Results tagged ‘ Craig Stammen ’

The Cardiac Nats Are Back

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Nationals fans who followed the team closely last season were introduced to a term that would carry throughout the year. With the propensity of the team to play close, back-and-forth, stress-filled, ulcer-inducing nail-biters, the phrase “Cardiac Nats” began being thrown around. The 2012 edition of the Nats were 27-21 in one-run games, and 13-7 in extra innings, playing past the ninth a league-high 20 times.

It didn’t take long for the Cardiac Nats to resurface in 2013.

Wilson Ramos blasted a pair of home runs to lead the Nats to a thrilling victory.

Wilson Ramos blasted a pair of home runs to lead the Nats to a thrilling victory.

Just five games into the season, Washington played one of the most gut-wrenching, roller coaster contests in recent memory, watching a 5-1, eighth-inning lead slip away, only to weather the storm and win, 7-6 in 11 frames.

One can only imagine what it would have been like to lose such a game, a thought neither Ian Desmond nor Jayson Werth were willing to entertain afterwards. If the afternoon itself hadn’t been filled with enough drama, the Nationals were coming off the heels of a 15-0 loss the night before, the most lopsided margin of defeat in franchise history since the team moved to Washington.

So what do you do the day after you get beat by 15 runs, then watch a four-run cushion disappear in the late innings? You get back up off the mat.

Desmond, whose pair of errors led to a couple of unearned Reds runs, made sure he took advantage of the opportunity afforded him for redemption leading off the 11th inning. He worked the count to 2-0, then fouled back two consecutive fastballs on big swings. With the count level at 2-2, he destroyed a hanging breaking ball from J.J. Hoover, sending it soaring into the upper deck in left field at Great American Ball Park, an estimated 439 feet from where it left the bat.

Two batters later, Wilson Ramos absolutely demolished his second home run of the game, a 3-2 fastball off the netting behind and above the home bullpen, just to the left of straightaway center field. There are some cheap home runs to be found here in Cincinnati, but Washington’s pair of 11th-inning blasts would have been long gone in any park in the game.

Ramos’ redemption may have been even greater than Desmond’s. After all, his last Major League home run came right here, in Cincinnati, on May 12 of last year, when he tied the game with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Just two frames later, while racing to the backstop to retrieve a passed ball, his foot would plant awkwardly, his knee would buckle, and his season would come to a premature end.

With the Reds scoring again in the bottom of the 11th, trimming the margin back to one and putting the tying run in scoring position, Ramos’ second blast became the difference in the game.

The dramatic Saturday affair also highlighted one of the reasons the Nationals are so good in these types of games. With all the momentum against them, Craig Stammen – arguably the fourth or fifth option in Davey Johnson’s bullpen – came on to deliver two huge innings of relief. He fanned four, including a flailing Jay Bruce to end the game, mixing a nasty, darting two-seamer with his trademark slider.

All of it, the clutch hitting, the big performance from deep in the bullpen, can mean only one thing. The Cardiac Nats are back.

Detwiler, Stammen: Tour of Duty

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Earlier this offseason, General Martin Dempsey – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – invited Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen on the annual USO holiday tour. While abroad, Detwiler and Stammen sent us daily journal entries detailing the events of their trip.

The video below is bonus content for the full story, which can be found in Issue 1 of the Nationals Magazine. Beginning this season, we will provide links, text shortcodes and QR codes to digital features like this throughout Nationals Magazine and Inside Pitch.

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Inter-Nationals

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Hello everyone.

Things here in camp could not be better. I think that Spring Training has picked up its pace. Everyone is getting their scheduled innings and at-bats. Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson could not be more pleased with what they are seeing.

One National who should be extremely pleased with himself is Ross Detwiler, who tossed 4.0 scoreless innings in Team USA’s win-or-go-home victory on Saturday against Italy in the World Baseball Classic. Just like last October, with his team’s season in the balance, Ross put forth his finest performance and picked up the first save of his career.

I wonder if Ross’s mental preparation for that game included thoughts about all of the brave U.S. service men and women he met during the USO Tour he took with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and teammate Craig Stammen back in December. It would not surprise me, as Ross is that type of individual.

Gio Gonzalez is the most popular man in Miami heading into his Team USA debut tomorrow.

Gio Gonzalez is the most popular man in Miami heading into his Team USA debut tomorrow.

Gio Gonzalez left Viera yesterday and joins Ross and his new teammates for the first time today. He’ll get the starting nod tomorrow night as Team USA faces Puerto Rico in Miami (8 p.m. on MLB Network). Gio will be challenged, as the Puerto Rican lineup will likely include the likes of Yadir Molina, Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, Mike Aviles and Alex Rios.

Of course, we are equally as proud of Roger Bernadina (Netherlands), Eury Perez (Dominican Republic), Mike Costanzo (Italy), Randolph Oduber (Netherlands), Jimmy Van Ostrand (Canada), Adrian Nieto (Spain) and Matt Torra (Italy) for their contributions for their respective WBC teams/countries. I’d say it is fitting that our organization from Nation’s Capital is well represented in this global event.

Two position players that warrant special notice are a new-look Danny Espinosa (.345 batting average) and Anthony Rendon (.296, three doubles, three home runs). Judging by their Grapefruit League performances, I feel confident that both will enjoy productive seasons.

Last week, I was pleased to be able to share dinner with Astros manager Bo Porter. We are so proud of Bo. Honestly, he was made for this job.

As Bo explained, they are in the midst of implementing a new culture there. His club will face some challenges, not the least of which include Houston’s move to the American League and stiff AL West competition from the A’s, Angels, Mariners and Rangers. I wish Bo and his Astros nothing but the best.

Of course, Bo’s departure created a well-deserved opportunity for first base coach/outfield instructor Tony Tarasco in D.C. Tony’s transition has been seamless as he has preexisting relationships with all of our homegrown players from his days as our outfield/baserunning coordinator. I know he is also thrilled to reunite with Davey, for whom he played for in Baltimore.

As always, I have enjoyed the interaction with fans down here at Space Coast Stadium. For so many reasons, there is genuine optimism in the air among our fan base. And the sheer number of our fans down here is up compared to previous springs. I think this bodes well for a busy and boisterous ’13 campaign at Nationals Park.

Speaking of which, with Opening Day just three weeks away, reports are that everything at Nationals Park is rounding into proper shape. Our dedicated staff is putting the finishing touches on various projects and polishing up the place. Everything will be ready for our final exhibition game on Friday, March 29 against the New York Yankees. The cherry blossoms may even be in bloom in left field.

Until we blog again …

A Worthy Follow, Friday

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As well-recognized celebrities, Major Leaguers are often approached with many different types of charitable opportunities. And while we have our very own charitable foundation here at the Nationalsthe Washington Nationals Dream Foundation – there are a number of opportunities outside the organization that our players are involved with. One such organization is Teammates for Kids, founded by country music singer Garth Brooks, which has raised over $80 million since 1999, donating 100% of the money to children in need.

A number of Nationals worked with Brooks and his group last season.

A number of Nationals worked with Brooks and his group last season.

On Friday, January 11 during the Winter 2013 Teammates Appreciation Event in Garth Brooks’ Nashville, TN barn, Teammates for Kids launched their twitter handle (@teammates4kids) with Garth Brooks pledging to donate $1 for each new follower through today, Friday 1/18.

Nationals players who were “teammates” last season included:

-       Tyler Clippard

-       Ross Detwiler

-       Gio Gonzalez

-       Adam LaRoche

-       Craig Stammen

-       Drew Storen

-       Ryan Zimmerman

-       Jordan Zimmermann

In addition to their generosity, each athlete who participates in the program has their contribution tripled by Teammates for Kids. So go ahead and knock out your good deed for the day – give Teammates for Kids a follow and help our players’ donations go even farther this year.

Ross & Craig’s USO Tour – Show On The Road

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Earlier this offseason, General Martin Dempsey – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – invited Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen on the annual USO holiday tour. While abroad, Detwiler and Stammen have sent us daily journal entries detailing the events of their trip. In the interest of security, these updates – including dates and locations – are delayed several days before their release.

From: Craig Stammen | Dec 13, 2012

The morning began at 6:45 a.m. down in the lobby. Today we would be going on an aircraft carrier to do our first show. The USS John C. Stennis would be our destination in the middle of the Persian Gulf, 50 miles off the coast of Iran. Now it’s about to get real! The next 12-15 hours would be some of the most memorable of my life.

From left to right: Stammen, Caps forward Matt Hendricks, Iliza Shlesinger, Kellie Pickler and Detwiler.

From left to right: Stammen, Caps forward Matt Hendricks, Iliza Shlesinger, Kellie Pickler and Detwiler.

We boarded the COD in full chest and headgear. We would be flying approximately 40 minutes before landing on the deck of the carrier, with only a cable to stop us, just like the fighter jets. We were warned that this would be quite the experience, but that the takeoff when we left would be more exhilarating. The landing turned out to be an indescribable experience. We landed so quickly after having been going so fast, I have really no idea what I felt or what had even happened. All I know is we were on an aircraft carrier.

We were paraded around the entire ship by all of the highest-ranking naval officers on the boat. They took us up to the Captain’s chair to watch the F-18s take off and land. This was the coolest thing I think I’ve ever watched in person – yes, even better than a Notre Dame football game. Later, we were allowed to move outside to watch more planes land. Being outside was an even crazier experience. As the plane landed and came to a stop via the cable, the noise and power of the plane would shake your body to the bone. It felt like your insides were moving!

After this exhilarating experience we were shown several other parts of the ship as we neared our first show! Our job for the show was to bridge the gap between the comedian and the musician. Sweeeeeet! What were we going to do, play catch with each other? The show turned out great. There were about 3,000 crew able to attend the show, and some of them were Nats fans! We talked for about 10 minutes and threw some signed souvenirs into the crowd.  Success on the first day!

Stammen and Detwiler check out the cockpit of a jet aboard the USS Stennis.

Stammen and Detwiler check out the cockpit of a jet aboard the USS Stennis.

Iliza was extremely funny and the crew loved her. Kellie did her thing as well. Next we took a few pictures and signed autographs and got to know some of the troops a little better. They were in such high spirits and even though I don’t think many of them knew who I was, they were very appreciative of us being there. What an honor to be able to do the things I did today. As things wrapped up, we said our final thank you’s, goodbyes, and good lucks. It was now time to be catapulted off the ship!

We were warned for a few days straight how nuts this would be. It was an adrenaline rush like no other. After we were in the air, I immediately wanted to do it again – how selfish! Sergeant Major Battaglia would explain to us that many people who had been in the armed forces for 30+ years have never been able to land and take off from a carrier like we just did. Well, all I can say is that’s another thing off my bucket list, even though, before this trip, I never thought it would have been on my bucket list to begin with! I’m running out of superlatives to describe this, but wow!

Our next stop was the naval base in Bahrain. We were given a tour of the facilities, watched the General address and answer questions for the troops stationed there, and were given a bomb dog demonstration.  A dog named Cherry was the most impressive canine we saw. Big, strong and smart – a beautiful animal helping protect the USA.

We finished the day by taking photos with a lot of families on the base. A few crazy Nats fans actually knew who we were! Kellie stole the show being at the center of all the pics! The day was finally over and I was done – literally I had no energy left. However, a two-hour power nap got me ready for dinner with the “talent,” minus Kellie. By now, we were all comfortable with each other and some of us had nicknames. We had Thickness and Cindy Lou Who leading our laughs for the night!

All in all, we’ve not only been enjoying once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but we’ve also been building great friendships along the way. I can’t wait to see what’s next…

Top 12 of ’12: #4 – “The Catch”

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Top 12 Number 4The game-ending walk-off is one of the most exciting plays in baseball, as evidenced by five Nationals walk-offs making our Top 12 of ’12 list to this point. A game-ending defensive gem, one that robs the opposing team of a walk-off hit, happens far less frequently. Roger Bernadina’s August 7 play – simply known as “The Catch” – was one such moment that Nats fans won’t soon forget.

Nine games into a stretch of 17 contests in 16 days, the last thing the first-place Nationals were hoping for was a second consecutive extra-inning affair with the 36-74 Houston Astros. But after needing a three-ring circus to end an 11-inning contest the night before, the Nationals and Astros took a 2-2 game into the 12th inning before Danny Espinosa singled home Cesar Izturis to give the Nats a one-run lead. Davey Johnson summoned Tyler Clippard to close out the game, but the righty ran into trouble after a leadoff single and a two-out walk put the tying and winning runs on base for Brett Wallace.

On the fifth pitch of their battle, Clippard grooved a fastball over the middle of the plate and the left-handed hitting Wallace barreled it up, driving the ball deep toward the wall in left-centerfield. With both runners on the move with two outs, the only thing separating Houston from victory was The Shark. Bernadina raced at full throttle toward the alley – then, in a gravity-defying instant, leapt, glove outstretched, and met the ball at its apex before disappearing behind a padded concrete pillar in front of the visitor’s bullpen. After a heart-stopping moment, Bernadina emerged with the ball securely in his glove while reliever Craig Stammen celebrated in the ‘pen behind him. The Nationals won the game, went on to sweep the series from the Astros and cemented “The Catch” as the signature defensive play of the 2012 season.

- SEE THE REST OF THE TOP 12 OF ’12 -

Ross & Craig’s USO Tour – Q&A With Det

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Earlier this offseason, General Martin Dempsey – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – invited Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen on the annual USO holiday tour. While abroad, Detwiler and Stammen have sent us daily journal entries detailing the events of their trip. In the interest of security, these updates – including dates and locations – are delayed several days before their release.

Curly W Live: There were a lot of unknowns heading into your trip. How did the journey start?

Ross Detwiler: We were headed to the Air Force base and I had no idea what to expect. I knew we were going to be flying on the Blues and Whites, but other than that, I really had no expectations. We had a 6.5-hour plane ride over to Ireland where we stopped to refuel and had some breakfast. We got to go to the duty free shop there and then we got back on the plane another for another 6.5 hours to Bahrain.

CWL: When did they first make you aware of your destination?

RD: Once we were on the plane they told us we were going to Bahrain. That’s when we knew where our first stop was.

Detwiler poses with sailors aboard the USS Stenis.

Detwiler poses with sailors aboard the USS Stenis.

CWL: Describe your transportation – we hear it’s the same type of plane as Air Force Two?

RD: I actually haven’t seen the front of the plane yet, where most of the military travels, but there’s a big office right in the middle, which is General Dempsey’s quarters. In the back, there are two tables set up with two seats on either side of the table, which is where the higher-ranking officials sit – it’s like a little war room for them. Then there is a partition, and that’s where we’re sitting. We have two seats on either side and I’ve been snuggled up next to Stammen so far (laughing). We had assigned seating when we got on.

CWL: You’ve got country musician Kelly Pickler on this trip, who is the only entertainer who has done USO tours in the past. As the veteran of the group, has she given you any pointers?

RD: Each trip goes to different countries and different bases, so that’s what makes it different for her (Pickler), but she kind of told us what to expect. She’s really been a big help, because going in we had no idea what to expect, we didn’t know what the morale of the troops was going to be. We’re here to help that, but you don’t know how good or how bad it is. The two stops we’ve had so far, the morale’s been great, they’ve been really into the shows, and it’s actually been a whole lot of fun.

CWL: So what exactly does one of your shows entail?

RD: Our comedian, Iliza Shlesinger, goes first. She’s hilarious – she goes for about 20-25 minutes and the troops are just cracking up the whole time she’s up there, having a great time. And then Craig, Matt Hendricks and I get up there and we just thank them for what they’re going through here. It’s tough to know what to say to them, because they’re making the ultimate sacrifice to let us live the lives that we’re living. So we kind of take the show down a little bit, then Kellie comes on for the finish. It’s just good to be able to get up there and say thanks to that group of people, to shake their hands, take pictures and sign autographs afterward.

Detwiler and Stammen land on the USS Stennis.

Detwiler and Stammen land on the USS Stennis.

CWL: What’s your role in the show?

RD: We don’t have much time, we’re just going out there to say thank you, tell a personal story or two. They’re not there to see us, they’re there to see the performers do their job. They can’t really see us play a hockey game or a baseball game or anything.

CWL: Have you found that a lot of the troops recognize you?

RD: There’s a number of people from D.C. out here who are huge Nationals fans. They follow as much as they can. They can’t really watch on TV, but they follow us on the internet. It’s just kind of tough. They’re doing their job here, and with the time difference and all that, they can only follow online. But they are excited to follow us as a nice getaway from their job.

CWL: You left your honeymoon in Hawaii early to be here. How’s your new bride holding up with you away?

RD: She’s off in 80-degree weather and we’re stuck here in negative 10 degrees (laughing). She’s kept up with some emails to let me know how she’s doing, but it’s tough, because we can’t really tell her where we are. It’s got to be kind of nerve-racking for her to not know where I am when I’m halfway around the world.

CWL: What has been the most memorable moment of the trip so far?

RD: The first stop at the aircraft carrier off the coast of Bahrain. I didn’t know what to expect. The landing on an aircraft carrier is just unbelievable. We got to see the jets take off as they went on their training missions. You know that they take off, but once you see it, it’s incredible how little room they have. They go from 0-180 miles an hour in less than two seconds, then they’re off the flight deck and over the ocean. And that led into our first show, when we had no idea what to expect. We’re on the second deck of this aircraft carrier and the place is just packed. Thankfully, once Iliza went out there and had everyone rolling around laughing it took away some of the nervousness. We knew the morale was high, especially once Kellie went up there and everybody was singing along with her songs.

Ross & Craig’s USO Tour – Taking Off

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Earlier this offseason, General Martin Dempsey – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – invited Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen on the annual USO holiday tour. While abroad, Detwiler and Stammen have sent us daily journal entries detailing the events of their trip. In the interest of security, these updates – including dates and locations – are delayed several days before their release.

From: Craig Stammen | Dec 11, 2012

We arrived in D.C. at 8:30 a.m. after being in Las Vegas, NV less than 24 hours earlier. The USO hooked it up with a drive to pick us up and a suite just for the afternoon at the Ritz. Upon arrival, I worked out at Nationals Park and then proceeded to do several interviews about the upcoming tour. It was actually pretty fun to tell the media that we had no idea what, when, or how we were going to get to our destinations. It was also an odd feeling to not know exactly where we were going to go. But soon enough, we would find out!

Stammen with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey.

Stammen with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey.

Next stop was back to the Ritz to prepare our bags for our travel to Andrews Air Force Base where we would be flying out of the country on the Blues and Whites! Pretty darn exciting to be on a plane of that stature. This was definitely going to be an unforgettable experience getting to do some things most civilians do not get to do.

We took off from Andrews right around 7:30 p.m. The General made sure to come back to the plane where we were sitting to start some small talk to and get us acclimated to traveling with him and his traveling party. It would be a 6.5-hour trip to Shannon, Ireland. This was ample time to get to know the rest of the USO “talent,” as we’ve been dubbed. Matt Hendricks, Iliza Shlesinger and Kellie Pickler along with my teammate and good friend Ross Detwiler.

Dec 12, 2012

We arrived in Ireland around 6 a.m. local time. According to the Chairman’s staff, this was a good chance to hit the Irish Pub inside the airport. We had about an hour and a half to kill as the plane refueled. I was informed by my fiancé to take advantage of every new country I visited. I had never been outside of North America until now. For people from my hometown, being 28 and having never left the country was not uncommon, and I definitely felt like the least experienced traveler on this flight! So I saddled up to the pub and got my self a freshly baked scone and a nice, cold Guinness. Surprisingly, both went down smoothly. Now, back on the plane.

The USO holiday tour is Stammen's first-ever trip overseas.

The USO holiday tour is Stammen’s first-ever trip overseas.

Six and a half restless hours later and we were in Bahrain, right in the center of the Middle East. I had no idea what to expect. My initial thoughts were that we were going to a very poor country where I’d probably have to sleep in a bed way too small for me! However, I was greatly surprised. We arrived at the Gulf Hotel in downtown Bahrain. My room was amazing – definitely Five-Star! I am easily satisfied, but this place was extremely nice.

Next on our agenda was a dinner with General Dempsey and his wife. They chose a Thai restaurant inside the hotel. I’m not a big fan of Thai, mainly because I’ve only had it, maybe, twice! Time to expand my horizons – and it turned out to be a great dinner. The general and his wife were awesome. We later retreated to the hotel pub. At this point I was dog tired, but the conversation I was able to have with the chairman, his wife, and Detwiler was worth any sleep deprivation. We talked about what to expect on the tour and what the troops expected from us. Not much, except our thanks and time, according to the General. The conversation moved more personal and the advice General Dempsey gave me and Ross will stay with us for forever! We didn’t talk about how to be a better baseball player, but we chatted about our future, our goals, and how we were raised. Very cool, and I tried to soak it all in.

Top 12 of ‘12: #6 – Beast of a Comeback

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Top126Near the end of July, the Nationals entered the Sunday finale of a four-game set in Milwaukee looking to win the series and wrap up a 6-1 road trip before heading home to face the rival Phillies. Things looked up as Steve Lombardozzi blasted the fifth pitch of the game – a 3-1 fastball from Milwaukee starter Mark Rogers – into the seats for an early lead. But the Brewers responded with two runs of their own in the first and led 3-1 heading to the sixth inning. From there, they seemed to answer every Nationals rally. Washington scored once in the sixth and seventh, but Milwaukee answered with two runs in each frame to build a 7-3 advantage. The Nationals roared back with four in the top of the eighth to tie the game, only to watch the Brewers score twice to take a 9-7 lead entering the ninth.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Mark DeRosa drew a walk to bring Michael Morse to the plate as the tying run. Brewers closer John Axford quickly got ahead 0-2, but when he tried to sneak a fastball over the outside corner, Morse reached out and belted it the other way down the line in right, just clearing the wall inside the foul pole for a game-tying, two-run home run. Thanks to 2.1 hitless innings of relief from Craig Stammen, the contest remained knotted at 9-9 into the top of the 11th, when Bryce Harper walked and Ryan Zimmerman singled, bringing up Morse once more. “The Beast” fell behind in the count again before hooking a 1-2 breaking ball down the left field line into the corner, scoring Harper easily and Zimmerman on a slide just ahead of the relay throw from shallow left field, pushing Washington in front, 11-9. Tyler Clippard hung on for the save in the bottom of the frame and the Nationals escaped the biggest roller coaster ride of the 2012 campaign with another Curly W in the books.

- SEE THE REST OF THE TOP 12 OF ’12 -

Tour of Duty

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Earlier this week, Craig Stammen and Ross Detwiler departed on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Personally invited by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey, the two Nationals pitchers joined Capitals forward Matt Hendricks, country music singer Kellie Pickler and actor/comedian Iliza Shlesinger on a four-stop, seven-day USO holiday tour, visiting American troops overseas.

OnStageDue to the national security protocols involved in such a journey, not even the players themselves knew where they were headed as they took off to head overseas. All they were told was to pack for temperatures ranging from below zero to summer warmth in the 80s or 90s.

As exciting as the prospect of such a journey made the players, there was nevertheless some nervousness associated with heading into war-torn areas, not even knowing exactly what part of the world they would be visiting. One can only imagine how much that must have been amplified for Stammen, who had never been overseas before the tour. Detwiler, meanwhile, cut short his honeymoon in Hawaii to go on the trip.

Be sure to follow @Nationals, @CStammen35, @NationalDet and @the_USO on Twitter for updates from the tour as they become available.

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