannen since he pitches better when we misspell) might be able to get someone who can actually contribute.

  13. N. Cognito - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    I'm guessing it will either be Bixler to AAA or Bernadina to the DL.Despairingly, I believe Stairs will be with us all season.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Stairs is here till June 29 which is our last interleague game in LA against the Angels. After that, all bets are off.

  15. #4 - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Adam LaRoche 2011 to 2012 will be the same as Jason Marquis 2010 to 2011. Don't count out LaRoche yet.

  16. Steve M. - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    Mark'd, I don't see any trades until July 31 and none of those probably will help this 2011 team so still hope Marquis is retained and gets a contract extension so Rizzo can concentrate in the off-season on other needs like a protypical leadoff guy.To improve today, I bring up Chris Marrero to play 1st base against lefties so Michael Morse can play LF. To watch Ankiel and Nix in games vs. lefty pitchers as the best option is not good. Marrero is on fire right now in Syracuse and also could pinch-hit, and I would bring Marrero and Zimmerman up together and DFA Stairs and send Bixler back. I also bring in Detwiler and send back Stammen or Mattheus or DL Burnett to get him right. Riggleman needs a viable lefty option and my hope is Detwiler can ramp up his fastball and become even more dominant than what we have seen of him as a starter in AAA.Zim will be a major addition and the other changes would plug some holes for Riggleman and rid this team of Matt Stairs.

  17. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    Stairs stays. This guy is harder to get rid of than Athlete's Foot in a sauna. I agree with N.Cognito…Bernie to the DL or Bixler, although the latter does have a little speed that we need. I think Bixler reminds Riggs of himself when he was a player. He stays, I say.

  18. PAY TO PLAY - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    #4 said… Adam LaRoche 2011 to 2012 will be the same as Jason Marquis 2010 to 2011. Don't count out LaRoche yet. June 13, 2011 11:23 AM Good point and agreed. Obviously LaRoche was playing with one arm and it was ashame to see him suffer as long as he did but as people paying to watch the games, we suffered through it too as it was hard to watch.

  19. Anonymous - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Unrelated question regarding realignment…Wouldn't the Nats be a franchise to consider moving to the AL given DC's historic alignment with the AL?

  20. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    Pay to Play…. I agree, but man, watching him play first after the abomination that was Adam Dunn was a pure joy.

  21. Steve M. - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said… Stairs stays. This guy is harder to get rid of than Athlete's Foot in a sauna.Too darn funny and too darn true. I posted my thoughts on improving this team and getting above .500 and doubt any of them will get done as I also don't believe Rizzo wants to do anything but DL people.This time of the season around Super 2 is when so many teams are injecting their young prospects into their lineups. Anthony Rizzo was the only guy on that entire Padres team that the Nats pitchers were worried about. Talk about a AAA lineup there in San Diego and Bud Black didn't think to move him up to 3rd or 4th on Saturday or Sunday. I think now is the time for Chris Marrero. The excuse is he needs to play every day and that is just an excuse. Only 5 to 6 players typically get in almost every game and the rest move around so Marrero would play 2 to 3 games a week at most but I think can help this club and see if he is a future big leaguer.

  22. bgib - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Marquis is sounding an awful lot like Dunn did last year. I think he's just posturing to get more money elsewhere.

  23. therube - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Sure, Zim's return won't instantly turn around the Nat's batting, but I can't help but think this lineup will relieve a lot of pressure on guys who were batting where they never should:1. Bernie, 2. Werth, 3. Zim, 4. Nix, 5. Morse, 6. Desi, 7. Espi, 8. Pudge/Ramos, 9. pitchMaybe this year has changed my perspective, but I really look forward to watching that lineup.

  24. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    First of all I thought Hairston and Cora did well in replacing Zim in the field. They did the job defensively, and none of us thought they could do it offensively, but they held the defense together along with the other infielders.As for options for Bixler. I thought I read from mark earlier in the month he was out of options (though I am known to misremember things at times).We have two series left in AL parks. personally I would use Marquis before I would use Stairs.Give Stairs his due he hit a line to center that the field was positioning against the Stairs of 2001 not 2011. I liked Stairs over the years, but at 43 he is not the player we need. As for Harper is he moving up after the SALLY league all star game? I sure hope so, he can learn the defensive position at a higher level as well as he can there.

  25. Knoxville Nat - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Steve M said:"When the Nats had 2 or 3 ugly losses and that 5 game dive started in Baltimore during the 58 games Zim was gone, it looked like a free fall was in the offing but somehow this team put together some amazing games." I think this calls for some recognition as to how well Jim Riggleman and the coaching staff have kept this team from falling apart and focused on winning ballgames. For all the naysayers out there Riggs has done a fine job with this team and the veteran role players such as Cora, Hairston, Ankiel etc (okay maybe not Stairs) have all contributed in an admirable fashion.

  26. Nats Outsider - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    I hope no one is expecting too much out of Ryan Zimmerman's return. Obviously, it's a big plus for the team, but he has been injured and out of real competitive play for 6 weeks. The guy is going to be covered in rust. His 2011 batting average is more likely to drop at first than to go up. Only as the days and weeks go by are we likely to see him make a huge contribution. When that happens, the calendar is likely to read "July."

  27. still waiting........ - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    i think Zimm's presence in line up will make a difference, even if it takes him a while to get going, but going by what he has been doing on rehab assignment, i dont think it will take long.i would move Werth back in the lineup rather than up. He doesnt seem to be handling the pressure well. Hopefully having our Franchise player return will help and i think he would have a better chance getting his confidence and swing back, batting 6 or 7 for a period.just a thought……

  28. FS - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Anon 11:38, I would love to see Nationals play in American League, just because of their history. but I don't see that happening. MLB is also going to look at Central and Western divisions. If I am not mistaken, they might just move Astros and get it over with. As far as Marquis is concerned, we need to sell high on him. If we can get Gardner from Yankees, that would be great. Maybe he can be our leadoff hitter. We should look for either that or lefty relievers. Yankees supposed to have one of the best organizational depth of all sort. Let us rip them off. We should have done the same last season with Dunn when it became apparent that Dunn is not going to sign with us. The one veteran I want to hold onto is Pudge. There are many reasons not to keep him. Ramos seems to have developed enough, Pudge is not doing much offensively, he needs enough playing time to reach 3000 hits. But I really like the character and wish we could keep him. Most likely he will be gone to many of the contending teams, struggling with injured catchers or allowing too many stolen bases.Our bullpen needs the most tweaks right now because Burnett and others are struggling. Riggleman can only use Tyler, Todd, and Drew in close games. Willing to give HRod some more time to sort his control issues. Maybe we can change either Detwiler or Gorzo in relief roles. Our fifth starter will remain a question mark though.

  29. Steve M. - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    Knoxville Nat said… Steve M said:"When the Nats had 2 or 3 ugly losses and that 5 game dive started in Baltimore during the 58 games Zim was gone, it looked like a free fall was in the offing but somehow this team put together some amazing games." I think this calls for some recognition as to how well Jim Riggleman and the coaching staff have kept this team from falling apart and focused on winning ballgames. For all the naysayers out there Riggs has done a fine job with this team and the veteran role players such as Cora, Hairston, Ankiel etc (okay maybe not Stairs) have all contributed in an admirable fashion. June 13, 2011 12:00 PM I think Manager's go with the record and the team the expectations. In Riggleman's case, he is playing right to my expectations but almost seems like he is being setup to fail by some of the players he has been stuck with. At times, his lineups have been AAA and he won those games.Rizzo delivered on athleticism and improved defense but has failed to make improvement on the 'fly' like good GMs do.When a team that is 6 games below .500 has only made 1 DFA, I have to question if that is the only issue at hand so I give a B+ to Riggleman and a C- to Rizzo at this point in time. Neither can be blamed for the injuries but sitting on your hands when you have options to improve this team and consistently do nothing is not acceptable.Slaten was HORRIBLE and it took him almost 60 games to make that move. Stairs is a joke and still nothing has been done. The team now only has 1 legit right handed OF in Werth and no moves have been made. Burnett has been bad and still remains in the bullpen. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

  30. natsfan1a - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Interesting post, although wouldn't the comparable stats be for June 6 last year (31-35, which represents the same number of games played as their 30-36 record does now)?DCJohn said… At this point a year ago, the Nats were 31-33. Then went 3-12 for the rest of the month Got swept by the Tigers, White Sox, and Orioles. Lost two of three to the Indians. The next fifteen games is the season. Taking three out of four from San Diego was so important. They were a last place team. It what you are suppose to do. I am sure that San Diego looked at the Nats, thinking that this where they rescue their season. You can bet the Cardinals, Orioles, Mariner, White Sox, and Angels are all thinking the same thing. For us the fans who are tired of being the doormat of the National League, the next two weeks will tell the tale. Being close to or over .500 at this point in the season is a realistic goal.

  31. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    You know who will break the no errors' streak don't you?

  32. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    still waiting…….. said… i think Zimm's presence in line up will make a difference, even if it takes him a while to get going, but going by what he has been doing on rehab assignment, i dont think it will take long.Make a difference! It's virtually impossible not to make a difference…

  33. N. Cognito - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    When you're #1 and #2 guys in the lineup have OBPs around .300, you're not going to score many runs; Ryan Zimmerman or no Ryan Zimmerman.

  34. Mark'd - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    SteveM, I knew you would have some ballsy ideas for improvement. Chris Marrero is ready in the short-term and maybe longer term. I still support Detwiler to the bullpen for 2011.

  35. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 13, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    @unterp.netWho is going to make the error? Zim himself?

  36. Tim - Jun 13, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    UNTERP.NAT said…"You know who will break the no errors streak, don't you?"Yep. Zim on a wild throw.I've got tickets to see it, too.——–I hate to say it, but the Nats will be sellers at the trade deadline, although Rizzo has a history of asking too much in return for our players. Marquis will be traded. He is peaking at the right time, he's looking for a multi-year deal (3 years), but he says he wants to stay. I hope he does. He brings a lot to the clubhouse.——–Re: realignment…I heard the Players' Union is looking at a plan with no divisions, two 15-team leagues, and five playoff teams from each league. Yes, the Astros have been suggested movers to the AL, but the Nats are an obvious choice… rivalry with the Orioles and the Senators' history in the AL. I hope not… I hate the DH and it means higher payroll.——p.s. I see the Nats going on a tear… winners of 12 out of 15, 20 out of 25 or something like that. The WAR stat is ridiculous. You can't say that Zim or anyone, for that matter, adds 4, 7, or however many runs to a win total. Zim might win four games with his glove or his walkoff tendency, but he also makes everyone around him in the batting order better… and that counts for something.

  37. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 13, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Unless Rizzo gets something better than prospects for Marquis, i would think carefully about resigning him for two more years. My thinking is that with Strasburg, Zimmermann, FA top #1 or 2, Marquis, Lannan. That wouldn't be a bad starting five…

  38. DFL - Jun 13, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    I apologize to John Lannan for writing him off a month ago. I've always rooted for him but it seemed earlier this year he had permanently regressed. Glad he's putting things together.

  39. Eugene in Oregon - Jun 13, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Re: RealignmentAgree completely with Tim on the DH. According to an article in SI earlier in the season, there's actually some chatter that it might be done away with in the AL (as part of a bigger package deal with the players' union). If you're going to realign the leagues and/or divisions, add an extra play-off team or two, etc., why not go ahead and kill the DH at the same time?

  40. Anonymous - Jun 13, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    So Rizzo need to make a move? With whom? For what? It takes two to tango, and some other team that wants something we have also needs to make a move. Who is that team? Nobody's talking. There are a lot of teams out there that aren't hitting, and they are all looking for the same thing we are–SD and FLA for starters.

  41. Feel Wood - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    "Wouldn't the Nats be a franchise to consider moving to the AL given DC's historic alignment with the AL?"No. Washington is physically located too close to Baltimore – only 30 miles or so. They would never have two teams in the same league so close together. It's a different era now than it was back when Washington and Baltimore were both AL cities (and BTW that era only lasted 17 years, from 1954 when the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore to 1971 when the Senators left DC) and during that era there was never a year when both teams drew well. Washington to the AL is not gonna happen.

  42. Constant Reader - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    I just bet a guy in my season ticket group that with RZim in the lineup the Nats are a better than league average team for BA and OPS (league average right now is .251/.704). Not that the Nats will raise their team averages to that level, but from tomorrow on, we will be at least .251/.704. Which side of that would you take?

  43. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Constant Reader said…I take .251/.704. or better.I think Zim will give them that "The Natural" 'Z' on the shoulder bump!

  44. Wally - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    I think NatsJack is 2 for 2: Stairs is here through the end of interleague play, and LaRoche's defense was definitely worth watching, even with lack of O. Morse has been surprisingly good defensively too, but LaRoche was on another level.

  45. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Thanks Wally, I appreciate that.And on another note, I'm with Feel Wood as the Nats are in the National League right where they originated as the original Nationals (changing to the Senators around 1897 or so) before entering the American League in 1901.And if they decide to keep divisions (3 five team divisions in each league)Houston makes the most sense by adding the 5th team to the AL West and establishing a true rivalry with the Teaxa Rangers.

  46. Carl in 309 - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Was wondering what the commentary would be like today with confirmation that Ryan Z. would be back with the Nats and at his old haunt at 3rd base. Didn't disappoint (or surprise).Since I don't have anything to add on the Z-man's return (beyond "can't wait!"), I'll confine myself to the bits and pieces here about realignment of MLB's leagues. Couple of full-blown stories/commentary showed up this weekend on ESPN–I found those informative and revealing (I'm not sure I'm enthusiastic about the two 15-team conferences–eliminating the two separate leagues; nor the idea of constant interleague play though I could get used to this latter dimension). If changes are needed, it doesn't seem like everything's on the table–given the profitability of MLB to the league and many owners (to say nothing of the players), why aren't we talking about adding two teams and keeping the two distinct leagues?And I for one will put in a word for the DH. I like watching players like David Ortiz and I'm happy to have a rule structure that keeps weak-hitting pitchers out of the batter's box (and I'm not much on so-called traditionalism–baseball's rules have changes systematically throughout it's history; I see nothing sacred about pitchers hitting–if I want to see that I watch a National League game; when not, I've got the American League). Someone want to light a match for this gasoline?And on a less incendiary note, what's the status on signing our draft picks, Mark?

  47. Knoxville Nat - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Carl in 309,Given that our first three picks are all represented by Scott Boras I would look for the signings to run something like this on deadline day: Goodwin at 11:35 PM, Meyer at 11:46 PM and Rendon at 11:59 PM.Anything earlier would be a pleasent surprise.

  48. Wally - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Knox – agreed. Early round picks don't sign early unless they sign for slot anyway, but I'll bet that we have signed a slew of the later round guys already. IIRC last year, they waited a while before letting anyone know about it.

  49. Tcostant - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Before anyone gets to excited about JZimm and Strusburg future, read this article –>http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/tom_verducci/06/10/yankees.pitchers/index.html

  50. sjm308 - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    Lots of good stuff today so here goes my two cents.I have wanted Detwiller in the bullpen for quite some time so I like that move. I really like the idea of bringing Marrero up and then having Morse play LF vs lefties. I have to hope/believe that LannEn is for real after these last 3 starts and if that is the case, I don't want to see Rizzo move him or Marquis for that matter. If Marquis continues to pitch like he has and is our #3 next year with LannEn our #4/5 we really do have a shot. I also like keeping Pudge and have mentioned that previously as well. I am in no rush to trade anyone as we near the deadline and like the way this team has developed. I think Cora/Hairston will only get better as they return to their roles. I don't understand Stairs value although I supported him in the beginning of the year. I don't think we have anyone in the minors that can replace Ankiel (has Brown done anything?) so I am guessing Rizzo will not be a big seller in July.Go Nats!!

  51. Tim - Jun 13, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Questions for Mark on this off day:1. Update on LaRoche???2. Update on Gorzy???3. Does Bixler have options?4. Is there any discussion by the front office to make a reliever out of Detwiler?5. Who's leading off Tuesday? Justin Upton? Roger Bernadina? Werth should not be our leadoff man. He needs to bat fifth, just like he did in Philly (and excelled). Should be: Bernie, Desi, Zim, Morse, Werth, Nix, Espi, Ramos, pitcher. Not a bad lineup.

  52. Mark Zuckerman - Jun 13, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    1. LaRoche scheduled to meet with team officials tomorrow and make a decision on surgery or no surgery.2. Gorzelanny making a rehab start tonight at Syracuse.3. Yes, I believe Bixler has options. Even if he doesn't, probably wouldn't be difficult to slip him through waivers and outright him to Syracuse.4. Haven't heard anything from the organization about converting Detwiler to a reliever.5. My guess is Werth will remain in the leadoff slot, perhaps with Zimmerman second. Riggleman seemed to indicate this wasn't a one-day or two-day experiment but something he wanted to try out longer. If Werth doesn't hit leadoff tomorrow, I think he'll bat second, with Zimmerman third, followed by Nix and Morse.

  53. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 13, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    @constant reader–sorry, gotta take the league there. The one hope, besides an unexpected trade, is Espinosa going all Michael Morse on us, and Nix keeping well above .250, but I am not optimistic for your chances there.

  54. JaneB - Jun 14, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    Constant reader, I take your side, and bet with you.This is the first I am hearing that we could shift from TheOne True League to That Other League. Glad…THRILLED, actually…the consensus is that we stay NL.I know NatsJack is really smart about all this stuff, but I am rooting for him ti be wrong on the Bixler demotion. I so want Stairs gone, what is the reasoning, do you see, for keeping him through the all stars break? Maybe it's a reason tha can make me feel getter about having only 24 guys in the clubhouse,

  55. Richard - Jun 14, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    Anybody know if there's been any intelligent analysis re how the Nationals managed to sign two guys — Marquis and LaRoche — to two-year deals when they were both injured? Approximately $16M down the drain … Very hard to accept. Not too rare, though, I guess, that big contracts blow up. I'd like to find an analysis of return on investmetn re these contracts. Such an analysis might even show that the Nats have used them less than average. Not signing Dunn, for example, might go on the positive side of the ledger based on this year's production to date.

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Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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