Results tagged ‘ Craig Stammen ’

Nationals and Harris Teeter host annual food drive

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by Matt Laux

harristeeter01The Washington Nationals and Harris Teeter teamed up to host their annual Food Drive at Nationals Park on Aug. 2 and 3, benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB). Over the two-day span, the Food Drive collected a record total of 8,331 lbs. of food for the CAFB, which assists roughly 500,000 children, seniors and families struggling with hunger in the Washington metro area each year.

The first day of the Food Drive began extra early as the team accepted donations prior to the Nationals Season Plan Holder Event. As volunteers opened for business, they eagerly anticipated the possibility of surpassing last year’s 3,854-pound first-day total. The exceptional turnout aided in the 4,879 pounds donated. The event’s success continued on Day Two, as the Nationals and Harris Teeter received another 3,452 pounds in donations.

Fans who contributed three or more non-perishable food items earned two tickets to one of two future Nationals games, while supplies lasted. Additionally, the first 1,000 fans to donate three or more Harris Teeter Private Label canned goods each day of the drive were rewarded with $5 in Nats Bucks.

The campaign began in earnest on July 8, when relief pitchers Jerry Blevins and Craig Stammen worked with the Jubilee Housing Teen Renaissance at CAFB’s Kid’s Cafe. Blevins, Stammen and the children made “1-2-3 Salsa,” a healthy, budget-friendly snack, while raising awareness for the August Food Drive.

harristeeter02The annual Food Drive is just one of the many contributions Harris Teeter makes to the local community.

On top of the Food Drive, fans were able to donate at their local Harris Teeter stores. While this year’s total is still being counted, Harris Teeter raised an additional 2,145 pounds last year. Harris Teeter is also a proud supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project, as well as the Together In Education program.

Craig Stammen, College Graduate

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by Amanda Comak

PHILADELPHIA — There may be a moment on Sunday afternoon when the bullpen phone rings and Craig Stammen’s name is called. He’ll rise from his seat in right center field at Citizens Bank Park and begin warming. His focus will be on only one thing: getting the Philadelphia Phillies’ batters out.

050412-321 craig stammenBut roughly 550 miles west, a chapter in his life will come to a close and a lifelong goal of the Washington Nationals’ right-hander’s will be reached.

Stammen, 30, has completed his coursework at the University of Dayton and his class will walk in their graduation on Sunday. While Stammen won’t be there in person to don a cap and gown, he will join an elite fraternity of Major League Baseball players who possess a college degree from a four-year university.

“I am relieved that it’s over and that I don’t  have to do anymore tests or homework,” Stammen said Saturday, cracking an earnest smile.

“And when somebody asks me if I’ve finished college I can say, ‘Yes.’ I won’t have to explain to them why I haven’t finished, what more I have to do and all that. I can say, ‘Yes.'”

A 2005 selection of the Nationals’ in the First-Year Player Draft, Stammen left college after his junior year at Dayton, with 15 credits remaining, to pursue his baseball career. But finishing his degree in Entrepreneurship was something the right-hander always hoped to do.  He began working toward that goal this past offseason, taking classes in person, and finished his coursework online once Spring Training began in February.

“It was a lot of work,” Stammen said. “A lot more work during the season than I thought it was going to be. I just didn’t realize how much I don’t like doing anything during the season other than baseball, so it was kind of hard to stay connected to the class and stay motivated, but I got through it.”

On a normal week, Stammen said, he’d save most of his schoolwork for one designated day. He put a bit less emphasis on tests, feeling that if he grasped the subject matter he would be able to score fine, but had multiple research papers due at the end of the semester that each took about four or five hours of his time.

The fact that he won’t be able to walk with his class didn’t bother Stammen too much. His family will be busy on Sunday, anyway, as his younger brother graduates from Ohio State.

“I technically graduate a few hours before him — and he’s seven years younger than me,” Stammen said with a laugh. “So they’ve got their own graduation celebration to go to… I was never big into all the hoopla of putting a cap and gown on, anyway, so I’m all right being at our game.”

Not being there for the graduation itself won’t dampen the accomplishment, though.

Among his colleagues, Stammen is joining a small fraternity. The Nationals now have at least three players with college degrees on the active 25-man roster, including Kevin Frandsen and Aaron Barrett. Ross Ohlendorf, who is on the 60-day Disabled List, also got his.

But a Fox Sports survey from 2012 found that only 39 Major League players, 4.3 percent, had graduated from four-year universities.

While a large number of players are drafted out of high school, several Nationals players are close to their degrees, but just not there yet. Right-hander Doug Fister said he is three classes away, and right-hander Drew Storen spent his first offseason as a big leaguer back at Stanford University working toward completing his. Stephen Strasburg queried Stammen on the process and the logistics this season.

Barrett took 15 hours of classes in the 2011 offseason and took his final three classes during the 2012 season when he was at Single-A Hagerstown. He finished that fall while he was playing in the Arizona Fall League.

But given the rigors of the baseball schedule, and how important the down time in the offseason is, it’s certainly not an easy thing to accomplish.

Stammen will be happy to add his name to the list.

“(My parents) have told me (that they’re proud of me) the whole time,” Stammen said. “They’ve been super supportive and I think they’ll both be pretty proud.”

Highlights from a Grand evening at Nationals Park

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by Amanda Comak

“When you’re put in that situation and the game is on the line, you want to come through for your teammates. I was happy to do that.” – Jayson Werth after his eighth-inning grand slam gave the Nationals a 10-7 victory.

“Knowing Jayson, if a pitcher looks at him wrong, he’ll take that personally. Them blatantly walking (Anthony Rendon) to get to him, you typically don’t walk to get to your 3-hole hitter, especially a veteran guy that’s proven he can get big hits. But they chose to, and it worked out in our favor this time.” – Craig Stammen, who turned in an outstanding 3.1 innings of relief to keep the Nationals in the game, on Werth’s slam.

“I’m just happy it went over the wall and we got three runs out of it.” – Bryce Harper on his majestic three-run home run into the third deck that got the Nationals back into the game.

“Any time you’re down five, it’s tough to come back. But they fought tonight. I’m proud of them for it. They stayed in it. Bryce’s homer helped. Even after they tied the game late, they still fought, which they’re happy with and I’m happy with.” — manager Matt Williams on the Nationals’ comeback.

Opening Day Memories

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by Amanda Comak

NEW YORK — The wait is almost over. In less than 24 hours, Opening Day of the 2014 baseball season will be upon us.

opening weekThis will be the Washington Nationals’ 10th Opening Day since baseball returned to D.C., and there have been plenty of memorable Opening Day moments in that span.

Who could forget Ryan Zimmerman christening Nationals Park with a walk-off on Opening Day in 2008? Or Bryce Harper smashing two home runs on his first Opening Day in the Major Leagues  — becoming the youngest player ever to do so — just last year.

But each player has their own memories of Opening Day, and it’s a special day in the baseball world. Some stand out for obvious reasons. Craig Stammen said the most memorable Opening Day for him was his first, and it also happened to be one President Barack Obama attended at Nationals Park. He shook the President’s hand. That in itself was pretty memorable.

Here are a few others, in their own words:

Adam LaRoche: “It was in Chicago (in 2012). I had like four punch-outs with the bases loaded. Luckily we won or it wouldn’t be real funny. I’ve got to be the first guy to leave like 20 guys on base through one game. I remember thinking after that game ‘Whoa, this might be a rough year.'”

To be fair to LaRoche, he was only 0-for-3 in that game, and he walked to load the bases in the eighth inning which led to the Nationals’ first run. He also went 5-for-9 with two home runs in the final two games of that opening series against the Cubs, and went on to have one of his finest seasons in the Major Leagues. 

Gio Gonzalez: “(My most memorable Opening Day) was at home against Cincinnati (in the 2012 home opener). That was when I got my first Major League hit and when I was warming up, to stretch and go out there, I thought I had plenty of time to just stretch, hear my music, get ready to go. I ended up telling (pitching coach Steve McCatty), ‘I got this. I’m ready to go.’  He said, ‘You know, you’ve got to stretch a little early because of (all the ceremonial events that go on before the game on Opening Day).’

“Next thing you know it was like 12:55 p.m. and the game was at 1 p.m. and I turned to Cat and I was like, ‘Cat, I don’t think I got this.’ I ended up not even long-tossing or throwing just went straight from stretching to the bullpen… Show and go. Sometimes it works.”

Gonzalez threw seven shutout innings that day, allowing just two hits and striking out seven.

Doug Fister: “I got called up in 2009. My first Opening Day was in 2010 in Seattle. There were a couple of us who were fairly new and our biggest thing was trying not to trip on the red carpet. They had carpet that ran from center field all the way to the line (that we had to run down during introductions).”

Matt LeCroy (bullpen coach): “My first one (in the Major Leagues). That was my debut. My first at-bat I hit a double and got a standing ovation. We were in Minnesota at the Metrodome. I made the team out of spring. I was 23 or 24 years old. It was awesome. My whole family was there. I’d just gotten married. I don’t remember (the other at-bats). But that first one was pretty cool.”

Recapping the first two days of Spring Training

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by Amanda Comak

The first two days of Spring Training 2014 have gone off without a hitch. And as more and more position players roll into camp, the pitchers and catchers continue on their head start toward the season. Here are a few snaps from the first two days of workouts here in Viera, Fla., along with some live video below.

Ross Detwiler, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann all worked in the bullpen during Sunday morning’s first session:

Craig Stammen, Gabriel Alfaro and Blake Treinen followed in the second group:

Tyler Clippard, Jerry Blevins and Drew Storen rolled in with the third group:

Back at Space Coast Stadium, where a few of the early-reporting position players worked out, Nate McLouth, Matt Skole and Anthony Rendon took a little batting practice:

Manager Matt Williams even got in on the fun, hitting grounders to the infielders and, as seen here, throwing some batting practice of his own to Jamey Carroll:

A NatsFest Thank You

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There were more than 8,400 Nationals fans who packed the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on Saturday afternoon.

And because of them, it was an unforgettable day.

We can’t say “Thank you” enough to those of you who were able to join us, and share in our excitement for the 2014 season.

Here is a small glimpse into the day that was, and with just 17 days remaining until pitchers and catchers report, hopefully this will warm your baseball-loving souls for just a little bit longer.

Enjoy!

LaRoche Launches #NatsWeekOfGiving

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by Noah Frank

On Thursday, the Washington Nationals announced our #NatsWeekOfGiving, which will run through next weekend and will include visits from players, mascots and staff to the Youth Baseball Academy, MedStar Georgetown, Arlington National Cemetery and more. But the week launched in earnest on Friday, when the USO announced that Adam LaRoche has been invited by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, to take part in his upcoming Holiday Tour. LaRoche follows in the tradition of Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen as Nationals players to take part in the military venue tour.

“They said it’s something you don’t want to miss,” said LaRoche of his conversation with his teammates about their experience on the Holiday Tour last year. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for four or five years.”

LaRoche will be joined this year by Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Bridget Kelly, former New England Patriots offensive tackle and three-time Super Bowl champion Matt Light, actor/comedian Thomas “Nephew Tommy” Miles, stars of A&E’s hit reality show “Duck Dynasty” Jep and Willie Robertson, and former correspondent on NBC’s “The Voice” Alison Haislip.

Much like Detwiler and Stammen last year, LaRoche admitted that he really didn’t know how to mentally prepare for the trip, as he has no idea what to expect. Nevertheless, LaRoche’s experience with veterans in the states has helped fill him with anticipation for the trip.

“All they want is to be back over with their brothers in arms,” LaRoche said of the Wounded Warriors he has visited with at Walter Reed Medical Center over the past three seasons. “If that doesn’t inspire you a little bit, there’s something wrong with you.”

We will have coverage of LaRoche’s USO Tour experience right here on Curly W Live.

In the meantime, you can take part in our #NatsWeekOfGiving by submitting a photo on Twitter of what you are doing to give back this holiday season. To enter the contest, simply submit a photo with the hashtag #NatsWeekOfGiving by 11:59pm on Saturday, December 14. Our Grand Prize Winner will take home an autographed Denard Span jersey and our top runner-up will win an Adam LaRoche-signed ball! Click below for official contest rules and let’s get the giving underway.

- OFFICIAL #NATSWEEKOFGIVING CONTEST RULES -

Linked Through Service

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Prior to the Third Annual Wounded Warrior Celebrity Softball Classic this Sunday, members of the team joined with celebrity participants and Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen to go help their fellow heroes. Omar Miller (CSI: Miami), Brian Dietzen (NCIS) and Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards) joined the Wounded Warrior team on a trip to Ft. Belvoir, where they met with groups of veterans using another sport – golf – to help them reacclimate to life after combat. Much like softball, the sport helps bring a measure of normalcy and serenity back to these soldiers’ lives.

Steve Griner is the head PGA Professional of the Ft. Belvoir Wounded Warrior Golf Program, which currently enrolls about 80 veterans and family members.

A group of wounded warriors with Omar Miller and Ft. Belvoir program participants.

A group of wounded warriors with Omar Miller and Ft. Belvoir program participants.

“I guess one would say, unfortunately, the numbers keep growing,” said Griner of the program’s enrollment. “But we’re helping more and more people. It’s always unfortunate that there are people that have been injured serving their country. But, if that work has to be done, for me to have a part in that, it’s just inspiring.”

After greeting and getting to know many of the members of the program over lunch, the group took to the driving range to hit some balls. While Stammen, a 3.5 handicap, showed off his talent in a second sport (he even grooved an iron shot left-handed), some of the most impressive hits of the day came from Wounded Warrior Greg Reynolds. The WWAST member is missing his entire right arm, but was still smacking shots deep into the range with just his lead arm to provide the power and stability.

For Dietzen, the opportunity to come out and play on a Major League field was certainly a perk, but the reward of getting to know the stories of the Wounded Warriors and playing with them side-by-side provided a greater gift.

The wounded warriors and celebrities chat over lunch before hitting the driving range.

The wounded warriors and celebrities chat over lunch before hitting the driving range.

“These guys that go out and do everything for us,” said Dietzen, who had previously worked with wounded veterans during a benefit golf tournament out in Los Angeles. “The very least we can do as a country is look after them when they come home, and that doesn’t just mean give them a job and go back to work.”

Miller has been a part of a USO Tour, much like Stammen and fellow Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler. While he had never worked with wounded veterans before, he realized the significance of the opportunity when it was presented to him, putting this weekend’s events above his own personal schedule.

“I was actually on my way to Vegas for the fight,” said Benson Miller, referencing the championship boxing match taking place this weekend. “And I said, ‘No, you know what? Let me prioritize. This is a lot more important.’ It’s great to come out, hang out, and have fellowship with the guys.”

Everyone hit the range at the beautiful Ft. Belvoir course.

Everyone hit the range at the beautiful Ft. Belvoir course.

Stammen, as many know, accompanied the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, on a USO tour last winter. That experience combined with his life as a professional ballplayer and avid golfer made him a perfect candidate to be able to appreciate and understand how both sports can help enrich lives.

“It’s just another way to get away from the aspects of real life, and it puts your mind on something else for about three or four hours,” said Stammen, referencing golf, though he might as well have been talking about baseball.

As for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, Stammen has seen them up close and personal each of the last two seasons, as well as in visits to Nationals Spring Training. He’s looking forward to seeing them again after the Nationals finish their series with the Phillies.

“They’re really good at what they do,” he said of the team’s success. “It’s inspiring what they do, and I think it’s going to be an enjoyable evening for everybody.”

Getting Defensive

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To this point in the season, Denard Span’s diving grab in deep left-center field at Nationals Park with two on and two out in the ninth on August 14 has been the signature defensive moment of the year. But Wednesday night in Philadelphia, the Nationals made not one, but two game-saving plays, with each coming from unlikely sources.

The Nationals had just scratched out a run in the top of the eighth to take a 3-2 lead, when, in the bottom half of the frame, the Phillies put runners at first and second with two outs. Speedy leadoff man Cesar Hernandez chopped a ball to the right side of the infield, which Adam LaRoche made a play for, but could not reach. Steve Lombardozzi was shifting to his left at a deeper angle and tracked the ball down on the lip of the outfield grass, but with LaRoche moving away from first, the only person left to cover the bag was pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. As the footrace to the base began, it became clear that if Washington couldn’t get the final out of the inning, John Mayberry Jr. was going to score the tying run from second. Zimmermann and Hernandez converged at first, as Lombardozzi’s throw came in low. The pitcher simultaneously found the bag with his right foot and picked the ball on a short-hop out of the dirt, beating the runner by a fraction of a step to end the frame.

“I was just hoping Lombo was going to hit me in the chest,” explained Zimmermann after the game, then took the chance to rib his teammate. “Instead, he threw it at my feet and made it interesting.”

As for the dig out of the dirt, Zimmermann credited the one man on the right side of the infield not in on the play, tongue still in cheek.

“I’ve gotta give a lot of credit to Rochey. He taught me everything I know.”

Even Zimmermann that he wasn’t looking at the ball all the way into his glove on the play, as the replay showed his head was “in the third deck” as he made the play. Craig Stammen, who would play a role in the second defensive gem of the night, wasn’t about to let his teammate off the hook so easily.

“I told him, ‘Nice play, you should have seen it,’” joked the right-hander, who came on to get the final two outs of the eighth.

Those two outs would come on the same play, but in truly unique, bizarre fashion. In fact, with all the baseball he’s seen in his 70 years on the planet, this one was new even to manager Davey Johnson.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a double play that way,” he said.

With one out and runners at the corners, Stammen bounced a two-strike slider to Darin Ruf, who swung and missed for strike three. With a runner at first, Ruf could not attempt to advance, marking the second out of the frame. But the ball skipped away to catcher Jhonatan Solano’s left, with the runner, Chase Utley, breaking for home. Solano raced to corral the ball, in foul territory slightly up the third base line, but when he glanced up to see if Stammen was at the plate in time for the tag, he elected instead to try to make the play himself, diving towards Utley – who was diving toward the plate – and applying the tag to Utley’s midsection just before the runner’s hands crossed the plate.

Together, they formed two tremendous, non-traditional defensive gems, the first saving the go-ahead run from scoring and the second preventing the game-tying run from crossing the plate. They added up to a crucial victory, giving Washington the road series win in Philadelphia as they continue this crucial, three-city September road trip.

What to Watch for: 8.18.13

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Washington Nationals (60-62) vs. Atlanta Braves (75-48)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-5, 3.42) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (9-6, 3.08)

A little less than 13 hours after wrapping up a marathon 8-7, 15-inning win, the Nationals will send Gio Gonzalez to the mound in search of a series victory over the Braves. Sunday’s matchup will be Gonzalez’s fourth against Atlanta this season, including his third at Turner Field. The southpaw has stifled the Braves in his last two outings against them, allowing just three runs on nine hits in 14 innings, walking two and striking out 12.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Ian Desmond SS

7. Chad Tracy 3B

8. Kurt Suzuki C

9. Gio Gonzalez LHP

BULLISH ON THE ‘PEN

Following Stephen Strasburg’s early exit Saturday, the Nationals bullpen fired 14 innings, striking out a Major League record 19 Braves (1971-present). The combination of Tanner Roark, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen and Dan Haren, who earned his first-career save, pitched what amounted to a full game, tallying eye-popping numbers: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 16 K. Meanwhile, rookie left-hander Ian Krol, following a tough loss the previous night, navigated the Nationals through the pressure-packed 10th and 11th innings without allowing a run.

MOORE, TYLER PLEASE

Tyler Moore was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse prior to Saturday night’s game, and went 2-for-4 with a run scored while playing eight innings of flawless defense at first base. During his recent stint with the Chiefs, Moore compiled a .367/.442/.664 slash line, blasting eight home runs and plating a whopping 38 RBI in 33 games. Moore was lifted in the ninth in favor of Adam LaRoche, and the move paid off – albeit six innings later – when LaRoche belted the game-deciding home run.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Some staggering numerical mementos from Washington’s 15-inning 8-7 win at Turner Field:

0 number of Braves hits with runners in scoring position in 15 innings

1 position players remaining on the bench for either team (Kurt Suzuki)

2 number of career 15th-inning homers hit by Adam LaRoche (also August 24, 2007 for Pittsburgh at Houston)

4 number of extra-inning games between the Braves and Nationals this season

10 minutes first pitch delayed by rain

18 combined number of pitchers to pitch in the game

19 strikeouts notched by Washington’s bullpen

35 number of wins, against just 12 losses, when the Nationals score last in a game

44 combined players used by both clubs

126 plate appearances in the game

319 career appearances for Dan Haren upon earning first career save

329 minutes passed during game’s duration

513 pitches in game (335 strikes)

1413 days since the Nationals last 15-inning game, a 2-1 win over the Braves on 10/4/09. Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman & Tyler Clippard (Nationals) and Adam LaRoche, Brian McCann, Rafael Soriano and Kris Medlen (Braves) also played in that contest.

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