Nationals Magazine Preview: Kevin Frandsen; His Brother’s Keeper

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The following is an excerpt from the August/September issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The August/September issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

by Amanda Comak

frandsen magFriends and family often tell Kevin Frandsen that it feels like yesterday that their world was shattered. That it seems as though hardly any time has passed since his older brother, DJ, retired from his 19-year battle with kidney cancer.

But this September it will be 10 years. And the Washington Nationals utility man has felt every second of DJ’s absence.

“If you told me it’s closer to 20 years, that’s what it’s felt like,” Frandsen said in late June. “Because when you lose your best friend (you feel it). Every day I talk to him, every single day.”

Frandsen paused and glanced at his surroundings. He sat on the edge of the dugout at Wrigley Field, a baseball cathedral, playing for a team that he calls “the winner you dream about being on,” and talked about how much he wishes DJ were here to see him now.

“Ten years,” Frandsen said. “It’s nuts.”

Frandsen’s memories of DJ are so vivid, so present in his mind. He smiles when he talks about the day he got drafted by the San Francisco Giants, and about how DJ cheered him up when the wait to hear his name languished past the 11th round. Frandsen had retreated to the batting cage their dad, Dave, had built in their backyard. Over the years, it’d become Kevin’s sanctuary. When he couldn’t be with the rest of his family at the hospital with DJ, he’d hit.

“DJ had just gotten back from another round of chemo and I was getting frustrated because I hadn’t been drafted yet and it was the eighth or ninth round,” Frandsen recalled. “I went into the cage to get away and at the end of the 11th round he was like, ‘You need to come back in. It’s time. You’re going to get drafted.'”

With the 29th pick in the 12th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, the Giants called Frandsen’s name.

“They give the number, and then they said ‘Frandsen, Kevin,'” Frandsen said. “And DJ, he could barely run. Walking was tough. But he was running outside with his shirt off.”

That year, as Frandsen began his professional career, DJ and Dave surprised him and showed up at his first game. The last time DJ ever saw Kevin play, he went 4-for-4 with two doubles. Later that season, Frandsen was playing a ground ball at second when the runner on first collided with him and broke his collar bone.

The injury was crushing. But it was also a blessing. In the final seven weeks of DJ’s life, the injury allowed Kevin to spend each day with his big brother — who is three years, five days older, Kevin is quick to point out.

DJ passed away on Sept. 16, 2004. He was 25. He’d fought cancer off and on since he was six.

In the years since DJ’s passing, Frandsen and his family have ensured that he would be a part of their everyday life, and that families going through what theirs did might have a slightly easier road. They set up “19 for Life” in DJ’s honor, and the foundation has become exactly the type of shining light they’d hoped it would.

Mag3_CoverTo continue reading “His Brother’s Keeper” on Nationals utility man Kevin Frandsen, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

Nationals Game Notes — Aug. 22 vs. San Francisco

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Game No. 127: Washington Nationals (73-53) vs. San Francisco Giants (67-59) | 7:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: RHP Doug Fister (12-3, 2.20 ERA) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (8-9, 3.03)
Both Washington Nationals right-hander Doug Fister (9th, 1.61/1) and San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Hudson (2.33/1) rank among the top 10 among current National League pitchers in ground ball-to-fly ball ratio.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN and MLBNetwork
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • The Nationals are on a 10-game winning streak, which is tied for the longest streak in team history. Of the 10 consecutive victories, seven have been of the one-run variety, five were comeback wins, and five were walk-off wins. During the 10-gamer, Washington has outscored its opponents, 46-23, and is batting .275 with 10 homers, but the keys have been pitching (1.82 team ERA, 1.34 ERA from starting staff) and defense (seven errorless games).

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

NATIONALS (73-53)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
6 Anthony Rendon 3B
28 Jayson Werth RF
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
40 Wilson Ramos C
3 Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 2B
58 Doug Fister (L) RHP

GIANTS (67-59)

16 Angel Pagan (S) CF
8 Hunter Pence RF
28 Buster Posey C
48 Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
38 Michael Morse LF
12 Joe Panik (L) 2B
45 Travis Ishikawa (L) 1B
35 Brandon Crawford (L) SS
17 Tim Hudson RHP

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

Nationals Magazine Preview: Doug Fister; Rapid Fire

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The following is an excerpt from the August/September issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The August/September issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

by Mike Feigen

In a game built upon one-on-one confrontations set at a methodical pace, Nationals starter Doug Fister has made an up-tempo style the centerpiece of his attack on the pitcher’s mound.

rapid fire fisterDoug Fister bounded off the mound toward the Nationals’ first base dugout, his work complete after eight masterful innings. The Nationals Park crowd of 40,677 roared in approval, standing to applaud its newest difference-making right-hander. Fister let the cheers wash over him, doffing his cap to the masses before receiving a hero’s welcome from this teammates.

It may have been just one game in the course of a long, 162-game season, but the 3-0 shutout of the rival Atlanta Braves on June 21 offered a breath of fresh air. The Nationals needed no reminder that they entered that night struggling against their divisional counterparts, but on this night, their 6-foot-8 sinkerballer breezed through a lineup that had given them fits in recent months.

The victory gave the Merced, Calif. native a perfect 4-0 record in his first four home starts with his new club, including wins over the Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies in late May and early June. Fister’s early success energized the team, justifying the move Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made to fortify the rotation with a veteran starter who had past postseason success.

Before he made his Nationals debut in early May, following a minor back ailment, Fister used the first six weeks of the season to assimilate himself into the Nationals’ clubhouse. He brought with him an impressive resume, with three straight division titles and three postseason victories to his name — one more than the entire Nationals franchise can boast in its brief nine-plus years of existence.

“So far, everything’s been good,” Fister said in late June. “The biggest thing for me is just being a teammate — the baseball side will take care of itself. I feel like I’m one of the 25 guys here, and it’s a great place to be.”

Mag3_CoverTo continue reading “Rapid Fire” on Nationals right-hander Doug Fister, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

Nationals Game Notes — Aug. 20 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

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Game No. 125: Washington Nationals (71-53) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (53-73) | 7:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: RHP Tanner Roark (12-7, 2.93 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Cahill (3-8, 4.68)
Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark is 4-0 with a 0.56 ERA in five career games (four starts) against NL West competition, including seven one-run (unearned) innings against the Diamondbacks in the 2013 season finale.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • The Nationals have won a season-high eight consecutive games, the longest current winning streak in the Major Leagues. Of their eight straight wins, five have been of the one-run variety, five were comeback victories, and three were walk-off wins. Only one winning streak in Nationals history has lasted longer than their current eight-game stretch, a 10-game run from June 2-12, 2005.

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

NATIONALS (71-53)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
3 Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 2B
28 Jayson Werth RF
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
40 Wilson Ramos C
19 Kevin Frandsen 3B
57 Tanner Roark RHP

Diamondbacks (53-73)

5 Ender Inciarte (L) CF
4 Cliff Pennington (S) 3B
6 David Peralta (L) RF
15 Mark Trumbo LF
26 Miguel Montero (L) C
2 Aaron Hill 2B
17 Alfredo Marte LF
1 Didi Gregorious (L) SS
35 Trevor Cahill RHP

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

Nationals Magazine Preview: Anthony Rendon; Equilibrium

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The following is an excerpt from the August/September issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The August/September issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

by Mike Feigen

No matter the game situation, the position he plays on the diamond or the spot he hits in the lineup, Anthony Rendon serves as the Washington Nationals’ steadying influence.

At one end of the spectrum stands The Era of Twitter, the 24-hour news cycle, newspaper comments sections and ubiquitous “hot take” sports columns. The gravitational pull of this collective force draws unsuspecting victims into its orbit, with misstatements becoming headline news and free agent decisions drawing round-the-clock coverage.

Mag3_CoverAt the other end stands a reserved, unassuming 24-year-old, grinning sheepishly — perhaps reluctantly — as a cluster of reporters scurry to form a semicircle around the padded folding chair in front of his locker. With his back to the scene, he collects his thoughts, takes a deep breath, and turns to face the scribes, with the chair forming a symbolic barrier between himself and The Era, lest it envelop him, too.

Whether he wants to admit it or not, the Nationals’ success through the first three-and-a-half months of the season was largely a credit to the work put in by Anthony Rendon. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound second and third baseman enjoyed a tremendous all-around first half, hitting .287/.343/.490 with 13 home runs, 53 runs batted in, 67 runs scored and eight stolen bases.

His cool, calm and collected approach at the plate and in the field gave the Nationals a dependable presence on a daily basis, with injuries sidelining Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Wilson Ramos, Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman for a combined 168 games at various points in April, May and June.

Beginning the year as Matt Williams’ Opening Day second baseman — and hitting the back-breaking three-run home run in that game — Rendon started nearly every day at third base when Zimmerman went down less than two weeks into the year, before moving back to second upon Harper’s return on the last day of June. He provided excellent defense wherever he played, showing remarkable range, nifty glove work and a howitzer for a right arm.

Rendon’s success at the plate earned him a series of “promotions” up the lineup card, moving from the eighth spot in the opener — that experiment lasted just one day — before settling in nicely as Williams’ everyday No. 2 hitter behind Span. He hit at least once in every spot in the order along the way, including five times at the No. 5 spot and nine times in the leadoff role.

Span has seen an uptick in the amount of quality pitches he has to hit with Rendon hitting behind him, driving 28 doubles prior to the All-Star break — matching his entire 2013 total in 278 fewer plate appearances.

“(Anthony) has been the catalyst,” Span said in early July. “He’s done everything — he’s gotten on base, he’s scored runs, he’s knocked in a ton of runs. Defensively, he’s been unbelievable at second and third base. He’s been our MVP so far in this first half of the season.”

Mag3_CoverTo continue reading “Equilibrium” on Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

A pregame chat with Adam LaRoche

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This is an excerpt from Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche’s interview with Charlie Slowes from the Nationals On-Deck pre-game radio show:

Washington NationalsCharlie Slowes: Welcome back to Nationals On-Deck. Our guest is the hero of (Monday) night’s win, with a walk-off home run, Adam LaRoche. You got a Gatorade Bath at home plate, but as we speak right now, you’re still wet. That’s not from last night though?

Adam LaRoche: No, it’s not, we just did the “Ice Bucket challenge” for ALS, which I think is an awesome thing. I was called out by Brian Keaton with the Wounded Warriors and also Willie Robertson with Buck and Duck Commander, so it was nice to knock that out. We accepted the challenge — myself, one of the wounded warriors, and then Desi (Ian Desmond) and Doug (Fister) joined me on that. So, yes, we are soaked and cold.

CS: You, Ian Desmond, and Doug Fister all at once?

AL: Yup, we were all challenged by various people, so we figured we’d knock it out on the field pregame.

CS: Well, you knocked it out of the park last night, off the facing of the second deck behind the bullpen in the bottom of the 11th inning. This was the 236th career home run for you, but your first career walk off?

AL: I don’t know what to say about that, I’ve been a little bit snake bit in those situations. As the years go by, you just kind of figure that it’s not meant to be. It seems like all my ninth inning or extra inning homers come on the road. Fortunately enough, last night I got that first one under my belt and hopefully it won’t be the last.

Washington NationalsCS: We hope so too. I’m sure Nationals fans would agree. A 3-1 breaking ball; I don’t know if you were looking for it, but I could tell when I watched the replay you recognized it immediately, almost before it was out of the pitcher’s hand.

AL: I wasn’t looking for it in that situation. Typically with no one on and a 3-1 count, the last thing they want to do is put the winning run on base, but I just happened to catch it just right coming out of his hand and hit it pretty good. (It’s been) a crazy stretch here to say the least, these last few days — they’re wins so we’ll take ’em, but we’ve put ourselves in those situations the last few days where we could have made it probably a little bit easier on ourselves and a little less stressful on our skipper. We’re going to carry this momentum as long as we can.

Nationals Game Notes — Aug. 19 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

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Game No. 124: Washington Nationals (70-53) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (53-72) | 7:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: RHP Stephen Strasburg (9-10, 3.53 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (7-4, 3.16)
With a National League-leading 194 strikeouts, Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg appears likely to eclipse his current career high of 197, set in 2012.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Nationals have won three straight games despite trailing in the eighth inning or later for just the second time in their 10 seasons representing The District. In 2006, from Aug. 21 – Sept. 3, the Nationals won four straight games while overcoming late (8th inning or later) deficits. Coincidentally, three of those four comeback wins in 2006 came during a three-game home sweep of the Diamondbacks, Sept. 2-3.

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

NATIONALS (70-53)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
6 Anthony Rendon 3B
28 Jayson Werth RF
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
3 Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 2B
59 Jose Lobaton (S) C
37 Stephen Strasburg RHP

Diamondbacks (53-72)

5 Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2 Aaron Hill 2B
6 David Peralta (L) RF
15 Mark Trumbo LF
26 Miguel Montero (L) C
31 Jordan Pacheco 1B
19 Jake Lamb (L) 3B
1 Didi Gregorious (L) SS
57 Chase Anderson RHP

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

Nationals Game Notes — Aug. 18 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

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Game No. 123: Washington Nationals (69-53) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (53-71) | 7:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 2.92 ERA) vs. LHP Vidal Nuno (0-3, 3.92)
Washington Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann entered this month with a 3.94 career ERA in August, but is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three August starts thus far this season.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • The Nationals swept both the Mets (3-0 at Citi Field) and Pirates (3-0 here in DC) last week, and in doing so, pieced together consecutive series sweeps for the first time since June 8-13, 2012 (3-0 at Boston, 3-0 at Toronto)

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

NATIONALS (69-53)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
6 Anthony Rendon 3B
28 Jayson Werth RF
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
40 Wilson Ramos C
3 Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 2B
27 Jordan Zimmermann RHP

Diamondbacks (53-71)

5 Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2 Aaron Hill 2B
6 David Peralta (L) RF
15 Mark Trumbo LF
26 Miguel Montero (L) C
31 Jordan Pacheco 1B
19 Jake Lamb (L) 3B
1 Didi Gregorious (L) SS
54 Vidal Nuno (L) LHP

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

Nationals Game Notes — Aug. 17 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Twitter: @Nationals | Facebook: Nationals | Instagram: @Nationals

Game No. 122: Washington Nationals (68-53) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-59) | 5:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: RHP Doug Fister (12-3, 2.34 ERA) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (10-7, 3.67)
Washington Nationals right-hander Doug Fister got the nod and earned the win with 7.0 scoreless innings in Washington’s lone victory (W5-2, May 25) during a four-game visit to PNC Park in late May.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN2
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • The Nationals enter tonight’s series finale with a chance to do something they’ve never done: take the season series from the Pirates in spite of losing the first three match-ups between the teams. In 10 seasons in Washington, the Nationals have never won a seven-game season series after dropping the first three games to an opponent. 

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

NATIONALS (68-53)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
3 Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 2B
6 Anthony Rendon 3B
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
40 Wilson Ramos C
18 Michael A. Taylor RF
58 Doug Fister (L) RHP

PIRATES (64-59)

25 Gregory Polanco (L) RF
5 Josh Harrison SS
18 Neil Walker (S) 2B
55 Russell Martin C
24 Pedro Alvarez (L) 3B
6 Starling Marte CF
23 Travis Snider (L) LF
15 Ike Davis (L) 1B
36 Edinson Volquez RHP

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

Nationals Game Notes — Aug. 16 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Twitter: @Nationals | Facebook: Nationals | Instagram: @Nationals

Game No. 121: Washington Nationals (67-53) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-58) | 7:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 4.00 ERA) vs. LHP Jeff Locke (4-3, 3.98)
Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates, and his clubs are a perfect 4-0 (3-0 as a National, 1-0 as an Athletic) in those games.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN and WUSA9
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • The Nationals lead the National League (3rd in the Major Leagues) in run differential at +90 (504 for, 414 against). MLB’s top four teams in run differential: Oakland Athletics (+163), Seattle Mariners (+94), Washington Nationals (+90), Los Angeles Angels (+87).

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

NATIONALS (67-53)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
19 Kevin Frandsen LF
6 Anthony Rendon 3B
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
40 Wilson Ramos C
8 Danny Espinosa 2B
47 Gio Gonzalez LHP

PIRATES (64-58)

5 Josh Harrison SS
25 Gregory Polanco (L) RF
55 Russell Martin C
6 Starling Marte CF
17 Gaby Sanchez 1B
24 Pedro Alvarez (L) 3B
27 Jayson Nix 2B
23 Travis Snider (L) LF
49 Jeff Locke LHP

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

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