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Nationals sign 24 2014 First-Year Player Draft selections

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The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with 24 players selected in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Here’s a rundown of the latest players to join the Nationals organization (signed players in bold):

RD                 PICK             PLAYER                              POS              SCHOOL

1                      (18)               Erick Fedde                      RHP              University of Nevada-Las Vegas

2                      (57)               Andrew Suarez             LHP               University of Miami (FL)

3                      (93)               Jakson Reetz                 C                     Norris (NE) High School

4                     (124)             Robbie Dickey              RHP              Blinn (TX) Junior College

5                      (154)             Drew Van Orden          RHP              Duke (NC) University

6                     (184)            Austen Williams          RHP              Texas State University

7                      (214)             Dale Carey                        CF                   University of Miami (FL)

8                     (244)            Jeff Gardner                   LF                   University of Louisville (KY)

9                     (274)            Austin Byler                    1B                   University of Nevada-Reno

10                   (304)            Matthew Page              RF                  Oklahoma Baptist University

11                    (334)            Weston Davis                RHP              Manatee (FL) High School

12                    (364)            Domenick Mancini    RHP              Miami (FL) Dade CC

13                    (394)            Austin Davidson          3B                  Pepperdine (CA) University

14                   (424)            James Bourque            RHP              University of Michigan

15                    (454)            Ryan Ripken                   1B                   Indian River (FL) State Junior College

16                   (484)           Cole Plouck                     LHP               Pima (AZ) Community College

17                    (514)             Alec Keller                      CF                   Princeton (NJ) University

18                   (544)            McKenzie Mills           LHP               Sprayberry (GA) High School

19                   (574)            Clay Williamson           RF                  Cal State – Fullerton 

20                   (604)           Bryan Langlois              RF                  Pepperdine (CA) University

21                    (634)            Connor Bach                   LHP               Virginia Military Institute

22                   (664)           Daniel Salters                C                     Dallas (TX) Baptist University

23                   (694)           Chris Riopedre             SS                  East Tennessee State University

24                   (724)            Kyle Simmons               RHP              Texas Lutheran University

25                   (754)            Kyle Bacak                        C                     Texas Christian University

26                   (784)            Chase McDowell         RHP              Rice (TX) University

27                   (814)            Conor Keniry                  SS                  Wake Forest (NC) University

28                   (844)           Kida De La Cruz             RHP              Volunteer State (TN) CC

29                   (874)            D.J. Jauss                          RHP              University of Massachusetts 

30                   (904)           Tyler Mapes                   RHP              Tulane (LA) University 

31                    (934)            Samuel Johns                RHP              University of Evansville (IN) 

32                   (964)           Elliott Cary                       CF                   Clackamas (OR) High School

33                   (994)           Clay Casey                                                CF                   DeSoto Central (MS) High School

34                   (1024            Evan Skoug                      C                     Libertyville (IL) High School

35                   (1054)          Tommy Doyle                RHP              Flint Hill (VA) School

36                   (1054)          John Henry Styles      LHP               Episcopal (TX) High School

37                   (1114)           Quinn Brodey                 LHP               Loyola (CA) High School

38                   (1144)          Stuart Fairchild              RF                  Seattle (WA) Prep

39                   (1174)           John Littell                      OF                  Stillwater (OK) High School

40                  (1204)          Jacob Hill                          LHP               Orange Coast (CA) CC

 

Nationals reinstate LHP Gio Gonzalez, option LHP Xavier Cedeno to Triple-A Syracuse

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by Amanda Comak

Gio Gonzalez officially returned to the Washington Nationals’ active roster on Wednesday, as the Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated the left-hander from the 15-Day Disabled List, and optioned left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno to Triple-A Syracuse.

Gonzalez will start Wednesday night against the Houston Astros.

Gonzalez, 28, returns to the Nationals after missing 29 games with left shoulder inflammation.

He rejoins the Nationals’ active roster after making two rehab starts with Potomac of the Single-A Carolina League, amassing 7.2 innings and allowing nine earned runs on nine hits and eight walks.

In his final rehab start, June 12 vs. Winston-Salem, Gonzalez was touched for just one earned run off two hits, and struck out seven over four innings of work.

Prior to the first Disabled List trip of his career, Gonzalez was 3-4 with a 4.62 ERA in nine Major League starts this season, spanning 50.2 innings. The 2012 Cy Young Award finalist is 35-20 with a 3.29 ERA in 73 starts since being acquired by the Nationals before the 2012 season.

Cedeno, 27, tossed 1.0 scoreless inning in his most recent call-up, pitching a perfect frame against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 14. On the season, Cedeno has allowed two hits and no runs in 2.1 Major League innings.

Nationals wrap up Day 2 of 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft

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The 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft continued with rounds 3-10 Friday afternoon. Here’s a look at Washington’s seven selections:

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington NationalsJakson Reetz – Catcher – Norris (NE) High School / Firth, NE – 3rd Round (93rd overall)

At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Reetz is known as a hard-nosed competitor and a tremendous athlete behind the plate.  He was named the 2013-14 Gatorade Nebraska Baseball Player of the Year after hitting .487 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 37 runs scored in 2014. Reetz was rated by Baseball America as the No. 62 overall draft prospect (No. 1 in Nebraska) in this year’s draft class. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Nebraska. When he inked with the Cornhuskers, he was rated the No. 28 overall recruit in the country, and was named a 2013 Perfect Game First-Team Underclass All-American.

Nationals Assistant GM & VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline: “We’re very excited (about Reetz). He’s a high school catcher that we love. Power bat, (and) he’s got a great feel to hit. Catching skills are maybe a tick better than (Oakland A’s catcher and former Nationals prospect) Derrick Norris at the same time. We have the right people to help him progress in that area. I think you’re looking at an offensive catcher at the big-league level down the road.”

Robert Dickey – Right Handed Pitcher – Blinn (TX) Junior College / Austin, TX – 4th Round (124th overall)

Dickey helped lead Blinn Junior College to its first Junior College World Series since 1992, going 9-4 with a 2.74 ERA (26 ER/85.1 IP) in 14 starts for the Buccaneers. He struck out 100 batters while walking just 44. Entering the season, he was rated by Perfect Game USA as the No. 1 overall junior college prospect in the nation. He’s noted for strong makeup and mound presence. He signed a National Letter of Intent with Texas State University.

National/Midwest Crosschecker Jimmy Gonzales: “Robert is very excited to be a National. He’s a strong right-handed pitcher. Great body, great character, plus fastball and a solid curveball. We feel he’s going to be a starter. He expressed a lot of interest in wanting to play for us.”

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington NationalsDrew Van Orden – Right Handed Pitcher – Duke (NC) University / Manhattan Beach, CA – 5th Round (154th overall)

At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Van Orden leans on his fastball and slider command to get batters out.  He ranked 6th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in strikeouts (91) and paced the Blue Devil staff in innings pitched (87.1), strikeouts and games started (14). Van Orden went 6-5 with a 3.19 ERA (34 ER/87.1 IP) while allowing opposing hitters to post a .219 average against him in 15 games/14 starts during his senior season.  He was selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team after tossing his first career shutout in Duke’s 6-0 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament.

Austen Williams – Right Handed Pitcher – Texas State University / Fort Worth, TX – 6th Round (184th overall)

Williams was named All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team after finishing third in the conference in strikeouts (96) and tied for third in wins (8).  Standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Williams was 8-3 with a 3.65 ERA (40 ER/98.2 IP) in 15 starts for the Bobcats. He struck out 96 batters and hitters posted a .239 batting average against him.

Dale (D.K.) Carey – Center Fielder – University of Miami (FL) / Marietta, GA – 7th Round (214th overall)

Carey is seen as a plus defender and is considered one of the best pure athletes in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He stands 6-foot-2, weighs 207 pounds, and ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in runs scored (53), as well as ranking fourth in hits (75). On the season, he led the Hurricanes in hitting .305 (75-for-246) and doubles (16) while clubbing seven home runs, 29 RBI and 16 stolen bases.  Carey was named Second-Team All-ACC following the 2014 season.

Kris Kline: “Dale was a kid we felt, when he was young, that he was going to be a really good player. He struggled throughout college a bit. We noticed that he simplified his approach, he slowed the game down. He’s a really good defender — throws well, runs well. It’s been encouraging to see him progress to the point to do what we feel he is capable of doing. We’re very excited to have him as part of our system.”

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington NationalsJeff Gardner  –  Left Fielder – University of Louisville / Louisville, KY – 8th Round (244th overall)

A three-time All-Conference selection (Big East/American Athletic Conference) throughout his career, Gardner was named the 2014 AAC Player of the Year after hitting .326 with 20 doubles, nine home runs and leading the league with 67 RBI and a .551 slugging percentage.  He was a two-time AAC Player of the Week and was recently named a Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American.

Austin Byler – First Baseman – University of Nevada-Reno / Peoria, AZ – 9th Round (274th overall)

Byler, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound first baseman, led the Mountain West Conference and ranked seventh in NCAA Division 1 with 14 home runs.  He also led the MWC in slugging percentage (.624) and total bases (138), while ranking fourth in on-base percentage (.420), runs scored (51) and fifth in RBI (47). Byler was a First Team All-Mountain West selection and a two-time MWC Player of the Week.  He hit .326 with 14 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, 47 RBI and 51 runs scored in 57 games this season.

Matt Page – Left Fielder – Oklahoma Baptist University / Redwood City, CA – 10th Round (304th overall)

Page was a two-time NAIA First-Team All-American, two-time Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year as well as the 2013 NAIA Player of the Year.  Standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Page hit .381 with 26 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs, 84 RBI and 78 runs scored in 64 games played in 2014.  His 26 doubles were second-most in NAIA, while his 84 RBI were good for third.

For more on who the Nationals selected in the first and second rounds, click here.

The 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft will conclude on Saturday.

Nationals reinstate Ryan Zimmerman from DL, option Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated third baseman Ryan Zimmerman from the 15-Day Disabled List on Tuesday, and optioned infielder/outfielder Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse.

Zimmerman, 29, returns to the Nationals after missing 44 games due to a right thumb fracture, suffered April 12 at Atlanta. He rejoins the active roster after hitting .357 (5-for-14) in four rehab games with Single-A Potomac.

He will start for the Nationals on Tuesday night, playing left field for the first time in his Major League career.

Through the first 10 games of the season, before his injury, Zimmerman hit .364 with a .405 on-base percentage and .636 slugging percentage. He clubbed two home runs and three doubles, walked three times and drove in six runs.

Hitting in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup, Zimmerman was an integral part of the Nationals’ early-season offense.

During his time in the lineup, the Nationals averaged 5.27 runs per game – the second-highest average of any team in the National League (Colorado led with 5.50). The Nationals are currently averaging 4.04 runs per game.

Moore, 27, hit .225 (9-for-40) in this latest stint with the Nationals, including one double, one home run, four walks and eight RBI. Moore is hitting .214 (15-for-70) on the season with three home runs, two doubles, seven walks and 11 RBI.

Nationals Manager Matt Williams reaches out to DCPS baseball coaches

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by Amanda Comak

It wasn’t long after Matt Williams was named the Washington Nationals manager last fall before he began to figure out where his help might be needed most in the D.C. community. Little more than a month after he was appointed as the fifth field manager in Nationals history, Williams found himself enjoying lunch at the Red Porch on a cool day among men with whom he shared an interest: teaching the game of baseball.

Nationals Manager Matt Williams with DCPS coaches.

Nationals Manager Matt Williams with DCPS coaches.

Williams welcomed a group of District of Columbia Public Schools varsity baseball coaches to Nationals Park that day, and talked with them about the challenges they face in trying to foster the game in the District.

A few months later, each coach received a letter from Williams.

“As a leader of a team, I am aware of the challenges that you face as a coach,” Williams wrote to each coach. “While neither I, nor the Washington Nationals, will have a solution to all of your struggles, I am interested in helping you achieve success.

“One of the challenges that resonated with me during our question-and-answer session was your need for baseballs. Therefore, I’d like to give you 30 practice baseballs for your team’s use during the remainder of this season. Hopefully these baseballs will be of help to you and your kids.”

Last week, as a follow-up to that first meeting, a group of those same coaches enjoyed the Nationals game against the Marlins.

Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams greeted a group of DCPS baseball coaches before the Nationals' game against the Marlins on May 28.

Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams greeted a group of DCPS baseball coaches before the Nationals’ game against the Marlins on May 28.

“They’re teaching our young baseball players how to play the game and it’s hard for them to have support,” Williams said last week. “There’s very little funding. They work long hours. They have to find places to practice and they have to find baseballs, so I’m helping them do that. I just want to help them coach and help them teach.”

Williams, who made good on his promise and donated 30 practice baseballs to each team, welcomed the coaches onto the field during batting practice. He set each coach and an assistant up with tickets to the game, and offered each $20 in Nats Bucks to use within the ballpark that night.

“At times, coaching may feel like a thankless job,” Williams wrote. “However, as mentors to student-athletes, you have a sizable impact on these kids’ lives. I am incredibly grateful for the time and energy that you commit to the youth in our community.”

Nationals Game Notes — June 1 vs. Texas Rangers

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Game #55: Washington Nationals (27-27) vs. Texas Rangers (28-28) | 1:35 p.m. | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Ups: RHP Tanner Roark (3-3, 3.47 ERA) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (4-2, 2.35 ERA)
Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark was a 25th-round selection of the Texas Rangers in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, part of a class that included first baseman Justin Smoak, left-hander Robbie Ross and right-hander Joe Wieland, among others. Roark was dealt to the Nationals on July 31, 2010 in exchange for shortstop Cristian Guzman.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM, also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: The game will be televised on MASN
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

In seven at-bats dating to the seventh inning on Friday night, Anthony Rendon is 6-for-7 with five singles and a solo home run. He entered this hot stretch mired in a 5-for-43 slump. Rendon paces the Nationals with 21 extra-base hits (11 doubles, four triples, six home runs) and slugging percentage (.441) among qualified Nationals.

Here are the lineups for tonight’s match-up:

Nationals (27-27)

7  Denard Span  CF
6  Anthony Rendon  3B
28 Jayson Werth RF
25 Adam LaRoche 1B
3   Wilson Ramos C
20 Ian Desmond SS
15 Nate McLouth LF
8  Danny Espinosa 2B
57 Tanner Roark P

Rangers (28-28)

19 Daniel Robertson LF
1  Evlis Andrus SS
51 Alex Rios RF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
16 Donnie Murphy 1B
2 Leonys Martin CF
60 Chris Gimenez C
3  Luis Sardinas 2B
11 Yu Darvish P

Here are today’s game notes, courtesy of the Washington Nationals PR department. Enjoy!

Stephen Strasburg stars in ‘This is SportsCenter’ ad

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Washington Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg stars in a brand new ‘This is SportsCenter’ ad, which debuted on Sunday night.

The ad, which was filmed in January, features the Nationals’ ace hanging out in the lunchroom at the ESPN headquarters while D.C.-area native Bram Weinstein searches the freezer frantically for his lean cuisine.

We won’t give away any more, just take a look for yourself:

Nationals recall INF Zach Walters, place 3B Ryan Zimmerman on DL

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by Amanda Comak

ATLANTA — The Washington Nationals recalled infielder Zach Walters from Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday morning and placed third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day Disabled List with a right thumb fracture.

Washington Nationals v Detroit TigersWalters has worked to a .290 batting average in nine games for Triple-A Syracuse this season, with a .303 on-base percentage and .452 slugging percentage. He’s clubbed three doubles and a triple, and driven in three runs.

 This will be the second Major League assignment for Walters, 24, after he hit .375 (3-for-8) in nine Major League games last September. Walters entered the 2014 season ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the Nationals’ organization, according to industry insider Baseball America.

The injury to Zimmerman is another difficult one that the Nationals will have to overcome.

Through his first 10 games of the season, Zimmerman is batting .364 with a .405 on-base percentage and .636 slugging percentage. He’s hit two home runs and three doubles, walked three times and driven in six runs.

“It’s a big (loss) but we don’t have a choice,” Nationals Manager Matt Williams said after Saturday night’s game. “We’ve got to go play and compete and win games. We’ll have to do that starting tomorrow.”

090312-114 ryan zimmermanHitting in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup, Zimmerman has been an integral part of an offense that has helped the Nationals average 5.27 runs per game – the second-highest average of any team in the National League (Colorado leads with 5.50).

Zimmerman suffered the injury on Saturday night against the Atlanta Braves when he dove into the second base bag. 

“You feel bad for him,” right fielder Jayson Werth told reporters after Saturday’s game. “It’s such a freak injury on a play like that. But we’ll be all right. We’ve got some good players. We’ll manage. Any time you lose a guy in the middle of your lineup it hurts. But we’ve got guys who can play here, and I think we’re bringing up a kid who can play. We’ll have to figure out a way.”

Williams indicated that the Nationals will likely go with Anthony Rendon at his natural position, third base, in the interim with Danny Espinosa shouldering the primary load at second base. Walters will certainly be an additional infield option for Williams to utilize.

“It’s not our first choice, certainly, but the fact that they can play multiple positions is good in times like this,” Williams said. “Certainly never want to miss somebody like Zim for that amount of time, but it is what it is. There’s nothing we can do about it now except play.”

Recapping Mike Rizzo’s Facebook Q&A

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Tuesday night, as part of the Washington Nationals’ first Social Fan Event of the season, Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo took some time to answer questions from the team’s most loyal Facebook fans. In the third inning of the Nationals’ 5-0 victory over the Miami Marlins, Rizzo answered several queries.

Here’s a recap of the Facebook Q&A:

FB---RizzoChatWashington Nationals: Hi everyone, Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo is here to start answering some of your questions!

Ralph Thompson Jr.: Here are two – how does the GM see the farm system going forward? Are there lots of prospects in the lower minors?

Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo: Thanks for the question, Ralph Thompson Jr. We feel good about our entire Minor League system. We believe our last couple of drafts have been very successful. We’ve got a lot of power arms coming and some exciting position players also.

Ben Gerow: Do you like to watch every game or have someone tell you about it (a la Moneyball)?

MR: Hi, Ben Gerow. I watch every game, in person, home and away.

Stacey Cottrell: What’s your opinion on instant replay? Do you believe it should be in the MLB and if so to what extent.

MR: Thanks for the question, Stacey Cottrell. I believe that the Major League umpires do the best job of any of the professional sports. With that said, it makes sense — with the technology that we have — to get each and every call right, so we are proponents of it.

Kristen Hottle: What’s your favorite, or best, experience with the Washington Nationals so far?

MR: That’s a tough question, Kristen Hottle. Probably the day that we clinched the National League East title.

Nathan Marquez: Who opened the first “door” to the Front Office for you? And why did they open it for you instead of the others wanting a shot?

MR: Thanks for the question, Nathan Marquez. I would have to say Joe Garagiola Jr. gave me my first opportunity in the front office. He hired me to be the Director of Scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks and my time in Arizona was extremely valuable.

Stefany Needel Meyer: Which off-season transaction was he the most proud of (or which was the most difficult deal to get done)?

MR: Thanks for writing in Stefany Needel Meyer. I think the most important one was the hiring of Matt Williams as our manager at the outset of the offseason.

Nancy Edwards: What is your personal dream for the Nationals Baseball Youth Academy?

MR: Hi, Nancy Edwards. Thanks for asking about the Youth Baseball Academy. We are very excited about it. We have a vision of helping all underprivileged children in Washington D.C. by giving them a strong foundation — a place to be, where they can learn skills not only for baseball but for life, and a good safe place they can come after school and improve themselves.

Steven Graves: What is the situation with (Ryan) Zimmerman? Go Nats!

MR: Hi, Steven Graves. Thanks for the question. Ryan Zimmerman is very important to all of us. We feel that he’s had this soreness in his shoulder before. He knows that we know how to handle it, and we’re just going to manage it throughout the rest of the season.

Aaron Thackery: Mike, A+ thank you for building a respectable ball club. Here’s my Q: have you ever considered switching (Jordan Zimmermann) and Strasburg in their rotation positions?

MR: Hi, Aaron Thackery. Interesting suggestion. But the way the rotation sets up is really only the way it goes the first couple of times through the rotation. After that, with days off and that kind of thing, it’s whoever is available and whatever time their number comes up.

Clark Townsend: Seems like after the 2015 season will be a big decision year for you. Has Mr. Lerner given you a blank checkbook to get (Wilson) Ramos, (Ian) Desmond and (Jordan Zimmermann) extensions done?

MR: Thanks for writing in, Clark Townsend. Ownership has given us all of the resources that we need to put together a quality baseball team, and a quality franchise, and will continue to do so.

Dena Olyaie: If you could have a walk out song, what’d it be?

MR: Haha, Dena Olyaie. I guess it would have to be the theme from Rocky.

Nancy Edwards: What do you see as role of social media for the Nats organization?

MR: Good question, Nancy Edwards. I think Social Media is a great way for the Nationals to get our message out. It’s a great way to engage with fans and connect them more to our team and our game. It also helps us call attention to the many wonderful off-field things the organization does.

Washington Nationals: Thanks, everyone for the questions. That’s all the time Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo has tonight. We hope you enjoyed it!

Calling all Facebook Fans to Tuesday’s Social Fan Event

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When the Washington Nationals’ promotional schedule was unveiled earlier this year, you may have noticed four nights devoted to “Social Fan Events.” These are nights designed exclusively as a way to say thank you to, and engage with our most loyal social media fans.

The first of these events is Tuesday night, April 8, when the Nationals take on the Miami Marlins at 7:05 p.m. and it’s geared toward our Facebook fans!

FacebookTAs a part of this event, our Facebook fans can enjoy discounted tickets with added value to spend throughout Nationals Park, the opportunity to claim a limited edition T-Shirt (pictured), and exclusive gameday experiences. You can get all of the details, including an easy link to purchase tickets through this event, right here. 

Upon entering the ballpark, please stop by the Social Fan Table at Section 103 for more details on what’s planned, find out how to pick up the limited edition T-shirt and enter for your chance to take part in the gameday experiences! 

Here’s a rundown of some of the fun stuff we’ve got planned for Tuesday night — both on our Facebook page as well as inside the ballpark, rewarding our Facebook fans.

Event highlights include:

  • A top secret, once-in-a-lifetime experience that will make you the envy of all your friends, followers and fans!#
  • Exclusive batting practice viewing from the warning track!#
  • Run out on to the field as part of the Starting 9!#
  • One lucky fan will help deliver manager Matt Williams’ official lineup card!
  • One lucky fan will get to yell “Play Ball” to start the game!
  • Exclusive Facebook Q&A with Nationals President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo.
  • See your best photos from the night on the NatsHD scoreboard
  • And much, much more!

# Experience to be awarded exclusively at the ballpark after first gates open (4:30 P.M.) 

We hope you’ll join us!

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