Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

Rubber Game Lineups

Braves:

 LF Martin Prado

CF Nate McLouth

3B Chipper Jones

C Brian McCann

2B Dan Uggla

RF Jason Heyward

SS Alex Gonzalez

1B Freddie Freeman

P Tim Hudson

 Nationals:

 SS Ian Desmond

RF Jayson Werth

3B Ryan Zimmerman

1B Adam LaRoche

LF Michael Morse

CF Rick Ankiel

2B Danny Espinosa

C Ivan Rodriguez

P Jordan Zimmermann

 *In his one career outing against Atlanta, Jordan Zimmermann won, going five innings, allowing only one earned run with five strikeouts.

*Against the Nationals, Tim Hudson is 10-2 with an ERA of 1.91. However, Jayson Werth has proved to be a thorn in Hudson’s side—he’s got a batting average of .350 with a pair of doubles and a home run against the Braves’ hurler.

*Rick Ankiel, who was yesterday’s Nationals Player of the Game, has also fared well against Hudson, going three-for-six with an RBI in six plate appearances.

*Today is your last day to vote for the Fans’ Choice Bobblehead. As of this posting, Danny Espinosa is in the lead with 5616 votes, and Drew Storen in second with 4400 votes.

Game No. 2 Lineups

Lineups

Braves:

 LF Martin Prado

CF Nate McLouth

3B Chipper Jones

C Brian McCann

2B Dan Uggla

RF Jason Heyward

SS Alex Gonzalez

1B Freddie Freeman

P Tommy Hanson

 Nationals:

 SS Ian Desmond

RF Jayson Werth

3B Ryan Zimmerman

1B Adam LaRoche

LF Michael Morse

CF Rick Ankiel

2B Danny Espinosa

C Wilson Ramos

P John Lannan

 *The Nationals are looking to not only secure their first win of the season, but get closer to evening their franchise record against the Braves since baseball returned to DC in 2005. At home, the Nats are 31-24 against Atlanta over the last seven seasons, but 54-56 overall.

 *In his career against the Braves, Ryan Zimmerman has hit for a .278 average, mashing 25 doubles and 11 home runs with 53 RBI. Jayson Werth also doesn’t mind facing Atlanta—he’s maintained a .290 batting average with a .395 on-base percentage against the division rival.

 *Meanwhile, the Nationals will have a tough opponent on the mound in Tommy Hanson. He’s 2-1 against Washington with a 2.72 ERA. That being said, the Nats’ new bats will prove trouble for the Braves’ starter. Werth has maintained an OPS of .956 against Hanson, and Jerry Hairston Jr. has an on-base percentage of .571 against him.

 *Against the Braves, John Lannan is 5-4 with 36 strikeouts.

Tom Gorzelanny gets back on track

Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2011 Grapefruit League Season, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on at the Nats Spring Training home in Viera, Fla. Check back often for the latest updates.

 

Good afternoon, Nats Town.

 

It’s a quiet day at Space Coast Stadium, as the Nationals have traveled inland for a matinee tilt against the Astros in Kissimmee. I, personally, did not travel west for the big league game, instead hanging back to watch the three minor-league games being played at our complex.

 

I love every opportunity I get to watch the minor-league games and see the young prospects we have in our system. Mike Rizzo and his crew have done a terrific job of stocking the system with talented, young players, and the future is bright. There are a lot of names you may not have heard of yet (Eury Perez, Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, etc), but you’ll know them soon enough. Trust me.

 

A few things I wanted to touch on…

* It was great catching up with Tim Kurkjian and John Kruk yesterday, as ESPN’s Baseball Tonight bus stopped at Space Coast Stadium to feature the Nationals. For those of you who didn’t catch Baseball Tonight yesterday, Tim and John did a great job assessing our club, even taking the opportunity to sit down with Jayson Werth and Stephen Strasburg as part of their tour stop.

 

I had an opportunity to check out the bus. What an impressive vehicle. Although, here’s some insight: they aren’t really traveling around Florida and Arizona on the bus. It’s pretty much just a mobile studio. They have been sleeping in hotels and following the bus in a more-traditional vehicle. Not exactly roughing it.

 


Tom Gorzelanny 1.JPG* Last night’s game… despite the loss, there were a lot of bright spots in yesterday’s game vs. the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Tom Gorzelanny, acquired from the Cubs this offseason for a trio of minor leaguers, twirled 4.0 solid innings and held the Mets to just a run. Keep an eye on Tom. He was slow out of the gate this spring, hampered by the flu, but could be a key arm in our rotation this year.

 

Another bright spot yesterday, and really all spring, has been right-hander Brian Broderick. We acquired Brian from the Cardinals via the Rule 5 Draft in December, and he has posted an impressive 1.04 ERA in 5 appearances. What’s most impressive about Brian is his presence and demeanor. At 6-foot-6, he is as cool as a cucumber on the mound. 

 

* Monday night, I played in the players’ par-3 golf tournament at the Duran Golf Club (about a mile down the street from Space Coast Stadium).  Had a great time, and even won the ‘closest to the pin’ competition. My foursome (with Cole Kimball, Chad Gaudin and Matt Eiden – one of our strength and conditioning guys) finished 5th of 6. Congrats to the winning team of Rick Eckstein, Davey Johnson, Pudge Rodriguez and Scotty Paquin (assistant equipment manager for our minor-league operations).

 

Since I won’t be blogging tomorrow, I want to take this opportunity to wish everybody a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s hope we have the luck of the Irish on our side when we battle the Braves in Orlando.

 

And, remember, just 15 days until Opening Day at Nationals Park.

The Buck Commander: Adam LaRoche

It takes a special breed to love bow hunting–the sport where you spend 99 percent of the time questioning why you are uncomfortably sitting in a tree stand just to see a deer–but Adam LaRoche is the right person for the job. He is very even-keeled and rarely shows any emotions, traits that are imperative to watching paint dry and hunting, two things that seem synonymous at times. He speaks slowly with a southern drawl and a monotone voice–as if he was giving a lecture on quantum chemistry. He just doesn’t like talking about himself or his accomplishments on the baseball field–the numbers speak for themselves. That being said, he sure lights up the room when he talks about Buck Commander, the company he co-owns with a few talented baseball players: Chipper Jones, Ryan Langerhans, Tom Martin, Matt Duff and Duck Commander’s Willie Robertson.

 “It is our hobby,” LaRoche said, “but it is also a pretty serious passion.”


Adam LaRoche deer tattoo.JPGSerious enough that LaRoche made sure the rest of the Buck Commander team was as committed as he is. He persuaded the group–cameraman included–to get the brand logo tattooed somewhere on their body while they were all in Las Vegas together… proof what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

It is tough to determine if Adam LaRoche is a hunter who plays baseball or a baseball player that hunts. He does both equally well and partakes in one almost as often as the other. He has been plying his passion since he was a little kid but the wheels didn’t get turning on the Buck Commander until 2004.

LaRoche lost his lucky Duck Commander hat, nothing about that actual hat made it lucky but he needed a replacement. He couldn’t find the hat online so he called the one business number they listed on the Duck Commander web site. He envisioned he would be calling some immaculate headquarters with gold phones and airline-long wait times. Well, he didn’t quite envision the gold phones, but he expected a secretary to answer the phone.

“They are the world famous Duckmen,” he said.

Much to his surprise, he was greeted by Jase Robertson, one of the Duckmen. The number was Jase’s house number. Any business number that is the house number tells you one of two things: a) the business isn’t doing well or b) their No. 1 goal is customer service. Let’s just assume they love their customers.

“I told him I played baseball for the Atlanta Braves,” said LaRoche, retelling the story. “He was like, ‘Yeah, I am sure you do. I have never heard of Adam LaRoche.’ I was a rookie then. He said they didn’t make the hat anymore but thought he had one in his closest.”

Sure enough, Jase sent LaRoche one of his used, dirty hats with sweat stains and hair still attached.  What started with a lost hat, quickly turned into a friendship that led to an idea and finally a TV show on the Outdoor Channel.

“Wow, that was seven years ago. Now we are making a show, DVDs and a few pretty cool products.”

And they are shooting some pretty big deer, the type of deer that would be the wrestling hybrid of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.


The Buck Commander Team.jpg“We want to get across the point that we hunt some really good farms,” LaRoche said. So they aren’t tied up or slipped a little HGH?

“People have no idea,” he said. “The days that go by without seeing deer… There aren’t enough minutes to show every miserable hunt so you end up seeing the good ones.” Thank you for sparing us the monotony of hunting.

Tyler Clippard often talks about the similarities between golf and baseball–it turns out that baseball can be used as a metaphor for just about anything in life as long it requires patience, endurance and a little bit of adversity. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Adam LaRoche sees a few similarities between bow hunting and baseball.

“I think it is all about being competitive,” LaRoche said who spends the majority of his offseason bow hunting–one of the more arduous and time consuming styles of hunting. “It is a very passionate, grueling and relentless sport. You can go out for a month straight and never draw the bow back. You have to have it in you. It is the same in baseball when you play seven days a week–if there isn’t something driving you deep down, then you aren’t going to make it. We come across guys all the time in the Minors that have all the talent in the world but they don’t want it bad enough. It is the same thing in hunting… it can be a real pain sometimes.”

Yogi Berra is known for his Yogisms and in the 2006 Aflac commercial he says, “If you don’t have it, that’s why you need it.” If you haven’t seen the Buck Commander, that’s why you need to. If you like baseball, you’ll like the show. If you like deer hunting, you’ll love it. If you like deer–especially trophy bucks–you will salivate like Pavlov’s dog during it. If you don’t like any of those three things… why are you reading this blog?

Connect Four

The Nats won’t make it to the playoffs but they could alter the playoff picture this weekend. The Braves were just swept by the Phillies–essentially eliminating their chances to win the division but they do hold a half game lead on the Padres in the Wild Card race. The Nats are winners of three straight and will gun for their fourth consecutive victory in the series opener. This season, the Nationals have won three games in a row on eight occasions, including three times since the All-Star break. But it is interesting to note that in subsequent contests with a four-game winning streak on the line, Washington is 0-7 this season.

 * Tonight’s matchup features two starting pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery within the past two seasons in Tim Hudson, who underwent the knife in mid-2008, and Jordan Zimmermann, who will log his sixth start since his return from the procedure tonight.

 * In his final nine games as a Major League manager, Bobby Cox is just one win away from 2,500 managerial victories.

 * Despite missing power hitters three and four (Dunn and Zimmerman) in the lineup due to injury last night, the Nationals blasted three long balls (Morse, Espinosa, Bernadina) and possible played their best defensive game all season en route to a 7-2 victory and the series win over the Astros. Morse also hit the game-winning double and is batting .366 (30-for-82) with eight doubles, one triple, four homers and 14 RBI in his last 24 games.

 * The Royals are the only other club who have not won as many as four straight in 2010.

 

Braves (86-67):

1.    Omar Infante – 2B

2.    Jason Heyward – RF

3.    Martin Prado – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Derrek Lee – 1B

6.    Nate McLouth – CF

7.    Alex Gonzalez – SS

8.    Matt Diaz – LF

9.    Tim Hudson – SP (16-8, 2.61 ERA)

Nationals (65-88):

1.      Danny Espinosa – 2B

2.      Roger Bernadina – CF

3.      Ian Desmond – SS

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Michael Morse – RF

6.      Willie Harris – LF  

7.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

8.      Alberto Gonzalez – 3B

9.      Jordan Zimmermann – SP (0-2, 6.75 ERA)

Goodbye Atlanta

It’s then down to the clubhouse one last time. Whatever your musical tastes, if post-game music greets you as you enter the clubhouse, it means it was a good day. The assembled media crowds around John Lannan, Sean Burnett and Justin Maxwell’s lockers. As luck would have it, all three are in close proximity to one another in the corner closest to the exit, so the additional traffic makes it challenging to get around. Add to that the getaway day chaos of clubhouse staff trying to haul bags and boxes out to the busses, and well, you’d better keep your head on a swivel.

 

The best quote we heard, and we’re summarizing here, came from Justin when a reporter asked him about playing the role of spoiler, and if the Nats can build off this series going into another similar situation in Philadelphia. Without blinking, Maxwell replied that the Nationals don’t want to consider themselves as spoilers because they are trying to be in a position to fight for a playoff spot themselves next year. It was as if he and his teammates don’t want to get comfortable in the spoiler role–they want to constantly be improving and building so that they’re the ones chasing a division title. Pretty good stuff from the local Maryland product–it sounds like he and his teammates certainly have the right approach to the final three weeks of the season.

 

The media then thins out and the players finish packing up their lockers. They exchange well wishes and high fives with the Atlanta clubhouse staff – with three visits a year, it’s clear that they develop a strong appreciation for the hard work of these guys in making their life on the road so much easier.

 

And with that, it’s out to the buses and off to the airport, which is our cue to put a bow on our roadtrip blog. We hope you’ve enjoyed the temporary departure from the content you’ve grown accustomed to in this space. We’ve had a blast sharing some of the team’s fun stories, and bringing you closer to the people and personalities that bring the games to life. A special thanks to Manager Jim Riggleman, his staff and the players for letting us tag along, as well as the TV and radio teams who do such an incredible job in front of the camera and behind the mic.

All is well with Maxwell

The game itself saw Justin Maxwell hit his third career grand slam in the second inning, before the Nationals held off a Braves comeback. Atlanta had opportunities throughout the game, but John Lannan scattered eight hits through six innings, and the bullpen trio of Joel Peralta, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen combined for three scoreless innings of relief in a 4-2 Nats victory.

 

Most importantly, the Nats earned their second straight road series win, and improved their record to 8-7 vs. Atlanta this season.

 

While there were many similarities between our time spent with Dave and Charlie in the radio broadcast booth, there were also a handful of stark differences. The most obvious being the huge camera in the back of the booth–it is TV after all. More subtly though, the TV announcers don’t rotate innings so they can’t really take a bathroom break during the game. We tried to get the authentic experience, but couldn’t quite hold out during the seventh inning.

 

This also means the TV broadcasters can’t get up to get a snack or a drink during the game. Bob had the foresight to grab a box of Trix cereal–no, they’re not just for kids–and a bagel. Ray just made fun of Bob’s choices but opted for no snack. We’re guessing that by the middle of the game, Ray was secretly jealous of his partner’s snacks, but by that point, he was out of luck.

 

Once Bob makes the call on Drew Storen’s strikeout to end the game, he quickly draws the game broadcast to a close. During the ensuing commercial break, he and Ray get ready for their final exchange with Johnny Holiday on the post-game show. It’s a quick back and forth recapping the Braves series clincher before looking ahead to another tough matchup vs. the Phillies.

Nats seek series victory

Well it’s getaway day here in Atlanta, and with a 12:10 p.m. first pitch today against the Braves, it’s an earlier-than-usual start for the team and staff. Players’ luggage starts to arrive in the lobby by 7 a.m., and Wally is at it again, checking names off of his list and tagging bags before loading them onto the moving truck.

 

The players and coaches themselves start to trickle down to catch the team bus around 9 a.m., and we’re off to the park by 9:30 a.m.

 

We hit a bit more traffic than we have for either of the previous night games, and with the delay, the big debate from the night before–the length of Adam Dunn’s homerun–becomes a hot topic once again.

 

Now there’s more than just bragging rights on the line for Dunn. Callaway is rewarding any professional baseball player who hits a home run over 470 feet with a full set of Diablo Edge clubs. Most of the broadcasters are sure Dunn’s moon ball eclipsed that elusive threshold, but as of this morning, no official word. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear but according to ESPN it went 479 feet.

 

With the earlier game, it’s pretty much straight to the press box once we get to the park. MASN TV broadcasters Bob Carpenter and Ray Knight are busy scribbling some final pregame notes, reviewing the starting lineups and making sure everything is in order. Bob comments that they have their routine pretty much down to a science at this point.

 


TV booth with Bob Carpenter.JPGBob does a few reads that will be used as part of the pregame show. He and Ray won’t actually be live on-air until moments before first pitch. When the broadcast starts, what you see are actually pre-recorded lead-ins. That’s right…when you’re at home just tuning in to the game, Bob and Ray are relaxing with their pregame meal in the press dining room.

Speaking of food, on the final day of our roadtrip, we’re eager to follow Bob to his Chick-fil-A stand. Much to our chagrin however, the game is so early that the stand at the bottom of the press box stairs isn’t even open yet. Dejectedly, we slump back up the stairs…looks like it’s breakfast for lunch today–scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and some cinnamon buns. It Could be worse.

Stopping the six-game Skid

With pregame warm-ups in the books–Coach leads the pitchers through their routine first, then the position players–we head upstairs for dinner in the press box. Tonight our plate consists of lasagna, canned veggies, grilled redskin potatoes and mini corndogs. Hey, we’d be doing our loyal readers a disservice if we didn’t try a little of everything, and really, how can you pass up corndogs anyway!? Lastly, the Braves lemonade and sweet tea combine for an amazing Arnold Palmer. How cool would it be to have a drink named after you?

 

The early going is highlighted by Adam Dunn’s mammoth two-run homer in the top of the second. Between innings, we make our way back to the clubhouse to meet up with the Coordinator of Advanced Scouting and Video, Erick Dalton. This guy, with the help of Michael Mazur, compiles countless hours of video on upcoming Nationals opponents. He then combines it with written scouting reports to detail everything from pitcher tendencies to hitter’s strengths and weaknesses, and every trend imaginable in between. With the Nationals leading 3-0, we take a seat next to Erick as he runs through his game day routine, complete with three to four computer monitors, diagrammed printouts and a handful of other resources to help him ensure the Nats are as prepared as possible for their upcoming opponents. He’s already compiled the scouting reports for the Nats next series against the Phillies–he says it’s all about staying at least one series ahead.

 

Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein comes back to the clubhouse between innings to review some tape of recent at-bats to see what’s been effective thus far for Atlanta’s starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens. Whatever it was Erick had queued up for Rick, he was able to immediately reap the benefits for the Nationals hitters, as Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez took Jurrjens deep in the top of the fourth inning, extending the lead to 4-0. Just how critical was the intel that Erick provided? Consider:

 

Ramon Ortiz was the last Nats pitcher to hit a home run and that was on September 4, 2006 at RFK Stadium. In the time between the homers by Ortiz (9/4/06) and Hernandez (9/14/10): 47 different MLB pitchers homered a total of 95 times, Ivan Rodriguez gunned down 82 would be basestealers while wearing five different uniforms, Joey Chestnut consumed a combined 247 hot dogs en route to winning four straight Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contests, and let’s not forget Pluto lost its “planet” classification in the Solar System.

 

The Nationals would tack on two more insurance runs courtesy of a Roger Bernadina RBI single and an Ian Desmond solo HR–let’s add an assist from Erick and Coach Eckstein for good measure–while Livo went eight strong innings and the good guys prevailed, 6-0, evening the series at a game apiece.

 

Spirits were certainly higher in the post-game clubhouse and on the bus ride back to the hotel. Let’s hope we keep the momentum going tomorrow as we wrap up the series and this roadtrip blog. We’ll be visiting with MASN broadcasters Bob Carpenter and Ray Knight, and maybe a few other surprises as well. Stay tuned…

Philbin’s Workout

When we get to the park, John quickly changes into his workout gear and heads to the warning track. He starts with 10 “Poles” sprints from one foul pole to the other along the outfield wall–followed by a recovery jog down the foul lines and behind home plate to complete the lap around the warning track.

 

From there, it’s time for some sprint work up the stairs in section 120 next to the Nationals dugout. That’s 10 sprints at about 25 seconds each. Miraculously, John gets through all 10 in impressive time, with nary a threat of revisiting this morning’s breakfast. Meanwhile, we’re only watching and our legs are getting a bit gelatinous. That’s right, we’re merely spectators today… credit to Dave Jageler–his CrossFit program from yesterday still has us licking our wounds.

 

After sprints, it’s a rapid-fire core session on the outfield grass behind shortstop. Despite some pretty heavy breathing, John completes the workout following a series of side crunches. He lets out one of his signature “Wooooo’s” as if to exclaim, “Now I’m done.” And with that, it’s back inside to the AC of the clubhouse and visitor’s weight room. It is still five hours before tonight’s game but there are already a number of players here getting in some early work: lifting, film study, etc.

 

In the visitors gym, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Yunesky Maya come in to workout. Ian wants to know why we’re there, what we’re documenting, etc. We explain that it’s all about giving fans a little taste of life on the road and what’s it’s like day-to-day as a Big Leaguer.

 

After a couple minutes on the stationary bike to warm up, Coach starts him on an ab workout, throwing a large medicine ball back and forth with the young shortstop. Danny takes a very workmanlike approach to his routine, moving from one station to the next. Coach explains to us that during the season, it’s all about maintaining each player’s strength and explosiveness, so these daily workout sessions are quick, yet challenging. After 20 minutes, Ian and Danny are gone, back to the clubhouse and John can now focus on last night’s starter.

 

Coach takes a more hands on approach with the Cuban right-hander. First of all, he’s relatively new to the team and the workout program. Secondly, to help bridge the language barrier, Coach takes some extra time to demonstrate each of the exercises so Yunesky sees the proper form and technique.

The high five is universal in just about every language, and after 20 or so minutes of upper body work, the two exchange the celebratory gesture, and their mutual sense of accomplishment is understood.

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