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Mark Zuckerman

  1. Sorting out bullpen roles

    Dec 19, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    One of the toughest tasks for any first-time manager is bullpen usage, and that figures to be among the more intriguing aspects of Matt Williams’ inaugural season as skipper of the Nationals. Williams inherits a Washington bullpen loaded at the back end with three right-handers who have all enjoyed success as a closer in the…

  2. Nats announce 4-year agreement with Syracuse

    Dec 18, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT

    Photo courtesy Jason Benetti, Syracuse Chiefs

    The Syracuse Chiefs have served as the Nationals’ Class AAA affiliate for the last five years, and the two clubs will continue their partnership for at least five more years after Wednesday’s announcement of a player development contract extension that runs through 2018. This new contract extension, a four-year agreement, is the first long-term deal…

  3. How does Moore fit into Nats’ 2014 plan?

    Dec 18, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    If the Nationals make another move before the start of spring training, it most likely would be for another bench player. Which most likely would directly impact Tyler Moore. Which raises the following question: How exactly does Moore fit into the Nationals’ plans, both in 2014 and beyond? The organization continues to praise the young…

  4. Lefties priced themselves out of Nationals’ market

    Dec 17, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    MLB: New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners

    Two more clubs signed free agent left-handers yesterday, and if you’re wondering why the Nationals couldn’t have landed one of these guys, you need only look at the bloated contracts said southpaws were given. Boone Logan, owner of a 4.39 ERA in eight major-league seasons, got a 3-year, $16.5 million deal from the Rockies. Meanwhile,…

  5. Marrero lands with Orioles on minor-league deal

    Dec 16, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    Chris Marrero, released by the Nationals earlier this fall, has found a new home just up the road: Baltimore. The Orioles have signed the 25-year-old first baseman to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, according to Baseball America. Marrero, the Nationals’ highly touted first-round pick in the 2006 draft, was outrighted off…

  6. Williams embraces lofty expectations

    Dec 16, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    In the six weeks he’s been on the job, Matt Williams has learned a few things about the Nationals that he didn’t necessarily know before he was named their new manager. In particular, everyone’s motivation to realize significant success right now. “What I’ve learned is that this organization is very concerned with winning,” Williams said…

  7. Time to reconsider collisions at the plate

    Dec 15, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    Palm Beach Post File Photo, 2003

    One of my absolute favorite moments in baseball history was the final play of the 2003 NLDS between the Marlins and Giants, the one where Jeff Conine fires a one-hopper from shallow left field to Ivan Rodriguez, who braces for impact with J.T. Snow and manages to hold onto the ball as he goes head-over-heels…

  8. Nats lose catcher Nieto in Rule 5 draft

    Dec 12, 2013, 10:45 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Nationals lost Adrian Nieto in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft to the White Sox, who are hoping the 24-year-old catcher has progressed enough to spend 2014 in the major leagues. Nieto, a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft, was well-liked by Nationals officials, but his slow development (he hasn’t advanced…

  9. 3 deals in 10 days leave Nats in good shape

    Dec 12, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    Associated Press

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Ten days ago, the Nationals needed a starting pitcher. They needed a left-handed bench bat. And they sorely needed a left-handed reliever. Then came the trade for Doug Fister. Then came the signing of Nate McLouth. And after Wednesday’s trade for Jerry Blevins, general manager Mike Rizzo could take comfort…

  10. Rizzo: Blevins was “our best option”

    Dec 11, 2013, 6:08 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Nationals talked to every left-handed reliever on the open market. And they inquired about potential trades with three or four clubs. In the end, Mike Rizzo decided a Jerry Blevins-for-Billy Burns swap with the Athletics made the most sense in multiple ways. “This was the best option we could…

  11. Nats acquire LHP Blevins for prospect Burns

    Dec 11, 2013, 2:35 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Nationals acquired the left-handed reliever they so desired, pulling off a trade with the Athletics on Wednesday that brings veteran Jerry Blevins to Washington in exchange for minor-league outfielder Billy Burns. Blevins, 30, was one of perhaps 10 left-handers the Nationals had expressed interest in at the Winter Meetings…

  12. Williams wants Davey at spring training

    Dec 11, 2013, 11:36 AM EDT

    Associated Press

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Though he has remained out of sight since managing the final game of the season in Arizona, Davey Johnson remains a member of the Nationals’ organization. The 70-year-old former skipper officially is listed as a consultant in the club’s baseball operations department, and general manager Mike Rizzo has repeatedly said…

  13. Williams contemplating lineup construction

    Dec 11, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As he has begun to learn the Nationals’ personnel over the last month-plus, Matt Williams has begun scribbling out starting lineups in his mind. Along the way, Washington’s new manager has come to a realization: He’s got plenty of choices. “The good thing about it is we have those options,”…

  14. Wilson, Blevins among lefty trade targets

    Dec 10, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Determined to add a much-needed, experienced left-hander to their bullpen, the Nationals have been exploring the trade market at the Winter Meetings, with several potential targets beginning to emerge. Among the names added to the list of free agents on the Nationals’ radar: the Pirates’ Justin Wilson and the Athletics’…

  15. Rizzo: No offers for Clippard, Storen, Span

    Dec 10, 2013, 6:04 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — On Tuesday morning, two Nationals sources downplayed trade talks involving Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. On Tuesday afternoon, Mike Rizzo shot down the notion he’s even received a formal offer for either reliever. Or center fielder Denard Span. “We haven’t been fielding all that many calls on Clippard and Storen,”…

  16. Highlights from Williams’ media session

    Dec 10, 2013, 3:18 PM EDT

    Associated Press

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Matt Williams just wrapped up his 30-minute media session, getting peppered on all sorts of subjects. The Nationals’ new manager remains as poised and thorough as he was in his introductory news conference in Washington last month, and he shed some light on a few previously untouched topics. Here are…

  17. Nats’ asking price high on Storen and Clippard

    Dec 10, 2013, 12:01 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Though several clubs have expressed interest in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, the Nationals’ asking price remains high, with general manager Mike Rizzo seeking a major return for either reliever. Both Storen and Clippard have been viewed as potential trade candidates since season’s end due to their escalating salaries and…

  18. Nats expect McLouth to get significant playing time

    Dec 10, 2013, 8:41 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After a strong bounce-back season in Baltimore, Nate McLouth figured to sign with a club this winter that would offer him the chance to win an everyday job. The Nationals, of course, had no such opportunity with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Denard Span all entrenched in the outfield. But…

  19. Rizzo believes Ramos can catch 125 games

    Dec 9, 2013, 7:54 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Conventional wisdom, entering the Winter Meetings, suggested the Nationals were in the market for a veteran backup catcher, someone who could be a reliable No. 2 behind Wilson Ramos. Mike Rizzo, though, appeared to quash that line of thinking on Monday, saying he believes Ramos can start 125 or more…

  20. Rizzo in no rush to sign lefty reliever

    Dec 9, 2013, 6:43 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Though he admits he’s “actively” trying to acquire a left-handed reliever, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo suggested he isn’t facing any urgency to make a move this week during the Winter Meetings. “I think we’re going to take our time with it and get the right fit and see where…

  21. Rizzo talks up Espinosa amid trade rumors

    Dec 9, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Danny Espinosa’s future with the Nationals has been in question since the struggling second baseman was demoted last summer and never returned to the big-league roster. But would the Nats prefer to trade Espinosa now, despite his relatively low value, or do they still believe he can play an important…

  22. On Halladay’s retirement, impact on NL East

    Dec 9, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Roy Halladay arguably was the best pitcher in baseball as recently as 2011, when he went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA, 220 strikeouts and a league-best eight complete games. Two years later, the right-hander has retired, completing his surprisingly swift decline and ending his career much sooner than most would…

  23. La Russa, Cox, Torre elected to Hall of Fame

    Dec 9, 2013, 11:41 AM EDT

    Associated Press

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre all were unanimous selections to the Hall of Fame today, a trio of baseball’s greatest managers honored together with enshrinement in Cooperstown. Cox, La Russa and Torre were voted in by the Hall’s Expansion Era Committee, a 16-person panel that includes Hall…

  24. Lefties on agenda as Winter Meetings commence

    Dec 9, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    Associated Press

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Hello from the Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World, where the Winter Meetings officially open for business this morning. That’s assuming everyone made it out of the snow/ice up north. By all accounts, it appears everyone associated with the Nationals did make it, including your trusty beat writer, who was…

  25. Winter Meetings preview

    Dec 7, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

    WinterMeetings1207

    The Nationals have already addressed their need for another starting pitcher, trading for Doug Fister on Monday night. Then they closed out the week by bolstering their bench with the signing of Nate McLouth late Friday afternoon. So, what’s left for Mike Rizzo and Co. to do once they arrive in Orlando on Sunday for…

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 44 --
ATLANTA 55 46 1.0
NEW YORK 48 53 8.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 12.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 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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