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The home stretch

Mar 20, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Steve Lombardozzi is attempting to make the club as a backup infielder.

Break's over. For the Nationals, who after yesterday's lone respite of the spring are back on the diamond tonight against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. And for your humble beat writer, who is probably 35,000 feet over North Carolina by the time you're reading this, en route to Florida for the rest of camp.

We've hit the home stretch of spring training. The Nationals have 14 more Grapefruit League games to play before heading north for one final exhibition against the Red Sox at Nationals Park and then on to Chicago for the season opener against the Cubs.

Much has already been accomplished in this camp. Ryan Zimmerman got his long-term contract extension. The top of a very talented rotation looks nearly ready to go. Bryce Harper impressed early but struggled late and was sent to Syracuse over the weekend.

But there's still plenty that needs to be resolved over these next two weeks. Let's run through the biggest issues still facing the Nationals as Opening Day draws closer and closer…

WHO'S THE NO. 5 STARTER?
Just when it looked like Chien-Ming Wang had locked it up, the veteran right-hander suffered a scary looking hamstring injury trying to make aRead more »

110 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. TimDz - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    The Morse and LaRoche injuries are unsettling. I get the feeling we aren't getting the whole story …

  2. MicheleS - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Thankfully, Mark is back in Viera! Woo Hoo!Agree on the Morse/ALR injuries.. geesh boys, get healthy (and you too CMW)

  3. 320R2S15 - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Man, I don't like the feel of this. Same old problem, they can't score runns.They did fix the pitching, and that was no small problem, but it seems like they always hope for the best possible expectations from to many players.Again, it will be fun watching the pitching, and maybe they will get lucky….I sure hope so.One thing I will say is that I'm not absolutely sure who is the better catcher, Wilson or Flo.Can't wait till they get started.

  4. natsfan1a - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    ♬ Let's get it sta-art-ed ♬ Oops, sorry. Little musical flashback there. Yay for Mark being back on the beat!Yay for (ST) baseball being played!Yay for my May Take Back the Park tix coming in yesterday's mail (with a Texarkana return address – glad I didn't chuck it without opening)!Yay for a thread in which I'm actually able to post!That should about cover it. :-)

  5. sjm308 - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    It was mentioned earlier but has anyone covered why Drew Storen has not pitched in such a long time?Had to chuckle just a bit as Mark wrote "No one on the club is suggesting Desmond's job is in jeopardy". They surely don't come here for advice do they? I like Ian and am hoping this is a break out season but people sure have the stats to bury him. I have mentioned this before. The one stat that stands out to me is WINS. Looking for 85 – 87 but honestly, I will be happy to have the first winning season here in a long long time.82 – 80 might not get us anything but it will be the best I have seen since the 60s.

  6. NatinBeantown - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    I'm with sjm: curious about Storen, concerned but hopeful for Desi, and itching to get the Nats/Expos back on the winning side of the ledger (playoff hopes aside, sub-.500 is the monkey most firmly gripping our club's back.

  7. Gonat - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I still think that trade happens with Lannan. Thinking to the Yankees for Swisher.

  8. Gardner - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Is anyone buying this story that Morse hasn't been playing at all because he has an injury that only limits his throwing? Is throwing a prerequisite for DHing? I can't imagine they wouldn't be getting him some ABs if he was good to go with the bat?

  9. MicheleS - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Gardner.. I thought I read somewhere that Morse has been getting AB's with the Minor league games. Lucky for us Mark's going down there and can get the scoop.

  10. Will - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    The only explanation I can come up with for why John Lannan will get the 5th starter spot before Ross Detwiler does, is that the Nats are trying to showcase him to the rest of the league for a trade.Detwiler has not only been excellent this spring, but Lannan has been bad. Lannan can also be easily demoted to Syracuse with his remaining option. A luxury which Detwiler does not have.It's time to give Detwiler a real chance to prove what he's got. If it doesn't work out, then by all means, convert him to a reliever. Lannan is a known quantity- a distinctly mediocre 5th starter. Detwiler has the potential to be much better than that.

  11. Will - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Also, everything I just said about Lannan and Detwiler applies to Desmond and Lombardozzi.Lombardozzi has been much better this Spring.Desmond is a known quantity: not very good. Worst case- Lombardozzi turns out to be not very good too.

  12. Theophilus - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Lannan ain't goin' anywhere. Which is good news and bad news. The telling sign is that National Emergency starters such as Stammen, Rosenbaum aren't getting any innings. Beyond Detwiler, there is no "break glass in case of fire" plan.Bernadina stays, too, unless is traded. The fact he is still here is mostly bad news — because he's the only player I can think of who might (in combination w/ other pieces) attract a RH hitter who surpasses the Carroll/Michaels Hobson's choice.That trade — if it happens — is going to look like a net loss, because the Nats will probably have to give up an average player (B'dina) plus other spare parts to get a player who will probably be average or less. But Bernadina is surplus as both the major league and high-minor rosters are stacked w/ LH hitters. How much of a "loss" the Nats are willing to take on Bernadina will be a measure of how committed Nats' management is to making the playoffs this season. Don't see Swisher as a possibility as he doesn't play CF. Also think he benefits from playing in the new Yankee Stadium and would not do as well here.

  13. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    I'm not worried about Desi, yet. The errors a little but not the hitting. Spring Training is atime to work on things and leading off is definatley something he needs to work on. Hopefully when the curtain goes up he's got it figured out.Morse and Laroche as with all Nat's injuries worry me. I DON'T TRUST THE TRAINERS. Its seems they have botched a few calls in the past years. Misdiagnosed and prescribed treatments. the calls for Zimm and Laroche to just REST the ab injury and shoulder injuries only to lose them for months after surgery was needed.I'm not too worried about the pitching or the offense I think we have the talent to get it done but Morse and/ or Laroche has to be healthy. I think DeRosa will fill in just fine for one of them. I worry the most about the bench. I'll admit I don't know much about the guys mentioned but they seem like AAA/ AAAA type guys. We're really going to miss the likes of Gomes, Nix, and Willingham. Hoefully Rizzo has done his homework and one of those guys will surprise us off the bench.DE NAT

  14. HHover - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Gonat How would that trade work for either team? Or is that wishful thinking from a big Nick Swisher fan?

  15. Sunderland - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Another home stretch item.It looks like the way the rotation is set up now that Strasburg would get the season opener, with Gio going number two and then later getting the home opener. Is this going to hold true? (Not that it matters).

  16. sm13 - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Mark, please tell us what's up with Drew. PLEASE!Morse's injury sounds eerily similar to Zim's last year. That worries me

  17. JaneB - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    1a! Loved the notes!Mark, for those who want to keep worries at bay…what would you say is the last date we should see Morse and ALR playing out there, in order to be ready for flat out play in April? I am trying to avoid premptive worrying, and mostly not succeeding. I'm glad you are down there to report on any Nats officials crossing their fingers behind their backs when they say no one is worried about these guys. They did that about Zimm last year, and we all know how that turned out.Beantown, I read somewhere that none of the clubs were stretching out te closer until about this point. Last year, we knew Drew was the guy, but the club held out that they were not going to name a closer till one sewed up the job. And we see how well THAT turned out. Phew.I want these guys to beat the pants off the Mets, and for Ian to start turning it around pronto. So does Ian, I'm sure.Enjoy the last of ST, Mark….and NatsJack and Steve and any other of you down there. To those who have just come back from there, thanks for the reports.

  18. lls45 - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Would definitely love to know what's up with Drew. Obviously he's not fighting for a job, but it is disconcerting that he hasn't pitched in almost 2 weeks.And I agree with JaneB, I would love for Ian to turn it around. Today would be a good day for that.

  19. NatinBeantown - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Will,On Lannan and Detwiler, I think you overvalue (early) ST stats. Lannan is a proven commodity with a long track record. Anyone that thinks he's not AT LEAST a capable 6th/fill-in starter is not being objective. Lannan in the rotation and Detwiler in the pen are places where they both have shown success, so it makes sense as the status quo.That said, if a deal comes together for Lannan, I think it's obvious that Detwiler slides into the 6th starter/fill-in slot. Given innings limits and injuries, that slot will likely get 20+ starts this year.

  20. Drew - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Natsfan1A:Thanks very much for the heads-up about the Take Back the Park tickets.I just checked my mailbox. My tix for Saturday, May 5, also arrived in a nondescript white, letter-size envelope marked only with a PO box from Texarkana, Texas.The envelope says nothing at all about the Nationals and I easily could have tossed it on the recycling pile with the other junk mail.

  21. natsfan1a - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Thanks, JaneB, and you're welcome, Drew.Another thing re. Swisher is that I believe he's in the final year of his Yankees deal (owed 10 million plus) and could test the FA market next year. I do like the guy, for the record.

  22. NatsBrat - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Past medical status reports from Nats' FO (ALR, RZim, Marquis) and current ones (ALR,The Beast)are like getting phone calls from kidnapped victims in Iran!

  23. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Morse and Laroche as with all Nat's injuries worry me. I DON'T TRUST THE TRAINERS. Its seems they have botched a few calls in the past years. Misdiagnosed and prescribed treatments. the calls for Zimm and Laroche to just REST the ab injury and shoulder injuries only to lose them for months after surgery was needed.Morse has a lat strain, not a tear. Confirmed by an MRI. LaRoche has a bone bruise. You're saying they should both have surgery now rather than rest the injuries? Doesn't rest heal muscle strains and bone bruises? Doesn't surgery cause further issues that need even more rest time to heal? What kind of doctor are you anyway?Oh wait. This is the internet. You're not a doctor. Never mind.

  24. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    games. need … games … soon…

  25. A DC Wonk - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    DE NAT said:I'm not worried about Desi, yet. The errors a little but not the hitting. Spring Training is atime to work on things and leading off is definatley something he needs to work on. Hopefully when the curtain goes up he's got it figured out.Dude, are you new around these parts? Don't you know that everything, from the bad economy to the bad weather, is Ian's fault?BTW, here's a question to all:At this point – what would we think of a lead-off hitter that has a slash line of .289/.338/.417?….I'm just asking because those are Desmond's stats for after the all star break last year.Oh, and, last season he batted .281 when he led off — which includes his crummy first half in which he batted .223 — and .237 when he was somewhere else in the lineup.Just sayin' . . . .

  26. Theophilus - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Swisher has good nos., seems to be a decent defender and sounds like a good team player. But I think the secret to his hitting success – is .254 lifetime success? — is that the six guys ahead of him in the batting order have worn out the pitcher before it's his turn to bat. The A's weren't that anxious to keep him. Between changing parks and a less potent batting order, I don't think he'd do very much in Washington. And at $10MM — plus whatever he'd think he was entitled to in FA — he's overpaid.

  27. SpringfieldFan - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Yay, my season tickets are on their way to my house!!! WOOO!!! (From Calgary? huh.)Also, I have a couple of spots left in my fantasy baseball league, if anyone's interested. We have relatively small rosters, and we use errors as a stat (because, after all, defense counts in baseball). The managers are mostly local Nats fans, though, sadly, we've had to admit a few who aren't insiders (but they're not vocal). If you'd like to join, go to http://baseball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/b1/register/joinleague and type in league #119517 and password is openingday.

  28. A DC Wonk - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    NatinBeantown said… Will, On Lannan and Detwiler, I think you overvalue (early) ST stats. Lannan is a proven commodity with a long track record. Anyone that thinks he's not AT LEAST a capable 6th/fill-in starter is not being objective.Agreed. Here's a challenge for anyone with lots of time: does *ANY* team have a #5 starter that posted an ERA of under 4.00, with 180+ IP, in three of the last four years? (And I'd bet darn few have even a #4 starter with that track record).

  29. Veronica - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Soft tissue injuries—like strains—take a longer time to heal and feel normally again. Rest is one of the components of the main treatments of a strain, so it seems like they're doing the best thing for Morse.

  30. HHover - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Swisher has a high OBP and is a 3.5-4 WAR player for the Yanks over the last 3 years. Even scaling that back for a different park and lineup, he wouldn't be a steal at $10M, but is unlikely to be a huge overpay either.The bigger problem is that the deal solves no real problem for either team, and would even create new ones. For the Nats, he's an expensive (even if not overpaid), one-year player who doesn't resolve their main OF need–Swisher's played exactly one game in CF in 2 years. The Yankees are deep in SP right now but weak in OF depth.

  31. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    HHover said… Gonat How would that trade work for either team? Or is that wishful thinking from a big Nick Swisher fan? March 20, 2012 9:10 AM Today should be interesting as to who gets on the bus to Port St. Lucie. All it took for the Yankees to have interest in Lannan was the Red Sox rumors. I would think with Pettite signing back with the Yankees they would be set.I know that Cashman has been calling Rizzo so it will be interesting to see what happens today. Rizzo has said he won't give Lannan away for little in return.

  32. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    John LannEn pitching at Fenway Park. Now that's an interesting prospect … and an 9.00 ERA.Folks, the reason LannEn hasn't been moved is that he has little or no trade value. The trade for Swisher is almost laughable. You could probably throw Morse in that trade, and Cashman might not go for it.LannEn comes north, gets shelled, Det gets promoted to the fifth spot and Wang doesn't pitch until June.

  33. MicheleS - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    And your morning swig of Koolaid

  34. Dave - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Hey, Springfield, how did you learn that your season tickets are coming? Did you get an email or something?

  35. SpringfieldFan - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Yes, the email came in late last night, from tickets@datagroup.ca. You might check your spam folder.

  36. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Sunshine, nice, 1 outing used for your analysis on Lannan in Boston. Thats how we should analyze all players, on one good or bad game.

  37. Exposremains - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    It seems like Flores is back..Doesn't he have more value as a trade piece than as a backup catcher?

  38. MicheleS - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    SprinfieldFan,On your email, was it really plain looking? No Nats logo or anything onit? Just want to be sure I got the same one as you.

  39. Barney - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Injuries that happen to 30-ish players, slated for health in "just a couple of weeks", always seem to linger and are the excuse at the end of the year for a poor season (wait 'til next year!). I would be amazed now if Morse is near the beast he was last year and if LaRoche is worth anything.Is Desmond going to finally "get it"? Unlikely but not impossible. Harper is still a year away from being effective against major league pitching. Thus, without significant trades, we stack up as getting better pitching than last year but not better hitting. This creates more wins and an above-.500 season (yaaaa!) but not a post-season contender. I'll take it…

  40. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Ankiel back in the lineup

  41. SpringfieldFan - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Yes, the email is super-short, no logo, no account number, etc., but it has a link to the FedEx tracking. I really would have thought it was spam if I hadn't been looking for it and waiting and anticipating….Excellent news about Ankiel.

  42. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Nationals have THE WORST training staff in ALL of SPORTS!!!! Lat Strain means Morse should have never been taking batting swings. He should have taken rest since then.

  43. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Anonymous said… Nationals have THE WORST training staff in ALL of SPORTS!!!! Lat Strain means Morse should have never been taking batting swings. He should have taken rest since then. March 20, 2012 11:00 AM Again, in hindsight, sure, Morse probably should have been shut down for a week. Luckily there is 16 days to Opening Day.It has been a warmer Spring in Florida so much less injuries like Ankiel had. All teams have similar injuries happen.

  44. NatsNut - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Over 4 hours since your last post, Mark? Sheesh, why'd you even go down there?(wink)

  45. Sunderland - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Anon @ 11:00, thanks for your reasoned and sensible take on the Morse injury. It's just so obvious that you can read vague reports about Morse's injury and have a much better idea of what his recovery and rehab regimen should be than the medical people who can see, touch, feel and talk to Morse and who can read his MRI and test his flexibility and pain areas.It's sad that from 1,000 miles away and with so little you know much better than those dopes.

  46. NatsNut - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Also, my money is that it's not a lat problem at all. Still thinking labrum.

  47. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Out for delivery.

  48. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    NatsNut, bite your tongue. That would mean they are lying. Imagine that.

  49. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Unless this team comes up with a lead off hitter, they aren't going anywhere this season–a fourth place finish at best. 7 hits, no walks & ten strikeouts–that is pathetic. Espinosa in the # 2 slot isn't working either.

  50. Feel Wood - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Also, my money is that it's not a lat problem at all. Still thinking labrum.If there was a labrum problem, wouldn't it show up on the MRI that they did to determine that there was no labrum tear? Do you really think the doctors are so incompetent that they're not going to check the labrum too? Doctor A: Hey, some blog commenter is saying we should have checked the labrum.Doctor B: Damn, I knew I forgot something!

  51. JamesFan - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    I too am skekptical about the announcements on LaRoche and Morse. If LaRoche has a broken bone in his foot, the hard core fans are going to go nuts because of $16M for two lost years at first base. Morse sounds less serious but could be a nagging injury all year. Spring training injuries to key players are tough to take, ask the Phillies.

  52. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Can Desmond get on track? No. He's not hitting and he's not feilding well. He's messed with his swing in some way that makes him even less productive than he was before. He's regressing. He's not the guy to leadoff for the Nats and it is not something that is even arguable, I don't care how much Johnson professes to love the guy. He's also not likely AT ALL to figure it out any time soon, if ever.They have to go in another direction.

  53. MicheleS - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Bobblehead and other giveaways. I love trinkets!

  54. Cease the Opportunity - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    Feel Wood said… Doctor C: Mike, it is a very slight tear of the labrum. It could heal in a month…Mike: Keep this between us, Doctor C.Doctor C: You mean you don't want us to inform you superiors? Eyebrows raised. Mike: You are still obliged by the Physician client privilege, are you not?Doctor C: My lips are sealed. Motioning with his right hand across his lips as though zipping them shut…

  55. bdrube - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Lineups for tonight are out. Lombo is batting leadoff (and playing 3B). If he does well there, he could win the starting 2B job (with Espi sliding over to SS) because that is what the team desperately needs.

  56. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Been checking my junk mail and my snail mail, nothing so far for either season tickets or Take Back the Park, but there are charges on the credit card. The number on the bill is for tickets.com, but they don't handle these tickets because I ordered through the box office (by telephone). So I guess I'll wait a couple of days and call… sure would like to have them in my hands… Y'know, touch 'em.

  57. A DC Wonk - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    This creates more wins and an above-.500 season (yaaaa!) but not a post-season contender. I'll take it… With the extra wildcard, you don't have to be all that much over .500 to be a post-season contender.As for the recent (meaning, last hour) rash of negative comments:Harper is still a year away from being effective against major league pitching.We don't know that. The top teenage star #1's needed about 1.5 years in the minors. While it's more likely Harper will be a force next year, there's some (not a lot, but some) chance he could be a force at the end of this year.Can Desmond get on track? No. He hit .289 for the second half of the season last year. It's certainly possible he'll get on track. (And, if not, Lombo's in the wings. Davey's not blind — he's clearly trying to boost Ian's confidence, to take stress off of him). Between Ian, Espi, and Lombo, I think we're OK in middle infield.…a fourth place finish at best.I'd love to bet the person who believes that.And now some folks are thinking torn labrum and broken foot?Wow. Someone was passing around the opposite of kool aid today, eh?To say that Harper

  58. DFL - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Not that the Nats would be lucky enough to get Swisher in a trade, but he would be a major upgrade for them. Swisher has been rather consistent as a .240-.275 type of hitter with medium power who walks a lot and has a high OBP. This has been true whether Swisher has played in the powerful Yankees line-up or in the more pedestrian A's line-up. Even in Swisher's worst year, his sole season with the White Sox when he hit .219, he had a .332 OBP.(Is there a curse, ala Adam Dunn, for power hitters playing for the Chisox?). Swisher would be a giant upgrade over Rick Ankiel, essentially the player he would replace in the Nats line-up if the Yanks were stupid enough to trade him to us.

  59. Will - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    A DC Wonk and NatinBeantown,I'm not saying Lannan is a bad or useless pitcher or anything. He's been serviceable, but Detwiler has the potential to be much more than serviceable. But if he's never given an extended chance to prove himself, then we'll never know. Which is why I don't see any reason to use Lannan before Detwiler. Wouldn't it be better if Detwiler turned into a pretty good pitcher? And if he doesn't, then so what? We have Lannan (and Wang) to fall back on. No harm done.And while I do think Lannan hasn't been bad, I would suspect his numbers would be quite a bit worse if he didn't have such a strong bullpen behind him. Through his career, he only averages under 6 innings (5.87) per start, which places a pretty big burden on the bullpen.Basically, I think it boils down to the fact that Detwiler's potential is greater than what Lannan will give you. So shouldn't we give Detwiler the chance to prove that? If he doesn't get the chance now, then when will he?

  60. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    MicheleS, thanks. Wow, what a cool article, I hope it comes true. I like Rany and Joe, always listen to their podcast.

  61. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Scripting Doctor conversations on Nats injuries. That's a new one.At least we don't have to discuss the pros/cons of having Matt Stairs in Spring Training and Nyjer Morgan. This time last year both were in Viera.Times have changed for the better!

  62. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Tracey over Bernadino, the shark has yet to prove he's a big leaguer and time has run out. Carroll over Michaels, Brett has had the better Spring both at the plate and in the field. nady in the wings getting in shape is the fall back if he can show he's able to hit.

  63. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Arodys Viscaino of the Braves getting Tommy John and probably the same for Soria of the Royals.

  64. MicheleS - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Okay people. the FedEx truck says it is out for Delivery.. PLEASE have the tickets at my house when I get home!And what is up with no Radio coverage today (I have given up on MASN)

  65. natsfan1a - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    NatsLady, fwiw: my (flex plan) tix came from the ballpark address, and the Take Back the Park tix came from the Texas address. I ordered both on the first day the respective offers become available.Sunderland, you made me LOL.

  66. NatsNut - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    @ Feel Wood,Um, of course that's what the MRI is for. No need to be condescending. Have you heard the results of the MRI? From the doctor himself? Everything we've heard has been vague and I think it's because it's worse than they're saying it is.

  67. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Dan Kolko at MASN does a good job of updating the Morse, Storen, and other current events.http://www.masnsports.com/nationals_buzz/2012/03/lombardozzi-to-lead-off-tonight-plus-a-morse-update.html

  68. MicheleS - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    I bet Drew was doing to much of that Hot Yoga! (Bikram, I believe)

  69. A DC Wonk - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Will,I pretty much agree with your analysis. (My ire was directed at those who think Lannan is awful). I'm actually fairly neutral on whether Det or Lannan gets #5 — as I think (as I've stated for a month or more) that the Nats are going to need 6 starters anyway.On advantage the Nats have if Lannan gets the call, is that we already know that Det can pitch effective long relief. I don't know if Lannan can.As for length of start — I found these interesting stats:Average length of start for MLB: 5.9 inningsLOS for Det, last year: 5.6LOS for Det, career: 5.3LOS for Lannan, last year: 5.6LOS for Lannan, career: 5.9I'm not drawing any conclusions from the above stats, just putting them out there.

  70. Feel Wood - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    @ Feel Wood,Um, of course that's what the MRI is for. No need to be condescending. Have you heard the results of the MRI? From the doctor himself?Sorry, I pulled a Kilgore in my previous comment so you clearly missed its point. It was reported that an MRI was done on Morse that showed no tear in his lat. (I wrote labrum by mistake.) My point is that if they did an MRI to verify that there was no lat tear, why would they not check for a labrum tear at the same time? They are located in the same shoulder, after all. Might even be able to get both with the one MRI.

  71. bgib - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    They said Jason Marquis would be fine with some rest. They said Zimmerman would be fine with some rest. They said LaRoche would be fine with some rest. Now they're saying Morse will be fine with some rest. Maybe. I hope so. But, who can believe them anymore?

  72. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. marcus welby - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    How have you people followed sports and perhaps played sports and developed an expectation that medical people and baseball know how injuries will respond to rest and treatment and physical therapy?It's juvenile to be knocking the medical staff for prescribing rest for injuries.

  74. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    DC Wonk, my only criticism of Detwiler's start record is his 2011 record was based on long rest between starts for many of them. It makes it more difficult to form an opinion. Detwiler's pre-2011 record is more indicative.Lannan had 17 starts of 6 innings or more last year. Detwiler when he became a starter again on August 4th 2011 had days between starts of 5 days 3 times, 6 days 1 time, 7 days 2 times, 8 days 1 time, and 10 days 1 time.

  75. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Sheinen says Storen has strep throat and was sent home again today.

  76. JaneB - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Lombo leading off today against the Mets….

  77. A psychologist said - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    A non-doctor said:They said Jason Marquis would be fine with some rest. They said Zimmerman would be fine with some rest. They said LaRoche would be fine with some rest. Now they're saying Morse will be fine with some rest. Maybe. I hope so. But, who can believe them anymore?Well, gee, that's selective, don't you think?They said Harper just needed rest. He came back. In fact, there's probably a list a mile long of guys who just needed a day or two or three off, and then came back fine. But we don't remember them, because it's so routine.Sheesh!

  78. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Dredging this up from medical school 40 years ago, every strain involves the tearing of some muscle fibers. A Grade 1 involves no signficant tearing of the muscle, which sounds like what Morse has. The problem is that overusing a Grade 1 can turn it into a Grade 2 (partial tear) and overusing a Grade 2 can turn it into a Grade 3 strain (muscle torn in half). The reality is that you can't rest a strain too much, but you can rest it too little. What's the rush? It's not like he's trying to learn a new position, and he's keeping his eye sharp in minor league games. Also, the power of an overhand throw comes from the lat, not the labrum.AD

  79. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    NatsLady, Storen had a cold then strep throat.

  80. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    NatsLady, I didn't hit re-fresh quick enough. You answered your own post!

  81. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Sheinen says Storen has strep throat and was sent home again today.Too much yapping on the MASN broadcast. Shut up and pitch, Drew.

  82. JaneB - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Expos, WE need Flores as our back up. Our baby catcher isn't ready. ANd much as I love Pudge, I'd much rather have Jesus's bat off the bench. No trading Flores.Looks like we don't get out tickets from FEDEX till tomorrow — they are in TN right now. Better than Christmas. Actually, that's the truth. Hmmmm. Glad my family never reads this.

  83. A DC Wonk - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Steve M. said… DC Wonk, my only criticism of Detwiler's start record is his 2011 record was based on long rest between starts for many of them. It makes it more difficult to form an opinion. Detwiler's pre-2011 record is more indicative. Lannan had 17 starts of 6 innings or more last year. Those are good points. FWIW, I'd love to see what Det can do, but, I do see that Lannan is a proven commodity and throws a lot of innings for the Nats. (Has anyone, other than Livo, thrown more, in the past four years?)In the meantime (to repeat myself), I'm wondering if there is a single #5 starter in all of MLB (other than Lannan) who, in three of the last four years, has an ERA of under 4.00 with 180+ IP.Lannan throws slow and has an unimpressive WHIP and a "is it lucky" BABIP — all of which combines to form an underwhelming impression in most observers. In the meantime, however, Lannan just goes out and gets results. A steady-eddy average, fairly reliable, starting pitcher, who'd probably make a #3 or #4 on at least half the teams in MLB, and give them 30+ starts.

  84. Dr. Kildare - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Sheinen says Storen has strep throat and was sent home again today.See — that's how lame the Nats medical staff is! We see this again and again. No talk of an MRI, just "go home and rest"! When will they learn!(dc wonk)

  85. JaneB - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    MichelleS. what DELICIOUS Koolaid! Thanks for that!

  86. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    DC Wonk, if they are going to pitch Detwiler #5, they better get him in the 1st rotation of some games here quickly.I'm hoping Lannan goes to AAA but gets a lighter workload there to keep him fresh. I point you back to September 5th against the Dodgers, Lannan gave up 1 run in that game to lower his ERA for the season to a very respectable 3.48.After that start, he finished September with some rough outings to finish with a 3.70 ERA.

  87. Big Cat - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Desi and Espy will never flourish with dingleberry as hitting coach. These are critical developmental years for them. You always read about Davey working with them, Davey doing this with Desi, Davey doing that with Espy. Davey is the manager…..Helloooo.

  88. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Brad Peacock sent down to AAA and Tom Milone as reported by Jon Heyman says he will make the A's starting rotation. Derek Norris was sent down earlier to AAA.

  89. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Can't decide if I should watch the Braves because they are in our division, or STL-HOU because it's two NL teams. Well, alphabetical order. Jurrjens just made an error, 2nd error of the inning.

  90. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Let me just say this about strep throat. It can evolve into heart or kidney disease (nephritis). I had the latter as a child. So still should be monitored. Here, this will scare yuz.Untreated Strep Throat in Adults

  91. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Teheran has given up 9 HR in 13 innings, and he couldn't be bothered to give one up to Harper? Yeah, the kid wasn't ready.

  92. Gregory House, M.D. - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Sheinen says Storen has strep throat and was sent home again today.I had to speak with an American accent for going on ten years now, and this is all you idiots have learned in all that time?? The guy has a virus; you don't cut his throat for that in this country, you sell him fistfuls of overpriced and over-prescribed drugs. Now, if you want to cut Ian Desmond's throat, we'll talk. Jerks.

  93. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Well, Braves candidate for SS (Pasternicky) is 5 for 40 and made "several" errors this spring. Everybody's got trouble. He's being chased by some guy named Simmmons.

  94. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    And that ends the Braves play-by-play. Gotta work.

  95. Steve M. - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    NatsLady, how's about Jurjjens, not having a good Spring. The Braves pitching staff is in trouble and having their own injuries.The Braves strength is that bullpen.I think the Marlins have the best lineup in the NL East, just not sure about their starting rotation.The Phillies rotation is definitely showing their age which is why they probably didn't trade Blanton at this time and their lineup is a hodge-podge right now.While some are complaining about LaRoche and Morse, every team is going through this.

  96. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 20, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Or Miguel Cabrera. The guy gets bumped from his position by the worst first baseman in MLB, has to go third, and gets a baseball in the face. Broken bones, not bad considering but not good. Can't be enjoying the spring much.

  97. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Desmond hit .289 for a third of a season (to raise his season avergae to .253). He finsihed strong, but is that enough given his history?His career OBP is .304, his career BA is .262. Could he hit .285 and get on base to a .335 clip, maybe (could he just as easily, if not more so, hit .240 and get on at below a .300 clip?), and would you bet on the high side if you had other options? Especially given that he has little power upside and an eratic (to be generous) glove at SS? The Nats have some options, maybe none perfect, but it's not like Desmond is any kind of reliable producer that they're trying to replace. Rizzo dreams of the Desmond awakening being something very special and he's afraid it will never happen unless patience is employed — ok, but it's getting ridiculous (how many years can the club trot out a bad fielding, no hit, K machine SS?). And why can't Desmond's flower bloom in Cuse and then come up and wow us in the Bigs (as the club is asking Harper to do right now)?

  98. Will - Mar 20, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    A DC Wonk,It's much easier to search for pitchers who have pitched on average 175 innings over the last four years (700 IP total), and have an ERA under 4.00.In that case, there are 42 pitchers who have pitched at least 700 innings since 2008. 16 of them have an ERA of 4.00 or higher (Lannan at exactly 4.00). 26 have ERAs below 4.00.It would be impossible to count the number of #4 or 5s who've done it, because Lannan too hasn't. He himself was a mixture of the #1-3 over the past 4 years.However, just a quick look at the other teams in the NL East's #5sMets: Dillon Gee – 4.04 career ERAPhillies: Blanton – 4.32 ERAMarlins: Zambrano – 3.60 ERABraves: Minor – 4.74 (with Delgado and Teheran eagerly waiting in the wings)Lannan doesn't stand out as particularly impressive even just within our own division.

  99. Knoxville Nat - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Do I understand correctly that tonights game is being televised on the MLB network? I noted that MASN is scheduled to televise tomorrows game vs. ATL and rebroadcast it tomorrow evening. The last time I went to watch the evening replay (I think it was also against ATL) my satellite provider had a message on the screen saying that this game was subject to blackout. Does anyone know if the Braves television carrier also provides an evening replay?

  100. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Lannan doesn't stand out as particularly impressive even just within our own division. You make a good point, that LannEn hasn't been in the #5 spot for the Nats, which is no knock on John; he's done what the club needed him to do, insofar as he could. Not his fault they didn't have much else.I wonder if "impressive" is really a fair standard for a #5 starter–that's sort of *why* they're #5, isn't it? If they were much better, they'd be in a different spot. On your list of NL East 5s, he's second behind Z, who is, how to say this, a bit of an anomaly. He's not a #5 arm, really, even now. And this is a good division for starting pitchers.

  101. natsfan1a - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Don't know about the Braves telecast or the blackouts. The MLB Network broadcast of this evening's game is a delayed one (can't recall the air time but it's in the wee hours of the morning). I believe that the same will be true for the MLB Network airing of Thursday afternoon's game.

  102. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    Desmond is not going anywhere soon. Post after post lambasting him do nothing except increase the comment count on almost every one of Mark's blog posts.Desmond is the SS of the present and immediate future because he is viewed as a guy with the tools to be a good ballplayer. Even though I and many others here doubt his ability to transition these tools into sustained success, the Nats, quite apropriately, are not quite ready to give up on him.I don't believe he has much more than this season to prove his skeptics wrong.

  103. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Knoxville, I did see that tonight's game is listed to be shown on MLB delayed at Wed. morning 3 a.m. You can record it if you're out, say, holding up a liquor store, or something.

  104. Sunderland - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Will said:However, just a quick look at the other teams in the NL East's #5sMets: Dillon Gee – 4.04 career ERAPhillies: Blanton – 4.32 ERAMarlins: Zambrano – 3.60 ERABraves: Minor – 4.74 (with Delgado and Teheran eagerly waiting in the wings)Lannan doesn't stand out as particularly impressive even just within our own division. *******Will, I have no idea how you decided who the "#5" was on these teams.Marlins will start Johnson, Sanchez, Volstad, Zambrano and Buehrle. By any measure, Lannan has been better than Nolasco, and his 4.50 career ERA, and ERA's of 5.06, 4.51 and 4.67 the last three seasons.Mets will have Mike Pelfrey in their rotation, with his 4.40 career ERA. Jonathon Niese is also a projected starter, with his 4.39 career ERA.Your analysis is deeply flawed.Lannan and his 3.70 ERA last year would have been one of the best #5's in the NL last year.

  105. blovy8 - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Nothing has changed in terms of the hierarchy. Health is the issue. If Desmond hits like crap for a few weeks, he'll be the utility guy, I think Nats management has always had an inflated opinion of his merits, if anything, he may hit for above-average power, but there's no way he's a leadoff hitter. Lombardozzi has those skills if he can adjust to the ML level. Lannan will be fine as a fifth starter, no question, and Detwiler still has a big lefty/righty split and hasn't pitched enough innings in a year yet.

  106. Unkyd - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    Sofa…. You're becoming one of my favorite peeps. Thanks for the back-of-the-rack S&G… One of those beautiful Arthur numbers, that reminds one of a monk singing plainsong… Never heard that one, before…

  107. A DC Wonk - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    Will wrote:In that case, there are 42 pitchers who have pitched at least 700 innings since 2008. 16 of them have an ERA of 4.00 or higher (Lannan at exactly 4.00). 26 have ERAs below 4.00.That's my point! (First of all, I asked for below 4.00 in three of four years, your requirements are easier, but I'll with that).So, there are only 26 that have a better ERA than Lannan? I'd bet almost all of them are going to be #1, #2, or #3 pitchers this year. And many here are saying that Lannan is not good enough to be a #5 pitcher. Do you see what's wrong with that picture?Lannan doesn't stand out as particularly impressive even just within our own division. I think you don't get it. Sec 3 gets it:I wonder if "impressive" is really a fair standard for a #5 starterExactly. I think for an average team, he's a #3 or #4 starter. I think he might have the best stats of any #5 starter in all of MLB. And that is my point.Sunderland also gets it:Lannan and his 3.70 ERA last year would have been one of the best #5's in the NL last year. Right. He's had a solid past. He has a proven track record. And he'd be great to have as #5. (Not saying Detw wouldn't be better, I have no opinion on that — I'm just saying Lannan is a proven commodity).And, look at how far we've come. We're arguing about a 3.70 ERA guy for a #5 starter! Just a few years back, in 2009, the Nats were dead last in team ERA (5.00)!

  108. blovy8 - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    I like DJ, but the Nats have screwed this roster by making imagining about Harper should/could make this club. Now there's not even a capable outfielder to go along with Morse and Werth, provided Morse can even start the year if the year. DJ's idea was to call DeRosa. Rizzo's idea was to sign Ankiel to a minor-league contract. Either of those guys getting 400 atbats means another 80 win season.This after they sign Edwin Jackson for 11 million to make Lannan superfluous, and at best, net a team-friendly contract or a draft pick next year.

  109. blovy8 - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    So much for editing, sorry. The team needs a bat. That's the upshot.

  110. Let Teddy Win - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    Just back from Viera myself, and I have to admit that I was a LOT more optimistic about the offense last year than I am right now. Just 1 year ago, Werth and LaRoche offered promise in the middle of the order. Bernadina, Morse, Ramos, and Espinosa were finally going to get a chance to break out. Newcomers Laynce Nix and Jerry Hairston Jr. were poised to add pop and versatility to the bench. Heck, even Brian Bixler hustled his way onto the roster with lights-out hitting. Of course Nyjer was a disaster story, and leadoff was a major hole that never got plugged, but there were other reasons to be optimistic. Half of them didn't work out, but that's baseball. It rarely all does. What I'm trying to figure out now is what hope I'm even supposed to latch onto for the 2012 offense. Bernadina's just a year older and running out of rope. Werth still looks lost, with Desmond right behind him. LaRoche can barely move. DeRosa looks like a very solid addition, but he might be kept pretty busy spelling Morse and LaRoche, and based on performance nobody else other than Lombardozzi seems to want the bench roles (yes, you do have to love Lomardozzi's hustle, but he hasn't proven to be able to give the team much pop).Rizzo's moves in the pitching department all look strong. Perry looks impressive, and Gio is my new favorite player. But at this time of year when hope springs eternal, I'm having trouble finding anything to latch onto offensively.

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