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Nationals formally announce 2016 Major League coaching staff

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By Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals announced manager Dusty Baker’s full coaching staff on Tuesday, making the additions of bench coach Chris Speier, pitching coach Mike Maddux, hitting coach Rick Schu, first base coach Davey Lopes, third base coach Bobby Henley, assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones, and bullpen coach Dan Firova official.

Speier, 65, returns to the dugout as Baker’s bench coach, a role he served for six seasons (2008-13) with the Cincinnati Reds. Speier comes to Washington after gaining experience with six other organizations as a manager, coach or instructor, and after having served as Special Assistant to Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty the last two seasons (2014-15). A member of Baker’s staff in Chicago as well, serving as the Cubs’ third base coach from 2005-06, Speier spent the 2004 season as bench coach for the Oakland Athletics, coached third base for the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks, and served in the same role for the 2000 Brewers. Speier, who has extensive experience as a minor league manager and coach, played 19 years professionally. The three-time All-Star’s career spanned stops in San Francisco, Montreal, St. Louis, Minnesota and Chicago and included three postseason appearances

Maddux, 54, comes to Washington after seven seasons as the Texas Rangers’ pitching coach. During his tenure, the Texas Rangers earned four postseason berths, and Maddux was integral in developing many Rangers pitchers. Under his watch in 2015, Colby Lewis ranked fifth in the American League with 17 wins, while Yovani Gallardo’s 3.42 ERA ranked 11th. In 2014, his staff ranked second in the American league with 17 shutouts, second-most in Texas history. From 2010-13, the Rangers were one of just five clubs (along with Atlanta, St. Louis, Oakland, and Tampa) to post four consecutive sub-4.00 team ERAs, accomplishing that feat for just the second time in Rangers history (six straight, 1974-79). Prior to Maddux’s arrival, the Rangers had not posted an ERA lower than 4.00 since 1990. Over his first five seasons with Texas (2009-13), their team 3.94 ERA was Texas’ lowest ERA over a five-year span since 1981-85 (3.92). Maddux joined Texas after six years (2003-08) with the Brewers as pitching coach. There, he oversaw a Brewers staff that ranked second in the NL with a 3.85 ERA in 2008, the lowest mark by a Milwaukee club in 16 years, en-route to securing their first postseason berth in 26 years. Maddux served as the pitching coach for Houston’s Double-A Round Rock from 2000-02. As a Major Leaguer, Maddux was 39-37 with a 4.05 ERA in 472 games (48 starts) over 15 seasons with Philadelphia (1986-89), Los Angeles (1990, 1999), San Diego (1991-92), New York Mets (1993-94), Pittsburgh (1995), Boston (1995-96), Seattle (1997), Montreal (1998-99), and Houston (2000).

Schu, 53, returns to the Nationals for his third full season as the Major League hitting coach, his sixth with the organization. Schu, whose resume includes 18 seasons as a hitting coach and a nine-year playing career, oversaw a 2015 Nationals offense that ranked among NL teams in runs scored (3rd, 703), home runs (T3rd, 177) and slugging percentage (5th .403), as well as the emergence of NL MVP Bryce Harper. Schu, who was elevated to the Major League coaching staff on July 23, 2013, began the 2013 season as the Nationals’ Minor League Hitting Coordinator, a role he’d been in since 2010. Prior to the Nationals, Schu spent 12 years with the Diamondbacks, including portions of four seasons (2004, 2007-09) as Arizona’s MLB hitting coach. Schu hit .246 with 41 home runs and 134 RBI in 580 MLB games with Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, California and Montreal.

Lopes, 70, returns to the Nationals as the team’s first base coach, a post he held during the 2006 season. The 2016 season will mark the 30th as a Major League coach for Lopes, who spent the past five seasons in the same position for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A highly-regarded baserunning instructor, Lopes was instrumental in improving the Dodgers’ running game. Since 2011, a Dodger has ranked in the top 10 in stolen bases three times, and the 2011 Dodgers posted a 75.9 stolen base percentage, the team’s second-best mark since moving to L.A. in 1958. Prior to joining the Dodgers, Lopes spent four seasons (2007-10) as the first base coach and outfield/baserunning instructor for the Philadelphia Phillies, appearing in the postseason all four years and winning a World Series ring in 2008. While with Philadelphia, Lopes coached current Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, helping him achieve back-to-back 20 stolen base seasons (2008, 2009) and an 88 percent (60-for-68) stolen base percentage. In each of his four seasons the Phillies posted the best stolen base percentage in MLB, including the best mark in MLB history in 2007 (87.9 %). In 2008, the Phillies also led the NL and tied for the MLB lead with 36 outfield assists. Lopes served previously as the first base coach in San Diego (1995-1999 and 2003-2005), Baltimore (1992-1994) and Texas (1988-1991), and skippered the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000-02. A 16-year Major Leaguer, Lopes’ playing career included stops in Los Angeles (1972-81), Oakland (1982-84), Chicago (1984-86, Cubs) and Houston (1986-87). Lopes appeared in four World Series, including a World Series Championship in 1981, as well as four consecutive All-Star Games (1978-81).

Henley, 42, returns for his third season as Washington’s third base coach and his 23rd season with the Montreal/Washington franchise. Henley, who has coached in the Nationals’ system for 11 years, served as the Nationals Minor League field coordinator from 2010-13 and spent four seasons (2006-09) as catching coordinator, as well as manager of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals. Henley guided the GCL Nationals to a league championship in 2009, posting a 36-19 mark before going a perfect 3-0 in the playoffs. He also served managerial posts in Washington’s system with Single-A Potomac (2005), Single-A Savannah (2004) and the GCL Expos (2003). Henley was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 26th round of the 1991 First-Year Player Draft and made his MLB debut in 1998.

Jones, 40, returns to the MLB ranks as the Nationals’ assistant hitting coach. A veteran of 10 Major League seasons, Jones most recently worked in 2014 as the hitting coach of San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate El Paso Chihuahuas. It was his third season as a coach in San Diego’s system after serving the 2013 season in the same capacity with Double-A San Antonio. Jones joined the Padres in 2012 as the hitting coach at Single-A Fort Wayne. Selected in the second round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins, Jones enjoyed time with Minnesota, (1999-2005), the Chicago Cubs (2006-07), where he played under Baker, Detroit (2008) and Florida (2008). He hit .277 with 255 doubles, 19 triples, 165 home runs, 630 RBI, 632 runs scored and 82 stolen bases in 1,302 games.

Firova, 59, joins the Nationals after more than 20 years of managing and coaching in the Mexican League. He most recently worked as a coach at the Pericos de Puebla Baseball Academy and for the past two seasons, he managed the Piratas de Campeche, earning postseason berths in 2014 and 2015. Firova’s most successful managerial stint came with the Tigres de Mexico City, where he won three Mexican League championships (1997, 2000, 2001) during his eight seasons (1995-2002) as manager. Firova was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the second round of the 1980 amateur draft and made his Major League debut with the Mariners during the 1981 season. He also appeared in the Major Leagues with Seattle in 1982 and Cleveland in 1988. Firova played 13 professional seasons with Seattle, Kansas City, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs, before joining the Tecolotes de Nuevo Laredo as a coach in 1992.

Asked & Answered: Mark D. Lerner answers fan questions

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By Mark D. Lerner
Vice Chairman & Principal Owner of the Washington Nationals

Lerner2Nationals Fans,

Thanks so much for submitting your questions this past week. I always enjoy hearing from fans, and have always said we have the best fans in baseball! I plan on sharing on our social channels throughout the offseason, so I hope this will be the first of many conversations!

Let’s get right to your questions:

Why haven’t you cut Jonathan Papelbon yet? His act was embarrassing to a Nats fan. I will not attend or watch a game until he is no longer on the roster.

I knew this would be the first question, so let me tell you what our thinking is right now. This continues to be a tough one. The incident between Jonathan and Bryce Harper was an unfortunate and unacceptable blow-up between two very passionate players.  Luckily, they put it behind them almost immediately. It was probably easier for them to do that because they know each other in a larger context: as teammates who both want to win.  I know both players would love to have that unfortunate moment back. We have asked Mike Rizzo to determine what roster best puts us in a position to win a World Series. He will certainly do that based on talent, and what’s best for our clubhouse moving forward.

What are you going to do now that Jordan Zimmermann is gone and you might lose Doug Fister? Is Tanner Roark back in rotation? Or Lucas Giolito ready?

We are always looking to improve our starting rotation.  The good news is that we have some strong young arms in our farm system that may prove that they are ready to crack the roster as starters.  We also have stockpiled enough young talent all around that we have players other teams may want to trade in return for a pitcher or two.  I think we are going to have a very interesting and competitive Spring Training in 2016.

Mr. Lerner –

Per Twitter, I am asking a question that my season ticket partner and I have had for years. Is the Curly-W clock in right/center going to get hands again? The clock was such a nice and what seems to be a relatively cheap feature. Also, what about the Curly W in the center field grass? I have read that the answer was due to it damaging the lawn but I am not sure I buy that. I had even put a Curly W in my backyard and tweeted it for encouragement.:) We have concert stages that leave marks.

I love the clock, too, but there has been an ongoing maintenance issue and I’m sorry to say it looks like it’s impossible to fix.  I’ve been told the parts are just not available.  It’s actually a pretty complicated issue, believe it or not, and we’re looking at designs to replace it with something else, no later than the All-Star Game in 2018.

As for the field, I think fans loved seeing the Curly W the same as I did, but players complained about the erratic bounce the ball made off the edges of the design so, of course, the groundskeepers stopped cutting it into the grass.  Can’t argue with that.

Thank you for taking my question, Mark…It seems as though a strategic error was made last season with the failure to add the necessary pieces to make the playoffs. Mike Rizzo mentioned at the trade deadline that budget constraints were a factor in the decision not to add talent, other than Papelbon, who played at no cost. I can only assume that Scherzer’s $210MM salary had a lot to do with limiting the available budget, and you have his salary on the books for another 13 years. What is being done to allocate the necessary funds to on-field talent this year to avoid a repeat of last season? Thank you.

We will never go crazy on spending for spending’s sake, but I think we have a proven history of smart spending on talent we believe will help us win now and in the future.  That really is our test at this point.  We are constantly looking for ways to get better, and we ask Mike Rizzo and his staff to make honest assessments about the value of the talent available.

Will the Lerner family be willing to sign high profile free agent(s) this season?

I think the fans know we will never be shy about spending money and will never rule anything out. These types of investments — and they are truly that — are large-scale decisions that have to be taken on a case-by-case basis. But to close yourself off from any of those investments with a blanket statement wouldn’t be prudent, or in the best interest of the team. We have great trust in our baseball operations department and the guidance they provide, and we won’t close any doors.

The Nats refreshed the team’s uniforms several years ago. I personally feel the set has been a success for the most part, but also could be improved in some ways. How do you feel about them? Do you see any enhancements/additions in the future, or are you content with this set?

It’s funny, now anywhere I travel I run into folks wearing Nationals team merchandise – Curly W caps, jerseys, T-shirts.  I think we have developed a pretty popular logo and brand.  We are open to alternate designs down the line, but currently we are sticking with what is proving to be popular.

Can we have the interlocking “DC” return as a home/away alternate and is it possible to sell the uniforms and caps with the interlocking “DC” logo in the team store?

We are open to alternate designs, but don’t have any current plans to change the uniforms next season. I’ll share your request for the interlocking DC logo to be made available in our stores with the retail team!

I was born in D.C., raised in Prince George’s County, MD. I still live in P.G. till this day. I, like most D.C. area baseball fans, were forced to follow the Baltimore Orioles until we finally brought a team back here to our metro area. It’s frustrating to see the Baltimore Orioles post up billboards in P.G. County (BW Parkway right at the D.C. border, and 301) as if to claim the area as their own territory simply because it’s in the state of MD. P.G. County is a part of the D.C. area, as is Montgomery County, and has no connection to the Baltimore area other than it happens to be in the same state. My question is- What are you doing to continue establishing your territory on the MD side of the D.C. metro area? It just feels like we get less attention than the VA side of the DC area. There should be a lot more presence here. This is all Nats country. O’s country stops in Howard and Anne Arundel counties. 

As a fan who grew up in the Maryland suburbs, I know how strong our fanbase is there. Believe me, we are going to keep growing our brand throughout Maryland and the entire DMV. We are working to develop innovative ways to reach and keep those fans.  Keep your eyes open and I think you will see some additional presence through our community relations and marketing.

Any big changes/new developments you are working on at Nationals Park?

We’re always working on enhancing the fan experience – from concessions to giveaways to seating options. Last season we created the private clubs within the ballpark, K Street boxes and Club 24, unveiled the Lansinoh Lounge for nursing mothers and hosted Jose Andres’ Pepe food truck – to name just a few.  We have some great things being developed during the offseason, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise!

What’s being done about security at Nats Park. I want to feel safe at the ballpark. The security staff seems as though they don’t take their job seriously.

I disagree with your assessment. Our security is second to none. Most of the comments I’ve gotten about security – both from the perspective of friendliness as well as professionalism – have been very positive. If you have specific instances, you should alert the organization immediately using the in-park text messaging system. Our staff is very well-trained and we are vigilant about providing the best and most effective public security possible, as well as the best game-day experience.

Seriously, you should have interviewed me for the skipper job! What women do you have in your team execution group? You need us! I am available if price is right!! #womentowinworldseries

I am proud that the Washington Nationals have one of the best records in professional sports when it comes to hiring.  We currently have more women working in executive positions in our front office than not only any other in Major League Baseball, but than any other team in professional sports in America. I do think we will begin to see more women breaking into baseball operations departments throughout baseball, and we will see women assuming high ranking jobs on the field.

Can you share your feelings regarding last season? The thank you letter to fans at the end of the season said “Our desire to do better – to be better – burns stronger than ever.” What do you view as the biggest issue that contributed to the disappointing season?

Our family’s goal is to bring a World Series back to Washington. We strive to be a playoff-caliber team every year. We were disappointed that we weren’t able to be that last season. But we are moving forward to next season and are excited to usher in the Dusty Baker era. We have put into place several other significant changes, too, from hiring a new coaching staff to restructuring our medical team and we’re hopeful that the 2016 season will be a great one.

Why won’t the Nationals pay to have Metro run late for evening games?

We’ve consistently said that as a world-class city – and the Nation’s Capital – D.C. needs to have a world-class public transportation system and that includes an extended hours schedule like every other major American city. Currently our fans contribute millions of dollars and thousands of hours a year to WMATA traveling to and from games during our 81 home games.  That usage should be reflected in extended hours.

The construction scheduled for the new spring training facility is very ambitious. How confident are you that you will be able to meet the goal to open in time for 2017? And what is the plan if it can’t happen in time? 

This is going to be such a wonderful complex for our team, our fans, and the Palm Beach community. We’re really excited for this new chapter for our organization and are happy to have such wonderful partners in the Astros organization. The new facility will feature Major League-size practice fields, minor league-size practice fields, batting cages and pitching mounds. The stadium itself will significantly improve the fan experience with 6,400 ticketed seats and 1,250 ticketed berm seats, as well as suites, party decks, concession stands, team store, a picnic area and outfield attractions.  The Palm Beach location also has lots of flights to and from D.C. and features expanded hotel and restaurant options. It is an aggressive timetable. Our organization, and the Astros and our contractors are very aware of what needs to be done. The local governments and our new neighbors have been great and are engaged in working to meet the deadline to open our doors to fans for 2017’s spring training.

Why do you believe Dusty Baker is the right man for the job?

There was unnecessary confusion and misinformation during the hiring process because of so many false reports. We were thrilled to bring Dusty on board. He is a fantastic addition to the team and we are incredibly excited to see what he will bring to the clubhouse. He brings nearly 50 years of professional baseball experience with him – he is among the winningest managers in baseball history. He has deep postseason experience, both as a manager and as a player – and has produced seven postseason teams, including five division championships. He’ll help create a clubhouse focused on winning and he’s a lot of fun to be around. We think players and fans will really connect with him.

Many people have pointed out that MLB has had very few African-American managers. What are your thoughts on how baseball can become more diverse at all levels?

Diversity at all levels helps make the game better. We support MLB’s efforts to enhance diversity within the management ranks and believe it is important. We’re proud to have Dusty. Dusty is the best person to be our manager right now. Period. Of course, we are also proud that our most recent coaching hires have made us more diverse.

I see that NatsFest has been expanded to two days and now has a winter theme. Why did you make these changes and how will NatsFest be different this year? 

We think everyone will really enjoy the new and improved WinterFest experience! Two days – December 12 and 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the DC Convention Center – with new winter-themed games and photos with Santa – and old favorites like the Kids Press Conference, Player Story Times and autograph sessions. Dusty Baker will be attending, as well as players. Tickets are available at nationals.com/NatsWinterfest  – $30 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $35 for adults and $22 for children 12 and under.

We heard from fans that the one-day only model was difficult given how busy families are during the holiday season. Expanding to two days gives our fans more options. We also looked at the calendar and realized that given the timing, it made sense to incorporate a winter theme along with fan favorites from previous years.

Mr. Lerner,
Your manager just made dismissive comments about allegations of domestic violence allegedly perpetrated by a former player of his. My question: what are you planning on doing about it, knowing that silence or a vague non-apology is not acceptable?  

The Nationals and MLB take domestic violence very seriously. We support the policies the league has put into place regarding this issue. Dusty gave the eulogy less than a year ago at Darryl Hamilton’s funeral, whose death was tragically a result of domestic violence. He has personal experience with domestic violence, and seen the repercussions of it to those very close to him. He was in no way condoning or trivializing the allegations. Dusty was sharing his personal impressions of Chapman based on his experience managing him for the Reds, and commenting on the man he knew then. He has clarified that his hope was that Chapman, the Chapman he knew, had not committed the reported acts of violence.

The Nats had great success and overwhelming crowd participation when Take On Me was played during the 7th-inning stretch.  Now, it seems it’s hard to get much involvement and participation has dwindled. Why is Take On Me no longer played and will you ever bring it back to the 7th-inning stretch?  

Thanks for this question. We’ve heard from many fans that they would like a larger variety of songs incorporated into the game experience, so we’ve experimented with different things. We’re working on what will be played next season and appreciate your feedback!

Given Wednesday’s announcement by MLB regarding proposed netting guidelines, what sections will be impacted at Nationals Park?

We take the health and safety of our fans very seriously. We’ve been told by MLB that our current netting meets the standards proposed this week.

Nationals acquire RHP Trevor Gott & RHP Michael Brady

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals acquired right-handed reliever Trevor Gott and minor league right-handed pitcher Michael Brady from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for infielder Yunel Escobar and cash considerations on Thursday.

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

A hard-throwing right-hander, Gott joins the Nationals after appearing in 48 games for the Angels in 2015, including his Major League debut on June 14 vs. the Oakland Athletics. The 23-year-old posted a 3.02 ERA and a 4-2 record in 47.2 innings during his first Major League season, striking out 27 batters and walking 16. Gott finished seven games for the Angels.

A native of Lexington, Ky., Gott has averaged 96.74 mph on his fastball during his Major League career – and touched 98.8 mph (according to BrooksBaseball.com) — as part of a repertoire that also includes a changeup and a curveball. A sixth-round selection of the San Diego Padres in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Gott was a part of the package of players utilized by the Padres to acquire closer Huston Street in July, 2014.

In three Minor League seasons Gott was 7-7 with a 2.69 ERA in 108 games (124.0 IP). He finished 64 games and earned 30 saves.

Brady, 28, has compiled a 20-21 record and a 3.08 ERA over the course of six minor league seasons, spanning all levels (251 games, 385.1 IP). Originally a 24th-round selection of the Florida Marlins out of the University of California, Berkeley, Brady was claimed on waivers by the Angels in April, 2014.

at Dodger Stadium on August 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

Escobar, 33, hit .314 with a .375 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage in 139 games for the Nationals in 2015. The veteran infielder started 134 games at third base and clubbed 25 doubles, one triple and nine home runs. His .314 batting average ranked sixth in the National League and his 49 multi-hit games were the eighth most by any National League player in 2015.

Acquired from the Oakland Athletics on January 14, 2015 in exchange for right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard, Escobar’s lone season in Washington featured his highest batting average since his rookie (2007) season with the Atlanta Braves.

With the addition of Gott, the Nationals currently have 37 players on their 40-man roster.

Nats launch search for newest concession at Nationals Park

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Local vendors and restaurants have one more week to send in their culinary concepts!

The Nationals strive to bring tasty additions to the ballpark each season in an effort to keep the guest experience fresh and exciting. In 2015, the Nationals unveiled several new concessions at Nationals Park, including grilled cheese sandwiches and decadent mac and cheese at Throwin’ Cheese in Section 130, and New York-style thin-crust pizza at Enzo’s Pizza in Sections 214 and 225. In May, Virginia Country Kitchen opened in Section 113, offering delicious homemade biscuits and Virginian beer and wine.

Nats fans have embraced these new concessions, and during the 2015 season, guests at Nationals Park consumed:

  • More than 73,000 pizza slices from Enzo’s
  • More than 11,000 biscuits from Virginia Country Kitchen
  • Nearly 10,500 grilled cheeses from Throwin’ Cheese

Through the “Pitch Your Product” culinary showcase, your concession could be the next big thing at Nationals Park during the 2016 season!

The Nationals are giving local vendors and restaurants the chance to pitch their culinary concepts to be sold at Nationals Park during the 2016 season. Businesses from D.C., Maryland and Virginia have the exciting opportunity to have their product featured at a Major League ballpark.

pitch your product 2“We are always looking for opportunities to offer a greater variety of local culinary flavors at Nationals Park,” said Valerie Camillo, Nationals Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer. “We believe the ‘Pitch Your Product’ showcase will help us achieve this goal, while also giving vendors and restaurants from across D.C., Maryland and Virginia the chance to expand their visibility.”

Here’s how it works:

  • Those interested must email concessions@nationals.com with their contact information and a brief description of their culinary concept.
  • Applications will then be sent to select candidates.
  • Individual food products and restaurant brands will both be considered, and finalists will be invited to formally present their concession idea to a panel of judges at Nationals Park in December.
  • The deadline to apply is Friday, November 27.
  • Additional details and guidelines are available at nationals.com/concessions. Some restrictions may apply.

And here are a few guidelines to keep in mind: 

  • All restaurants and suppliers must be able to complete and submit the requirements listed here.
  • Vendors and restaurants must be locally based and have a maximum of five restaurants.

May the odds be ever in your “flavor!”

Bryce Harper named 2015 National League MVP

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by Amanda Comak

BryceQuotesIGWashington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was named the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player on Thursday night, in an announcement made by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on MLB Network.

Harper, who was 22 years, 353 days old at the close of the 2015 season, is the fourth-youngest player ever to win the MVP award, and the third-youngest to take the National League honors. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only players younger than Harper ever to earn baseball’s highest single-season honor were Vida Blue (AL) in 1971 (22 years, 64 days), Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, in 1970 (22 years, 298 days), and Hall of Famer Stan Musial, in 1943 (22 years, 316 days).

Harper, the first MVP in franchise history (Nationals/Expos), garnered 420 points in the balloting process, including 30 first-place votes, and finished 186 points ahead of the second-place finisher, Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Harper is just the seventh unanimous NL winner of the MVP award, and the youngest ever to accomplish the feat.

“The entire Lerner family extends congratulations to Bryce on his well-deserved Most Valuable Player award and his tremendous, record-setting season,” said Washington Nationals Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner. “It’s such a pleasure to watch him play and we look forward to his future outstanding contributions to the team.”

This caps an award-filled season for Harper, who joins Hall of Famer Walter Johnson (1913 & 1924) and Roger Peckinpaugh (1925) of the Washington Senators as D.C. MVP honorees. Harper’s 2015 season also earned him the NL Hank Aaron Award, a Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger, the Player’s Choice Award for NL Outstanding Player, NL Player of the Month honors for May, three NL Player of the Week awards (May 4-10, 11-17, and Sept. 14-20), and the third All-Star selection of his career. Harper, who started in right field and hit third for the NL squad at the mid-summer classic, earned an NL-record 13,964,950 fan votes to be an All-Star starter.

BryceOverheadTW“What a remarkable achievement for Bryce, to become the first Nationals or Expos player ever to earn the Most Valuable Player award,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “There has never been a question about Bryce’s talent. It’s transcendent. And to watch him put together the type of historic season he did in 2015 – at age 22 – only heightens the excitement for what remains ahead of him. We are extremely proud.

“I also want to congratulate Bryce’s family, as well as our entire organization – including Bryce’s teammates, coaches, support staff, and scouting and player development – for the role they all played in helping Bryce earn this distinguished honor.”

Harper hit .330 with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage in 2015, clubbing 42 home runs, 38 doubles and one triple. He scored 118 runs and drove in 99. At the close of the season, Harper led the Major Leagues in a number of categories, including: on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS (1.109), and Wins Above Replacement (9.5, per Fangraphs.com). He also led the National League in home runs (T1st, 42), at-bats per home run (12.40), and runs scored (118), while ranking second in the NL in walks with a franchise (WSH/MON) record 124.

The youngest player in MLB history to club 42 home runs and walk 124 times in a season (youngest since Babe Ruth, who hit 54 home runs and 150 walks in 1920 at age 25), Harper is also just the second player since 2000 to accumulate at least 42 homers, 124 walks, and 118 runs in a season, joining Barry Bonds (2001 – MVP, 2004 – MVP). In a season that included a three-homer game (May 6 vs. MIA), two four-walk, four-run games (Aug. 18 at COL & Sept. 3 vs. ATL), and the 500th hit of his career (HR, Sept. 5 vs ATL), Harper solidified his place among the game’s elite players.

This is the second BBWAA honor of Harper’s young career, as he was also named the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year, earning that award after his age-19 season.

Nationals announce new medical structure

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With a focus on being proactive and utilizing injury-prevention techniques, the Washington Nationals announced a new medical structure and expansion on Tuesday, with several personnel additions and changes. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.

In an innovative shift, the Nationals are transitioning their medical department to one that utilizes a proactive model, with significant analytic input. This will allow the Nationals to hone in on predictive factors to thwart potential injurious situations, and increase performance, by maintaining the health and wellness of their players.

The Nationals are pleased to welcome Harvey Sharman, the Director of Sports Medicine/Science for the Leeds United Football Club, as Executive Director/Medical Services. He will work with a Medical Services advisory board to oversee all facets of the Nationals’ training staff, and strength and conditioning programming.

The Nationals’ advisory board will be headed by: Dr. Keith Pyne, Chairman/Medical Services Advisory Board, Dr. Robin West, Lead Team Physician, and Bob Miller, Nationals Vice President & Assistant General Manager. Overall, the Nationals’ medical department will expand from 43 full- and part-time personnel to at least 48, reflecting the organization’s further investment in the health and wellness of Nationals players. The Nationals are also currently in discussions with additional personnel that will continue to expand the department.

Sharman, a physiotherapist, comes to Washington after 15 years with the Leeds United Football Club, the previous eight as the organization’s Director of Sports Medicine/Science. Sharman began with Leeds as an assistant physiotherapist, but evolved into the head of the organization’s medical department. During this time, Sharman focused on movement dysfunction, and, subsequently, the development of injury-prevention strategies. With Leeds, Sharman oversaw an injury reduction of more than 50 percent, including a significant drop in soft-tissue injuries (muscular/ligament/tendon injuries).

West, a board-certified orthopedics and sports medicine surgeon, joined Inova in July 2014 as the Medical Director of the Sports Medicine Institute at Inova, where she oversees the program’s clinical, strategic, administrative and academic affairs. West, who has a special interest in the prevention and management of injuries, has served previously as the assistant team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the head team physician for the Carnegie Mellon University athletic department, and as the head team physician for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, and swimming and diving programs. A Southern California native, West joined Inova after more than 11 years of clinical experience as an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Pyne, head of Keith E. Pyne, D.C. PLLC in New York City, specializes in working with specific professional sports injuries. His treatment concentrates on the neuromuscular structural integration that resolves injuries and biomechanical discrepancies by addressing the problem in the body’s kinetic chain. Pyne, who has been consulting for the Nationals since 2012, has consulted with and treated over 1,300 professional athletes across all major sports (including: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, boxing, golf, and track & field).

In addition to the significant changes atop the medical structure, the Nationals are also proud to announce the following additions and retentions:

  • Paul Lessard joins the Nationals as Director, Athletic Training following six seasons as the Cincinnati Reds’ Head Athletic Trainer. With 18 years of experience as a Head Athletic Trainer in the Major Leagues, Washington is Lessard’s fourth Major League organization, having worked with the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2005), and Boston Red Sox (2006-2009), in addition to the Reds (2010-2015). He has twice been selected to represent the National League at the MLB All-Star game (2012 & 2015). Lessard, a 1986 graduate of Northeastern University, spent 10 years as an Athletic Trainer for Boston University (1988-94) and the College of Holy Cross (1994-97). Before he was hired by BU, he spent two summers as Assistant Athletic Trainer for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons (1985- 86) and two seasons with the New York Yankees’ Class-A Ft. Lauderdale affiliate (1987-88).
  • Dale Gilbert comes to Washington as an Athletic Trainer after five seasons with the Texas Rangers, the previous four as the club’s medical coordinator. Gilbert originally joined the Rangers as the organization’s rehab coordinator in 2011. Before heading to Texas, Gilbert spent eight seasons with the Kansas City Royals (2003-2010), ascending through the Royals’ ranks from rehab coordinator to medical coordinator and, ultimately, athletic trainer. Gilbert spent six seasons (1997-2002) working as an athletic trainer in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization before joining the Royals. The Montana native earned his degree in exercise science and physical education, with a minor in Spanish, from Arizona State University.
  • John Hsu, who joined the Nationals in 2010, will remain on staff as an Athletic Training Assistant. The versatile Hsu, who has been on staff as an Athletic Training Assistant the past five seasons, got his start in professional baseball as an athletic trainer for the Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) National Baseball Team (2004-05). Hsu graduated from California Baptist University with a master’s degree in athletic training in 2010, after earning a bachelor’s degree from the National Taiwan College of Physical Education in 2003.
  • Matt Eiden, a six-year member of the Nationals’ strength and conditioning team, will return as the Nationals’ Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. Eiden, who previously served as the Nationals’ Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach from 2011-2015, as well as their Strength and Conditioning Intern from 2009-2010, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. A graduate of St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., Eiden played baseball and earned a degree in Business Management from Mount St. Mary’s University (MD) before playing independent professional baseball in the Arizona Winter League and in Galveston, Tex.
  • Patrick Panico, who had previously served the Nationals as a Massage Therapist, will shift into the role of Corrective Exercise Specialist. Panico, who has been with the Nationals since the start of the 2013 season and has worked as a massage therapist/strength coach for over 20 years, was the founder of SPORTSFITNYC Integrated Conditioning Specialists in New York City. Panico’s professional baseball resume includes three years in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization as a Minor League Strength and Conditioning coach. Panico has studied a number of alternative therapeutic methods, including Active Release Technique, Trager Therapy and dynamic stretch, as well as sports massage.
  • Joe Cancellieri joins the Nationals as a Corrective Exercise Specialist. Cancellieri comes to Washington after two years as an Exercise Physiologist and Strength and Conditioning coach for SportsLab NYC and the John McEnroe Tennis Academy. Cancellieri, who approaches exercise from a science-driven perspective, has focused on corrective exercise, rehabilitation, neuromuscular facilitation, injury prevention and strength and conditioning. Cancellieri, a native of New York, earned his Personal Training certification in 2011, and received his Master’s degree in Bio-Behavioral Sciences with a specialization in Exercise Physiology from Columbia University in May, 2014. A competitive athlete throughout his life, Cancellieri became involved in the sport of Motocross as a teenager and has raced professionally since 2010.

The Nationals have also retained Dr. Thomas Cullen (Team Physician and Internist) and Dr. Bruce Thomas (Team Physician, Florida).

The Inova Sports Medicine Institute (ISMI) provides a unique experience focused on personalized care and comprehensive treatment to athletes and active people of all ages and abilities.  Inova’s innovative approach to sports medicine encompasses all aspects of sports performance and wellness including injury care and prevention, rehabilitation and nutrition, and mental and physical performance.  Led by Medical Director Robin West, MD, ISMI focuses on the entire mechanics of the athlete to determine the root cause of an injury and develop prevention strategies that will minimize recurrence and maximize athletic performance for the future.

ISMI methods include a concierge approach to sports medicine with a customized treatment plan based on the needs of each patient. Our expert team includes athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports psychologists and nutritionists who work together to develop a personalized plan, tailored to the specific injuries and goals for recovery of each patient.

Nationals announce 2015 organizational awards

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By Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals named first baseman Jose Marmolejos their Minor League Player of the Year and right-handed pitcher Austin Voth their Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The club also named right-handed pitcher Austen Williams the recipient of the third-annual Bob Boone Award.

farm graphicMarmolejos, 22, led the South Atlantic League in hits (145), doubles (39) and RBI (87), ranked second in the league in slugging percentage (.485) and batting average (.310), and ranked third in OPS (.848) while playing in a team-high 124 games for Washington’s Single-A affiliate. He paced the Nationals’ Minor League system in hits (145), doubles (39), RBI (87), slugging percentage (.485) and batting average (.310).

A former non-drafted free agent, Marmolejos had a particularly strong second half of the season, hitting .335 with 24 doubles, two triples, six home runs, 55 RBI, 27 walks and 37 runs scored in the final 70 games of the season. All told, the first baseman hit .310 with 39 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs, 87 RBI, 35 walks and 63 runs scored in 2015. For his efforts, he was named a South Atlantic League post-season All-Star.

Marmolejos is in his fifth season in the organization. He was signed by Modesto Ulloa on June 9, 2011 after going undrafted in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. On September 9th, he was selected eighth overall by Tigres del Licey in the 2015 Dominican Winter League Rookie Draft.

Voth, 23, led all Nationals farmhands with 148 strikeouts and he ranked third in the organization with a 2.92 ERA. His 148 strikeouts ranked second in all of Double-A and were tied for ninth in all of Minor League Baseball. Voth went 6-7 with a 2.92 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) for the Harrisburg Senators, Washington’s Double-A Eastern League affiliate.

A fifth-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Washington, Voth led the Eastern League in strikeouts (148), strikeouts/9.0 innings (8.47) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.70). He also ranked among league leaders in hits/9.0 innings (2nd, 7.67), WHIP (5th, 1.11), home runs/9.0 innings (5th, 0.57), ERA (8th, 2.92) and walks/9.0 innings (9th, 2.29). He earned Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors September 7th and was named an Eastern League mid-season All-Star.

Williams, 22, becomes the third recipient of the Bob Boone Award, which is granted annually to the Nationals minor leaguer who best demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the ‘Washington Nationals Way.’

Williams went 12-8 with a 2.58 ERA in 25 starts across three levels of Washington’s Minor League system. He began the season with Single-A Hagerstown before being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse for a spot start on June 4. He was then transferred to Single-A Potomac on June 11, where he finished the season. Williams struck out 106 batters, walked 33, surrendered just five home runs and posted a 1.10 WHIP while opposing batters hit .231 against him. He ranked among Nationals Minor Leaguers in ERA (2nd, 2.58), wins (2nd, 12) and strikeouts (T4th, 106).

Selected in the sixth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Texas State University, Williams was named a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star after going 8-1 with a 2.10 ERA (17 ER/73.0 IP) in 13 starts for Single-A Hagerstown.

The Nationals will honor these players in a ceremony at Space Coast Stadium during 2016 Spring Training.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS ORGANIZATIONAL AWARD WINNERS

2015: 1B Jose Marmolejos (Player of the Year), RHP Austin Voth (Pitcher of the Year), RHP Austen Williams (Boone)

2014: OF Steven Souza Jr. (Player of the Year), RHP Lucas Giolito (Pitcher of the Year), INF Wilmer Difo (Boone)

2013: OF Billy Burns (Player of the Year), RHP Taylor Jordan (Pitcher of the Year), 2B Tony Renda (Boone)

2012: INF Matthew Skole (Player of the Year), RHP Nathan Karns (Pitcher of the Year)

2011: INF Steve Lombardozzi (Player of the Year), RHP Brad Peacock (Pitcher of the Year)

2010: OF Tyler Moore (Player of the Year), LHP Tom Milone (Pitcher of the Year)

2009: C Derek Norris (Player of the Year), RHP Brad Meyers (Pitcher of the Year)

2008: OF Leonard Davis (Player of the Year), RHP Jordan Zimmermann (Pitcher of the Year)

2007: OF Justin Maxwell (Player of the Year), LHP John Lannan (Pitcher of the Year)

2006:  INF Kory Casto (Player of the Year), RHP Zechry Zinicola (Pitcher of the Year)

2005: INF Kory Casto (Player of the Year), LHP Michael O’Connor (Pitcher of the Year)

Nationals announce 2016 schedule

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals announced their 2016 schedule on Tuesday, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, revealing an 81-game home slate that will begin with the home opener on April 7 vs. the Miami Marlins. The 83rd home opener in D.C. since 1901 will come after the Nationals begin the season at Atlanta with a two-game series April 4-6. Visit nationals.com to view the full schedule.

800x800-Schedule-wasNationals Park will play host to 11 homestands, four of which will span 10 days, and include 13 weekend series. The home schedule will be highlighted by visits from the American League Central in Interleague play. The Nationals will welcome the Minnesota Twins (April 22-24), Detroit Tigers (May 9-11), and the Cleveland Indians (Aug. 9-10), and will visit the Chicago White Sox (June 7-9), the Kansas City Royals (May 2-4), and Cleveland (July 26-27).

The Nationals will celebrate with holiday crowds twice in 2016, first with the annual Fourth of July contest, as the Milwaukee Brewers visit the nation’s capital for the nation’s birthday, and concluding with a visit from the Philadelphia Phillies on Labor Day (Sept. 5).

Weekends at Nationals Park will feature visits from the Miami Marlins (April 7-10, May 13-15, Sept. 30-Oct. 2), Minnesota Twins (April 22-24), St. Louis Cardinals (May 26-29), Philadelphia Phillies (June 10-12, Sept. 8-11), Cincinnati Reds (July 1-3), Pittsburgh Pirates (July 15-17), San Diego Padres (July 22-24), San Francisco Giants (Aug. 5-7), Atlanta Braves (Aug. 12-14), and Colorado Rockies (Aug. 26-28).

The Nationals’ road slate features two west coast trips as the club will travel to San Diego and Los Angeles in June (16-22) before closing that 10-game trip with a three-game set in Milwaukee. The Nationals will then head west once more at the end of July as they close a nine-game trip that begins in Cleveland (July 26-27), with stops in San Francisco (July 28-31) and Arizona (Aug. 1-3).

2016 ScheduleThe annual Beltway Series with the Baltimore Orioles will take place in August during a four-game home-and-home. The Nationals will travel to Baltimore at the end of a nine-game trip that starts in Colorado (Aug. 15-17), stops in Atlanta (Aug. 18-21) and wraps up in Baltimore (Aug. 22-23). The two Mid-Atlantic teams will then head down to D.C. to finish up the series with two at Nationals Park (Aug 24-25).

Nineteen of the Nationals’ first 22 games will come against divisional foes. Washington will finish the 2016 season playing 25 of their final 32 games within the National League East as well.

The Nationals will conclude the 2016 regular season with a seven-game homestand that will feature a four-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks (Sept. 26-29) and finish with three games against the Miami Marlins (Sept. 30-Oct. 2).

All dates and opponents on this schedule are subject to change. Visit nationals.com to view the full schedule. To secure the best seats at the best price with a 2016 NATS PLUS Membership, visit nationals.com/natsplus, call 202.675.NATS(6287) or email at ticketinfo@nationals.com.

Nationals reinstate CF Denard Span

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated center fielder Denard Span from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, and optioned right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark to Single-A Potomac.

Span, 31, returns to the Nationals after missing 40 games due to back tightness. The Nationals’ leadoff man is coming off six rehab games – spanning stops with Single-A Hagerstown, Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg – in which he hit .412 with a .500 on-base percentage and a .588 slugging percentage. Span went 7-for-17 with one home run, three walks and six runs scored.

In 59 games with the Nationals this season, Span is hitting .304 (72-for-237) with a .367 on-base percentage and a .430 slugging percentage. In 265 plate appearances, Span has clubbed 15 doubles and five home runs, walked 24 times and stolen 11 bases.

One of the most dynamic center fielders in the game, Span is coming off arguably his finest Major League season. Hitting .302 with a Nationals (2005-present) single-season record 184 hits in 2014, Span collected a career-high 52 extra-base hits last season, to go along with a career-best 31 stolen bases. He became just the sixth qualified player in Nationals history to hit .300 or better, joining Cristian Guzman, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Dmitri Young and Ryan Zimmerman.

Roark, 28, is 4-4 with four holds and one save, along with a 4.54 ERA in 34 games (six games started) this season. The versatile right-hander is career 26-15 with a 3.04 ERA since his MLB debut, Aug. 7, 2013. In that span, Roark has started 42 games for the Nationals, including 31 (15-10, 2.85 ERA) during his breakout 2014 season. While with Potomac Roark will transition to the starting rotation.

Nationals select contract of SS Trea Turner

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals selected the contract of shortstop Trea Turner from Triple-A Syracuse on Friday and placed first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 19, with a left ankle sprain. Additionally, right-handed pitcher Aaron Barrett (right elbow sprain) was transferred to the 60-day DL.

Turner joins the Nationals for the first Major League assignment of his career. Ranked the No. 9 (Baseball America) and No. 12 (MLB.com) best prospect in all of baseball, Turner arrives in the Major Leagues having hit .322 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage in 116 minor league games this season.

Acquired from the San Diego Padres on June 14 – completing the Dec. 18, 2014 three-team trade in which Washington acquired right-handed pitcher Joe Ross and a Player to be Named from the Padres, and sent outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and Minor League left-handed pitcher Travis Ott to the Tampa Bay Rays – Turner has played at two different levels for three different teams this year.

The speedy infielder hit .322 (73-for-227) with 13 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 35 RBI, 24 walks, 11 stolen bases and 31 runs scored in 58 games for San Diego’s Double-A affiliate, the San Antonio Missions, to open his 2015 season. He posted a .385 on-base percentage, a .471 slugging percentage and an .856 OPS along the way.

After officially joining the Nationals’ organization, Turner hit .359/.366/.513 with four doubles, one triple, four RBI, one walk and four stolen bases in 10 games with Double-A Harrisburg. Turner, 22, was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse on June 26, and has hit .314/.353/.431 with seven doubles, three triples, three home runs, 13 walks, 14 stolen bases and 15 RBI in his first experience (48 games) at the highest level of the minor leagues.

Turner joined right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito in representing the Nationals at the Sirius/XM MLB All-Star Futures Game in Cincinnati in July. He went 2-for-2 with a double, triple, and two RBI in the annual prospect showcase.

A first-round selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft (No. 13 overall), Turner entered the 2015 season rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Padres’ chain and the No. 65 prospect in all of baseball, per Baseball America, and his stock has risen considerably this season.

Turner boasts advanced speed and base running ability. According to Baseball America, Turner had the “Best Strike-Zone Discipline,” and was the “Best Athlete” and “Best Defensive Infielder” in the San Diego Minor League system prior to his trade to Washington.

Moore, 28, is hitting .200 for the Nationals this season with 10 doubles, four home runs and 22 RBI. Appearing predominantly off the Nationals’ bench (Moore has started 28 games, 1B: 17; OF: 11), the Mississippi native has four pinch hits and one pinch-hit home run in 2015.

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