Results tagged ‘ Chad Tracy ’

Dream One, Accomplished

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On Wednesday morning, a vision seven years in the making finally came to fruition.

From the very beginning, the Lerner Family envisioned that the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation would be a way for people to channel their passion for the game of baseball into making a difference in the community.  Similar to their plan to build the team on the field, the Lerner’s were committed to building something meaningful with long-term value off the field as well.

Dr. Cogen takes the reins as Director of the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex.

Dr. Cogen takes the reins as Director of the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex.

The first ambitious project stemmed from a conversation between Dr. Fran Cogen and Dream Foundation Chair and Nationals Principal Owner Marla Lerner Tanenbaum. It focused on bringing a world class, state-of-the-art diabetes treatment and research center to the District. What began with a passionate exchange of ideas seven years ago became a reality when the Nationals and Children’s National Medical Center cut the ribbon on the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex.

Tanenbaum conveyed just how much the project meant to her family, the team and the Dream Foundation in her speech on Wednesday:

“The Dream Foundation was originally created to develop and support programs that could positively change the lives of people in our community…The Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex is an example of baseball bringing out the best in people and I can’t begin to express how excited we are to be here today.”

In addition to the team’s principal owners and several front office executives, Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations & General Manager Mike Rizzo as well as Nationals players Ross Detwiler, Gio Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Mattheus, Stephen Strasburg and Chad Tracy were all on hand to commemorate the occasion, which also included a special appearance from Screech.

As Dr. Cogen said in her address to the standing room-only crowd on hand for the event, “Visions can be helpful, but without people to support you, they remain visions.” Thanks to the help of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, she had the support she needed to make an idea become reality. On Wednesday Dr. Cogen was officially named Director of the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex.

“It’s surreal,” she said after soaking in the moment. “It’s like taking a vision in your head, thinking this is what one would want to do, and actually seeing it come true before your eyes.”

The Nationals and Children's National Medical Center cut the ribbon on the new complex.

The Nationals and Children’s National Medical Center cut the ribbon on the new complex.

Tanenbaum shares Dr. Cogen’s passion for this project, and used her own term to describe its completion.

“To use the word in our foundation, it’s a dream,” she said. “It’s a dream come true.”

The complex provides a place where children can go for treatment and education about diabetes, but its mission is more than that. It also includes a family reception area, resource and media center, as well as a playroom for young patients and their siblings. The design, with soft lighting and colors, gives the facility a feel more akin to an after-school center than a hospital wing. It even includes a galley kitchen and exercise room to help emphasize nutritional education and physical education, two key components in fighting diabetes.

“I come to work every day hoping that I can do some good,” said Cogen, who believes this facility allows her team the opportunity to take their care to an unprecedented level. “Putting our own diabetes team together with multiple specialists can deliver a win.”

Opening the doors Wednesday provided the first of hopefully many victories. As the Dream Foundation broadens its focus to its other major projects, like the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Ward 7, the completion of the Diabetes Care Complex marks an important milestone in the history of the charitable arm of the organization.

“It’s remarkable to see the kids walk through the door,” said Tanenbaum, when reflecting on the mission of the center to help find a cure for the disease. “Hopefully, though, one day, they won’t have to use it at all.”

Until then, the doors will be open at the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex for the children of the Capital Region.

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What to Watch for: 5.18.13

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Washington Nationals (23-19) vs. San Diego Padres (18-23)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-1, 1.69) vs. LHP Eric Stults (3-3, 4.57)

The Nationals can guarantee a series win as they send Jordan Zimmermann to the hill in search of his league-high eighth victory. Washington has won eight of its last 10 against the Padres, including season-series wins in both 2011 and 2012.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore RF

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

ADAM BOMBS

Adam LaRoche has homered in three consecutive contests, pocketing a total of four home runs during that stretch. With a homer tonight, LaRoche would match his career high with a four-game homer streak, accomplished when he hit five over straight games from September 3-6 vs. the Chicago Cubs last season.

START ME UP

Washington’s starting pitchers have rolled off a string of eight consecutive starts yielding two or fewer earned runs. The rotation has posted a 1.94 ERA (11 ER/51.0 IP) and 3.0/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (33 K/11 BB) during that stretch. For the season, Nationals starting pitchers rank second in the NL/MLB with a 3.13 ERA (90 ER/258.2 IP).

GOON SQUAD IS HEATING UP

Washington’s bench, affectionately know as the “Goon Squad,” has gone a combined 3-for-7 in the last three contests. Chad Tracy’s game-winning homer in the 10th inning on Friday marked both the first pinch-home run and pinch-RBI for the Nationals this season.

Father of the Goon Squad

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After making the Nationals as a non-roster invitee in 2012, Chad Tracy took no time at all to make his presence felt. On April 7 in Chicago, he came in with the bases loaded, one out, and the Nats down a run in the top of the eighth, and promptly doubled home a pair to lead the club to victory. Thus began the Goon Squad, Washington’s fearsome and versatile bench, with its leader, the veteran Tracy.

Just as he did early in 2012, Tracy provided the Goon Squad’s biggest moment to date on Friday night. After the Nationals surrendered a two-run lead in the ninth inning in San Diego, the tide seemed to have turned against them. But with two outs in the top of the 10th, Tracy turned on a hanging, 1-1 change-up out of the right hand of Huston Street, depositing it over the right field wall at Petco Park for a go-ahead home run to put the Nationals back ahead for good, 6-5.

An increasingly productive bench could be a sign of good things to come for the Nationals.

An increasingly productive bench could be a sign of good things to come for the Nationals.

“He’s a really good hitter,” said Davey Johnson of Tracy. “Last year he started fast, this year he started slow. But (the home run) makes up for anything he’s done in the past.”

There is something about being at the right place at the right time that often defines success for a bench player like Tracy. But Friday night’s heroics were the continuation of a stunning trend, one which indicates the Padres are always the right opponent for the leader of the Goon Squad. With his blast off Street, each of Tracy’s last three pinch-homers have now come against the Padres. And of the seven he has hit in his career, five have come against San Diego.

Other Nationals like Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman have both hit well against the Padres in their careers as well, each notching double-digit home run totals. But both track records pale in comparison to Tracy’s.

Meanwhile, Drew Storen survived a Padres rally in the bottom of the frame to notch his first save of the season, and the Cardiac Nats won the kind of gut-wrenching game on which they built their reputation last season. After a couple of close calls in low-scoring games in Los Angeles, the breakthrough may have meant just one win, but it may also have opened the door for a return of the Cardiac Nats, the team that went 27-21 in one-run games and 13-7 in a league-high 20 extra-inning affairs in 2012. This year’s club (7-3, 2-1) hasn’t seen nearly as many of the same opportunities, but a strong showing from the Goon Squad may change that in a hurry.

Highlights: 5.17.13

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5.17.13 – Nationals 6, Padres 5 (10 innings)

Stat of the Game: Chad Tracy launched his first home run of the season, a pinch-blast in the 10th to lift Washington to a 6-5 victory. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Adam LaRoche‘s second two-homer game of the season and 21st of his career extended his hit streak to a career-best 14 games.

It Was Over When: Drew Storen stranded the tying run at third and winning run at first in the bottom of the 10th to lock down his first save of the year.

Highlights: 4.29.13

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4.29.13 – Braves 3, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Washington collected four consecutive singles to score twice in the second inning, but could not add on in the frame and did not score the rest of the way.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Chad Tracy had two hits and an RBI in a spot start at third base.

It Was Over When: The Nationals could not capitalize on a chance to take the lead in the sixth, and Atlanta pushed ahead on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh.

Highlights: 4.19.13

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4.19.13 – Mets 7, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey allowed a single run over seven innings of work to win his fourth straight start to open the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Filling in for Ryan Zimmerman at third base, Chad Tracy drove home the team’s lone RBI.

It Was Over When: After Washington scored once and loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh to cut the margin to 4-1, the Nationals were unable to score again and close the gap.

Old School Meets New School

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Earlier today, Chad Tracy – the leader of the Goon Squad – made it official and joined the Twitterverse (follow him @catracy18). He joins an ever-growing number of Nationals players now active on the platform. And just like Denard Span did in Spring Training, and Ryan Mattheus did last season, Tracy is asking for your help to design his profile.

Check out the headshots (we’re partial to the Jedi, hooded look, but hey, it’s up to you) and backgrounds below and make sure to cast your vote for each one. There’s no limit on how many times you can choose, so vote early and often! We’ll tally up all the totals on Friday and Chad will update his profile before the Nats take on the Mets in their next series.

Profile Avatar – Option 1

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Avatar – Option 2

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Avatar – Option 3

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Background – Option 1

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Background – Option 2

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Background – Option 3

NATSST_02152013_DM

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Excitement in the Air

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Hello everyone.

If you are reading this blog, chances are that I don’t have to remind you that Opening Day is less than a week away. I’m pumped up for the season to get started, and I know all of you Nats fans are also. During my nearly month-long stay in Viera, I spoke with hundreds of our fans. The common theme down there was unbridled enthusiasm.

Now I am back here in D.C. and the messaging is identical.

Is this is the most anticipated season in D.C. sports history? While this is not for me to say, I have to think it is at the very least on a short list.

  • Friday’s 2:05 p.m. exhibition game against the New York Yankees at Nationals Park will feature a Jordan Zimmermann-Andy Pettitte pitching matchup. And here’s hoping that future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter’s ankle allows him to play, not only Friday, but all season.
  • Interesting to hear that Davey plans to really split time behind the plate between Wilson Ramos and Kurt Suzuki. Both are wildly popular in the clubhouse and among the pitching staffs. I think Davey’s direction here tells us that he is quite confident in Wilson’s knee and overall fitness.
  • Tyler Moore, Chad Tracy, Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina represent perhaps the finest bench in MLB. I know that Davey views all four as talents capable of starting. And this does not include the backup catcher, Ramos or Suzuki.
  • If you have not picked up on this yet, … Micah Owings can really HIT. I really enjoyed getting to know Micah during spring training.
  • Gazing at the schedule, it is still strange to see that we’ll be hosting the Chicago White Sox for three games from April 9-11. I keep reminding myself that this new day and age of interleague play will take some getting used to. It will also be fun to see the Detroit Tigers visit D.C. for a two-game set, May 7-8.
  • More than a few fans mentioned they are pumped to see William Howard Taft (Bill) and Teddy interact. This historically fiery relationship is one to keep an eye on all summer. I understand there has been a lot of trash talking already between the two already. Best of luck to Bill on his upcoming racing debut.
  • I’d be remiss if I did not thank and wish Kristina Akra, formerly of MASN, all the best on her new career path. For those that do not know, Kristina recently accepted a new job with the MLB Network. She will thrive there, but at the same time, her warm smile and enthusiasm will be missed here with the ballclub.
  • Sports Illustrated, one of the preeminent publications in our industry, came out today with their prediction of the Nationals as World Series favorites. While I’m thrilled about their optimism, as well as that of all others (like ESPN The Magazine) who have tabbed us to be successful this year, I know there is much work to be done before we get to any of that. So I’ll just echo Davey’s remarks today: “It’s better than being picked to come in last!”

See you all on Friday…

Game On

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Believe it or not, Spring Training games begin tomorrow.

That’s right, in less than 24 hours, the Nationals will begin their Grapefruit League season with a 12:10 p.m. start at Digital Domain Park, the spring home of the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. And the man slated to start that game on the mound for the Nationals? None other than Stephen Strasburg.

The lineup for hte first Spring Training game, Saturday in Port St. Lucie.

The lineup for hte first Spring Training game, Saturday in Port St. Lucie.

“It’s been a good spring so far, and I’m ready to play games,” said Davey Johnson from his office Friday. “I think they are too.”

The Mets will piggyback new acquisition Shaun Marcum and promising prospect Zack Wheeler (rated eighth overall by MLB.com and 11th by Baseball America), looking to break camp with the team for the first time. The game will be televised nationally on MLB Network, the first game of the spring to get the royal treatment.

As is the usual custom for road games in Spring Training, especially early in camp, when the Major League-side clubhouse is still crowded, there will be few regular position players making the trek south to Port St. Lucie. The only projected members of the Opening Day lineup (other than Strasburg, possibly) slated for the trip are Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper and Denard Span, who will be joined by Goon Squaders Steve Lombardozzi and Chad Tracy.

That will give minor leaguers like Anthony Rendon, Matt Skole and Zach Walters a chance to shine in the spotlight. Catchers Sandy Leon, Carlos Maldonado, Chris Snyder and Jhonatan Solano, infielders Chris Marrero, Micah Owings, Will Rhymes, and Carlos Rivero, and outfielders Corey Brown and Eury Perez will also make the trip.

The pitchers in the fold behind Strasburg include Craig Stammen, 40-man roster members Cole Kimball and Erik Davis, and NRI’s Fernando Abad, Bill Bray and Pat McCoy. Stay tuned to the Nationals on Twitter for updates live from Florida throughout day.

The Late Additions

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While this year’s Washington roster seems mostly set, it is important not to underestimate the potential impact of Non-Roster Invitees on the structure of the club that will break camp at the end of March. Sandy Leon, Carlos Maldonado, Rick Ankiel, Corey Brown and Brett Carroll all played small roles for the Nationals in 2012, and Chad Tracy – yes that Chad Tracy – was himself an NRI last year. Tracy staked his claim as one of the best pinch-hitters in the game and earned a contract extension for 2013 near the end of last season.

The Nationals announced three more additions to their list of Major League Spring Training Non-Roster Invitees this week, adding Jeremy Accardo, Micah Owings and Chris Snyder. All three have interesting storylines or ties to the organization, but perhaps none is more compelling than that of Owings, who came to terms with Washington on Wednesday.

Owings has always been known for his bat, and will report to Viera as a position player.

Owings has always been known for his bat, and will report to Viera as a position player.

For those unfamiliar with his Major League exploits, Owings is most well known as one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball over the past six seasons. While his career ledger on the mound is 32-33 with a 4.86 ERA in 138 appearances (68 starts), he has batted .283 (58-for-205) with an eye-popping .503 slugging percentage. To put that in perspective, only Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore (and Jhonatan Solano, in limited time) posted a higher slugging mark for the Nats last season than Owings’ career line.

His first season was his best, as he posted a .333/.349/.683 line to win the National League’s Silver Slugger Award in 2007, the same hardware Stephen Strasburg laid claim to last year. However, the 30-year-old Owings has shown enough continued promise at the plate that he will now attempt the same transformation as former National Rick Ankiel, moving from the mound to become a hitter.

“He’s worn all of the opposing clubs out at one point or another,” said Nationals Assistant General Manager Bryan Minniti of Owings. “So if you’ve seen the guy swing the bat the last couple of years, you’re intrigued. He’s a decent athlete as well.”

As you may remember, Ankiel had a pair of very strong seasons in his first two years after making the switch, hitting 36 home runs and driving in 110 over 167 games, posting a very comparable line to that of Owings, batting .270 with a .515 slugging percentage. Like Ankiel in 2007, Owings plans to focus entirely on his future as a hitter from here on out.

“We’re going to give him a go as a position player and see what happens,” explained Minniti. “We’re committed to it. He’s committed to it. We’ve got a couple of people here who know him from the past, including our hitting coordinator Rick Schu.”

Snyder, another former Diamondback, has experience catching Dan Haren.

Snyder, another former Diamondback, has experience catching Dan Haren.

Of course, just as he knows Chad Tracy (another player he drafted with Arizona) going into last year, Nationals EVP of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo is very familiar with Owings. He was in charge of the Diamondbacks’ drafts when Arizona selected the Gainesville, Georgia native in the third round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Likewise, Rizzo was at the helm of the draft when his former organization selected Snyder back in 2002, the catcher the Nationals acquired earlier this week.

Snyder brings veteran depth with a decent eye (with a career on-base percentage 104 points above his batting average) and a little pop (hitting double digit home runs three times) to the Washington catching corps. The former Diamondback, Pirate and Astro provides a little extra insurance behind the plate as Wilson Ramos completes his rehab process heading into Spring Training.

“We like to go to camp with the proper amount of catching, and we felt like we wanted to add one more,” said Minniti of the Snyder addition. “We’ve got a couple of young guys that are very capable, but it just gives us a little more flexibility, having a good veteran to compete.”

A right-handed reliever, Accardo is the only one of the late additions who hasn’t played previously under Rizzo. However, he provides the Nationals with an interesting statistical note, as the fourth pitcher entering camp with a season of at least 30 saves under his belt in his career. While the former Blue Jay and Giant accomplished that feat back in 2007, he nevertheless merits inclusion with Tyler Clippard, Rafael Soriano and Drew Storen as the only such foursome reporting to a Major League camp this year.

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