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The good, the bad and the ugly

Mar 12, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

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The Nationals have another round of split-squad games this afternoon, after which they will have completed exactly one-half of the Grapefruit League schedule (15 games down, 15 to go).

With that in mind, this seems like as good a time as any to highlight the best, the worst and the unsightliest performances of the spring to date…

THE GOOD: Jordan Zimmermann
The right-hander simply couldn’t have mapped out his spring any better than this. He has made three starts. He has added one inning each time he’s taken the mound (from 2 to 3 to 4). He has yet to give up a run and in nine total innings has put only four batters on base (three hits and a walk) while striking out nine. Yes, Zimmermann has pitched the equivalent of a 3-hit shutout so far this spring. Only one other pitcher in a big-league camp has tossed nine scoreless innings to date: Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner (who has surrendered eight hits to Zimmerman’s three).

THE BAD: Rafael Soriano
Two appearances. Seven runs allowed. Eight hits surrendered. Opposing batters are 8-for-13 against him this spring. Not exactly what you’re looking for out of the highest-paid reliever in the sport. Soriano insists there’s no reason to be concerned, and he does have a history of terrible spring performances preceding quality seasons. Still, there is nothing positive that can be drawn from a 37.80 ERA, no matter the date on the calendar.

THE UGLY: Nate McLouth and Scott Hairston
Mike Rizzo made a major point of improving his bench over the last eight months, trading for Hairston, signing McLouth and taking on $15.75 million over two seasons in the process. So, how have the two veterans performed to date? They’re hitting a combined .114 (4-for-35) with three walks and 15 strikeouts. Again, the numbers don’t count in March, but the Nationals want to exude enough confidence in their fourth and fifth outfielders to give each regular playing time and let Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth take days off. Tough to exude a whole lotta confidence with those numbers.

THE GOOD: The running game
Matt Williams wants the Nationals to be aggressive-but-smart on the basepaths, and they have been to date. They’ve successfully stolen 10 bases while getting caught only three times. They’ve also been effective taking extra bases on hits and forcing the issue. All the while, they’ve shown improvement in preventing the opposition from taking extra bases against them. Opponents have swiped only six bases against the Nationals. Only the Cubs, Marlins and Cardinals have surrendered fewer among NL clubs.

THE BAD: Errors
Though they’ve made plenty of nice plays in the field and overall appear improved from a defensive standpoint, the Nationals have still been charged with 18 errors in 13 spring training games. Only the Braves (19) have been charged with more among NL teams.

THE UGLY: Mike Fontenot
Not to pick on one guy who faced long odds to make the club even with a strong spring, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact Fontenot has been charged with a staggering five errors in only 36 2/3 innings in the field. The veteran infielder hasn’t exactly helped his already-slim chances.

THE GOOD: Ryan Zimmerman
Zero errors in 25 innings at third base so far. He’s not completely out of the woods yet, but he’s on the right track.

  1. unterp - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    Rafael Soriano: 37.80 avg.; that’s a Wilt Chamberlain like number. Good for him…

    • adcwonk - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      Ha! A classic line from Mark:

      “there is nothing positive that can be drawn from a 37.80 ERA”

    • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      haha, good take!!

  2. ArVAFan - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:04 AM

    If Zimmermann can keep up his performance, we won’t need to see Soriano, because Z can pitch a complete game at that rate.

    I’d like to see Fister for the home opener, if for no other reason than we haven’t seen him–and neither have the Braves.

    • karlkolchak - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:23 AM

      Fister started against the Braves last year on April 28th. Got the win while allowing 3 ERs on 6 Hs and 8 Ks in 7 IP. The strikeout total matched his third highest of single game tally of the year.

  3. natsjackinfl - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    Scott Hairston is an expected mauler of lefty pitching but the majority of his at bats have come against right handers. Unfortunately, he has hit neither.

    I haven’t seen enough of McClouth yet.

    On a note about yesterday, before first pitch I would walk up to an unassuming Yankee fan and say “I know Yankees front office people wanted to discredit A-Rod, but who’s this chick Anna penciled in at third base today? “

    • natinalsgo - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      That’s cruel but funny. I didn’t know yesterday in the comments who she was either. I thought it was a spellchecker correction.

  4. flnatsfan - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    And the Braves are signing Santana….a one-year deal pending physical. He’s arriving in Orlando at Braves camp this morning, according to Twitter. Wow! That was fast!

    • natinalsgo - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      I called that the instant Medlen went down. They are very fortunate as in most years a player like Santana isn’t available on March 12th.

  5. Joe Seamhead - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    Hairston is tied for the team lead in strikeouts with 9 in only 19 AB’s
    Tyler Moore, who had a key hit and some impressive baserunning yesterday, also has 9 K’s in 25 AB’s. His OBP, .269, is lower than his somewhat respectable BA .280
    Tyler leads the team in AB’s which means…I don’t know what.

    Speaking of the good, the bad, and the ugly? I just spent some time on the AJC page on the Braves. They’re lining up to jump off bridges down there. The one bright spot that they are harping about? Gavin Floyd will be ready in May.

    • sjm308 - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      Not a huge deal but what is AJC?

      • sjm308 - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:00 AM

        Nevermind, must be Atlanta Journal Constitution. How poor of me as a newspaper reader to not get that.

    • Section 222 - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Gavin who? Just kidding. But seriously, when he’s your great hope things are pretty bad. OTOH, Santana could be very good for them.

  6. sjm308 - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    Made me think. My first impressions of McClouth were pretty strong but I guess that was just his fielding. Just as I have not been a big fan of Hairston, I guess its hard to say one is a keeper and the other should walk when neither is doing much. Just another proof that spring training is all about getting ready to play for real and not really an indication of what will actually happen (I still remember how strong Espinosa looked in March).

    I guess I should jump on the bandwagon and be concerned about Soriano but for some reason I just think he has his own way of getting ready and is not concerned with the numbers. I am not down there but am hoping Natsjack can fill us in on his impressions which usually are pretty damn good.

    I have looked at the bullpen a lot lately and am amazed at how many older guys we have that are actually doing very well. What are the chances that guys like Ayala, Gonzalez, Cedeno and Delcarmen actually take a minor league spot? Are there avenues for them to opt out of our deals and try and sign with another team? They signed minor league deals and are not on a 40 man roster so there would be no options to clear. How does this work? I would love to see them stashed away in Syracuse, ready to return if someone is hurt or runs into a locker but I also think there must be a team out there that would love to have at least one of these guys. Am I just overvaluing our guys since I follow them or does every team have plenty of arms in the pen?
    Soriano-Clippard-Storen-Stammen-Blevins-Barrett-Cedeno-Ayala-Gonzalez-Delcarmen-Garcia-Mattheus-Stange
    and I did not even mention Roark or Ohlendorf or Detwiler
    and except for Barrett, I did not really mention the younger guys like Purke, Rivero & Solis who we are pretty sure will not start at the major league level. To me, this is Mike Rizzo at his finest.

    Go Nats!!!

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:18 AM

      308, I agree with you regarding Rizzo.
      I’m not on the Freaked Out About Soriano bandwagon, either. Yet.
      Yes, AJC is the Atlant Journal Constitution. They’re about as bad as our worst blogs.
      Signing Santana is truly a move of desperation by our esteemed foes from Georgia! It’ll cost them twice, as he isn’t very good, and they give up a 1st round pick. The question marks on their pitching staff are seemingly growing daily.

    • Doc - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:20 AM

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing the other day, sjm308.

      Rizzo has out-stacked the other teams in the division, when it comes to pitching.

      There are also some guys that he got in trades, or FAs, over the years that seem to have, or had, value, e.g. Krol, Rivero, Treinen, Roark, Cole, Davis,, Clippard, Garcia, Mattheus, etc.

      Again, the Nats’ scouting department seems to be doing an excellent job. Ayala, Cedeno, and Delcarmen could easily fit on a lot of other teams.

      • adcwonk - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:13 AM

        the Nats’ scouting department seems to be doing an excellent job.

        Indeed — you can’t overrate that. Remember that Rizzo grew up being a scout — and that the first thing he did when he got here was to drastically beef up our scouting department. To say that that move has paid off is an understatement.

        How many times has there been a trade of player x for player y, and Rizzo demanded a particular minor “throw in” from the other team that ended up being the key part of the trade for the Nats? (Many, although my brain is too old, or out-of-midseason-form (like Soriano) to remember them).

    • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      You also left off Taylor Jordan.

      In spite of the glut of arms in the ‘pen, somehow I’m still nervous about it. I do agree with you about Soriano, though. I think he knows what he’s doing and will be ready to save games in his trademarked sweat-inducing fashion come Opening Day.

      • sjm308 - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        I left Jordan off because I just don’t ever see him in the pen and those were the names I was ticking off

  7. natsjackinfl - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Another note about yesterday, Felipe Rivero, the 23 yo left hander that Rizzo got as an add on in the Lobatan deal topped out at 95 on the Nats official radar gun. Showed a pretty nasty breaking ball, as well.

    It’s these adds that make Rizzo so good.

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:22 AM

      Hey, Jack, saw you and Gator while watching the Nats/Yankees game yesterday. You both looked like a couple of old curmudgeons!

    • Doc - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      Me too on Rivero, natsjack.

      That’s a lefty prospect to watch. I thought that he had good presence out there.

      I wish that they’d post the official radar stuff, instead of the TV readings. One guy on our staff against the Cards was throwing ’53’ on at least one pitch.

      At that goofy rating, I’m surprised that it even arrived at the plate!!

      How would you rate Robbie Ray and Rivero, natsjack? You’ve seen them both now.

      • natsjackinfl - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        I haven’t seen that much of Rivero to compare the two yet.

        My appreciation for Ray came from watching him clean up his mechanics over the past 3 seasons and develop a solid change up to go with his 95 mph heater and solid breaking ball. His command finally came through last season and he’s ready.

        Rivero may be close but I need to see more. I know when I gave Rizzo the thumbs up signal yesterday, he smiled and gave it back.

        As for me and Gator, Joe, guilty as charged. It’s what we are.

      • Joe Seamhead - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        Jack? Curious as to how you see Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin? Is Taylor as good as he’s being touted? I’m assuming he’ll be in Hagerstown this summer and will go to watch him if that’s where he ends up.

      • knoxvillenat - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:08 AM

        “One guy on our staff against the Cards was throwing ’53′ on at least one pitch.”

        Did Livan take the mound and I missed it???

      • adcwonk - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:15 AM

        Did Livan take the mound and I missed it???

        Good one! ;-)

        But, truth be told, I think the slowest pitch Livan ever threw was in the mid-to-upper 50’s!

      • natsfan1a - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        “Did Livan take the mound and I missed it???”

        I had a similar comment in a thread for a prior game. Great minds and all that. :-)

  8. bowdenball - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    I’d add the situation at 2B to the “good.” if you had told me nine months ago that the Nats would soon have several viable options at that position I’d have asked for some of whatever you were smoking.

    • scmargenau - Mar 13, 2014 at 8:07 AM

      Who besides Rendon is viable?

  9. Jb - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    Meanwhile, JZimm is still on the every-fifth-day track to line up for the OD nod vs the Mets while Strasburg continues to line up for the home opener vs the Braves. If this is not going to happen, when will we see Williams make the necessary changes in the ST rotation so they line up differently?

    • Steady Eddie - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      They have an off day on about March 19 where Williams can reset the rotation order if he wants to.

  10. tcostant - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    It’s official the Braves signed Santana to a 1 year / $14M deal.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/03/12/the-braves-are-completing-a-deal-with-ervin-santana-to-be-announced-this-morning/

    • natinalsgo - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      All the people who were thinking the Barves rotation was doomed could have been a little premature. Now they stack Teheran, Santana, Alex Wood, Freddy Garcia and they have Mike Minor and Beachy and Hale and Gavin Floyd all in the mix.

      Many doubted they would jump on Santana because of the price tag. The NL East is a race again and Santana does well in contract years and this is a 1 year deal. Atlanta loses a draft pick but they get a pitcher who they can QO themselves and get that draft pick back or trade him if they are out of the race.

      Wren did good for his fanbase.

  11. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    I’m convinced Soriano is nowhere near as bad as he looks. Having said that, his failings are scary. If he implodes in April are we confident Storen can resume his role as closer? It’s unnerving to think the season might turn on that. In any event I don’t think Rizzo will be tempted to deal Storen anytime soon.

  12. natsjackinfl - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    Joe . Regarding Goodwin and Taylor, Taylor will be in Potomac and Goodwin probably in Syracuse. Taylor is well thought of as a center fielder and gets great reads for a guy converted from shortstop. Don’t let his play in right field last week influence you. Wind played a big role.

    Goodwin seems a little more polished at this stage but I think Taylor may have more in him.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      Can we expect his bat to play as a regular up here?

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      Oh, of course Taylor will’ll be in Potomac,or maybe Harrisburg, not Hagerstown. Duh! I’ll try to go watch him a couple of games. I’m not sold on Goodwin yet.

  13. knoxvillenat - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    To me the best of the “good” is reading that RZ hasn’t commited an error yet. Hopefully he is playing back a bit now and not cheating up as he did last season and also that his throwing problems are a thing of the past.

    • Steady Eddie - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      At least on Saturday against the Barves, RZ was playing at the outer edge of the infield when he made a great snag against Jordan Schafer. Didn’t have time to make a throw, but he did turn a likely double into an infield single. He certainly didn’t seem to be cheating in much if at all in the two games I saw him in over the weekend.

      • knoxvillenat - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        Steady Eddie……thanks for the insight.

      • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        Excellent to hear…just another reason I’m getting really excited for this season…trying to temper my expectations.

      • Section 222 - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:53 PM

        Thanks for that report Steady. Good news.

  14. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Santana against Nats hitters?

    • tcostant - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      Great link! Thanks

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:17 AM

        no problem! looks like our best hitters have good numbers against him. hope it plays out that way during the season and he starts every series against us.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      Faraz, perfect timing to rest Jayson, Ramos, and figure Espi, Hairston and TyMo aren’t starting anyway.

      Harper, LaRoche, Desi, RZim, Rendon and Span all have good numbers.

    • David Proctor - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      I remember we hit 3 homers off him last year (Span, Desi, Harper). That was the game where we lost because Stammen didn’t cover first base. And then Zim screwed up, too.

  15. David Proctor - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    FWIW regarding the errors, Matt Williams said only 3 of the 18 errors have been by guys who project to be on the Opening Day roster. And one was by Span, of all people.

    • natsjackinfl - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      And the error by Span was due to some pretty serious wind conditions. But it certainly was an error.

  16. Eugene in Oregon - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Regarding the ‘uglies’ Mark Zuckerman identified, especially regarding hitting (and I’m thinking mostly about Nate McLough), I would put more weight on their production over the last season or two than on two weeks of ST games.

    • Section 222 - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      +1. I’d say the same thing about the Goods that involve individual performance. The running game, on the other hand, is a positive sign.

      • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:59 AM

        Indeed; likewise the situational hitting, productive outs, etc. All last season I was waiting to see them adopt this approach…I’m thrilled to see it might happen this season.

  17. David Proctor - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 5m
    #Braves Medlen said he knows what’s coming, nothing official yet but he has accepted that he’s almost certainly going to need TJ surgery

  18. jd - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Big blow to the Braves. Medlen along with Minor and Tehran is an anchor pitcher for them. Also Beechy, Floyd and Minor are not exactly healthy. When it rains it pours.

    BTW, is Johnny Venters back for them? he’s been out for most of the past 2 years.

  19. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    wow that does suck for a young pitcher. I was not feeling sorry for him yesterday but I do now.

  20. Section 222 - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    Santana is a great addition for the Braves. 211 innings last year in the AL with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.142 WHIP. The best thing about him signing with them is that they lose a draft pick.

    Still, I’d take our rotation over theirs any day of the week, as long as Fister is healthy.

    • David Proctor - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      Santana is an interesting pitcher. He’s been extremely inconsistent. He was very good last year, but in 2012 he had a 5.16 ERA. In 2011 and 2010 he was good, but in 2009 he had a 5.03. In 2008 he was good, but in 2007 he had an ERA of 5.79. You never know what you’ll get with him.

      Altogether, he has a career 4.19 and a 100 ERA+ which makes him exactly league average. But he’s never pitched average. He’s either been above average or way below average.

      • jd - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        They had absolutely no choice. They had to sign him.

      • David Proctor - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        I agree with you. They were running out of bodies to run out there. Will be interesting to see how effective he is though. I suspect moving to the NL will help.

      • sjm308 - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        big key is that I am guessing its a one year deal so he is pitching for another big contract

      • Section 222 - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM

        DP, I saw those stats on B-R too. To be honest, I don’t put much stock in old numbers (2007?), for pitchers, whether good or bad. And career numbers? Please. What have you done for me lately is a much more relevant question. See Haren, D.

      • David Proctor - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        Well in 2012, he had an ERA of over 5 so… but he was good 3 of the last 4 years.

    • jd - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      I think our rotation is better than theirs with or without Fister.

  21. Section 222 - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    NJ and others that have been down there — Glad to hear that RZ is error free, but how does his arm look on overhand throws across the diamond?

    • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      I’d love to hear some first hand feedback, too, but I seem to recall a quote from a scout suggesting that his throws have been strong…I’ll try to dig it up…

      • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Can’t find it yet, but I did find this (which I think another NIer posted recently):

        1. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals

        Zimmerman is taking some grounders at first base this spring, but that is only to give the Nationals more lineup flexibility when a left-hander is on the mound. He looks great at third this spring and his arm strength has returned. This will allow him to once again play a deeper third base and restore his inclusion within any Gold Glove conversation. More important for fantasy players, with a healthy right shoulder for the first time in years, they should anticipate a return to his 2009 numbers.

  22. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Without gloating, I’m thinking about how the Braves (and moreso their fans) were patting themselves on their backs over how they handled Medlen’s return from his first TJ — in contrast to the Nats and Strasburg. Turns out, not such a big deal.

    • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      While I feel truly terrible for Medlen, especially if he needs TJ again, I won’t cry if it means the national media finally decides to stfu about how the Nats handles Stras’ return.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        The situations aren’t really different in that both teams innings-limited their pitchers coming off of TJ surgery. It was just the way they did it (the Barves had Medlen start the season in the bullpen, brought him in later; the Nats of course shut Strasburg down when he hit the limit).

        This also, of course, means that we can’t make any assumptions about the continuing health of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Giolito, Jordan or any of the other post-TJ Nats pitchers. Or the pre-TJ Nats pitchers for that matter. Pitching is a dangerous thing. I know this because I’ve had two surgeries directly related to my pitching habit.

      • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        I total agree we can’t make assumptions about the health of pitchers recovering from TJ surgery (or really pitchers in general, but especially those who have already needed a major repair). That’s exactly the point I think the media doesn’t appreciate, and that I think the Nats clearly do. I can’t speak to how the Braves managed things, but it’s kind of immaterial. It pays to be cautious with folks recovering from major surgery as they ramp back up to repeatedly abusing their joints via athletic endeavor.

    • Sec3MySofa - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      +1

  23. langleyclub - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    I am a Rizzo fan, but his love for Scott Hairston baffles me. If the Nats are going to keep a weak bat on the roster, you would at least hope that he would be a plus defender with the ability to play multiple positions and a solid base runner. Hairston can only play the corner OF spots, and he plays them poorly, and he is not pinch-running option. He brings no value to the team, and really limits Williams options in late game situations.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      While I agree there is nobody to challenge him in camp except Tyler Moore.

      It’s probably the only hole on this team is the righty toolsy OF. I think if Kobernus or Walters could play LF I would take one of them.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        There might just be one knocking on the door – Steven Souza Jr. If Hairston struggles or one of the OF gets hurt, don’t be surprised if you see Souza get the call before Perez or Kobernus.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        If Souza can rake down on the Farm I would agree. He’s been impressive in all facets of the game.

    • therealjohnc - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      You simply can’t extrapolate from spring training stats. Like, at all. Hairston’s career, particularly in recent years, says that he has a good bat against LHP, largely because of his power against LHP. Even last year when his BABIP cratered his OPS against LHP was above league average. If his BABIP rebounds (somewhat; it will always be a bit below league average BABIP because of his batted ball profile) his average will come up.

      Regardless, his role as the #5OF is mostly to keep an opposing manager from reaching for a LOOGY when one of the Nats LH batters not named Harper comes up to the plate.

      • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        There was an article in the Post recently talking about how Hairston was being specifically matched up against right handed pitching to try to improve his abilities. I’ll try to dig it up after this meeting.

      • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        Here it is:
        It’s a careful balance: the starters need at-bats to get ready, but so do the backups. To prepare for the season, Hairston wants to see a lot of pitches and get a lot of at-bats. Recently, he has been trying to see a lot of pitches during his at-bats while working on his swing, and trying to avoid being caught in limbo between both.
        An added benefit of the early playing time for Hairston has been a chance to face more right-handed pitching that he normally does. The left fielder has a career .226 average and .694 OPS against them, while posting a .268 average and .815 OPS against left-handers. Last season, he had only 31 at-bats against right-handers and notched only three hits. Against left-handers, Hairston hit .214 with a .743 OPS. (His numbers against left-hander were better after he was traded from the Cubs to Nationals: 13 for 48 with two home runs against left-handers.)
        “It’s actually a good thing,” Hairston said of facing right-handers often in spring. “Not only that, but I faced some pretty tough right-handers. I think it’s only going to make me better. I normally don’t typically see those guys but it helps me to keep my shoulder in and I think to see those guys early, right out the gate, it can only make you better, I guess. It has to. I enjoy it. Trying to step your game up. At the same time, it’s hard to work on stuff with those type of pitchers you’ve facing. As long as I’m picking the ball up, which is gradually getting better, it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

      • Sonny G 10 - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        “Regardless, his role as the #5OF is mostly to keep an opposing manager from reaching for a LOOGY when one of the Nats LH batters not named Harper comes up to the plate.”

        Good deduction. I like it.

  24. langleyclub - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Would take any of those three (particularly Kobernus) over Hairston, but don’t see it happening.

  25. Chas - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    while we are on the topic:
    Mike Isabella’s G Sandwich Shop Heads Nationals Park

    http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/bestbites/food-restaurant-news/mike-isabellas-g-sandwich-shop-heads-nationals-park.php

    • Eric - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      Awesome, and a new brewery 3 blocks away?! Woo!

    • natsfan1a - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      Yum! I like this development.

  26. Joe Seamhead - Mar 12, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    Now, if we can only get something going on the west side of the stadium. Because I am more or less retired we usually go down early. We drive, park, one way or the other near the concrete plant, and head over to Gordon Beirsh, [or wherever] over that way. What a difference from a few short years ago when Nats Park opened!,

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 49 1.0
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
Through Wednesday's early 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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