Results tagged ‘ Doug Slaten ’

Doug Slaten & Jimi Hendrix: Fellow Southpaws

When most people see Doug Slaten, they see the pitcher—a lefty specialist brought into the game to get a clutch out in relief. But what they don’t realize is that Slaten has picked up an interesting hobby that can be considered almost as difficult as pitching. He’s trying to learn how to play the guitar.

“I actually started this offseason. My dad’s played for a long time. I grew up in a musical household, but I never picked it up. So I went home this offseason and asked my dad to show me a few chords to start off with,” he said. “I started there and practiced this whole offseason.”

By the time Slaten got to Spring Training in Viera, Fla., he found his musical interests were shared by Nationals Minor Leaguer Josh Wilkie. Wilkie, who is currently pitching at Syracuse, also plays guitar and was able to teach Slaten a few things, but, as Slaten said, learning guitar is “a day-by-day process.”

Slaten, who is left-handed, said his first attempts on guitar were as a right-hander.

“I started off with a righty guitar, with my dad’s guitar upside-down. But that got too hard for me to figure out chords,” he said.

Slaten has another lefty as one of his guitar idols—Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix is famous for, among various other things, taking a right-handed guitar and re-stringing it for a lefty. Slaten said he considered attempting this at first, but resigned to purchasing a couple of standard left-handed guitars.

He now owns a Martin acoustic and a Schecter Tempest electric guitar. Schecter is more often than not associated with hard rock and metal music, but Slaten said the genres of music he tends to play don’t fall in line with that stereotype.

“I have a pretty eclectic taste in music,” Slaten said. “I grew up on a lot of old folk music and stuff like that, so I’m playing a lot of that. I’m playing a lot of folk and country-style stuff on the acoustic and more blues on the electric.”

But Slaten admitted that since starting to play, his tastes have begun to evolve.

“It’s changing a little bit. What I thought I’d play—the stuff I listened to and what I wanted to play—hasn’t really turned me on as much as other stuff,” Slaten said. “I do like Doc Watson, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and a lot of folk stuff.”

His current projects include learning “Little Wing” by Hendrix and “Shady Grove” by Doc Watson. But, as Slaten doesn’t read music or tablature, the process is a slow one.

“I’ve been trying to learn by ear a little bit,” Slaten said. “I’m getting better at hearing the notes and the chords. It’s also easy for me to just learn by watching someone else do it, so that I can just mimic that. I found a guy online and I signed up for his lessons, and that’s helped a lot.”

Slaten might not need lessons to do his day job well—but he still said it was far more difficult than his new hobby.

“I’m in the infancy stage of playing the guitar, but I would say that pitching so far is definitely harder,” he said. “I’ve been pitching for 26 years and it’s still hard.”

At 31, Slaten likely still has several years of pitching ahead of him. His future as a musician may have some prospects, though.

“I’ll go to California, out to Venice Beach, once I’m done playing ball, and squat down on the boardwalk with my guitar case to try and make some money,” he joked.

All rhetorical situations aside, Slaten said he’s not about to start a band, pack up a van and hit the road on tour. He’s not going to be seen in the local coffeehouse playing an acoustic folk set for patrons. For Slaten, it’s primarily a personal enjoyment—though his teammates may soon be entertained as well.

“I take it on the road. After the games at night, I come home and play for a little bit. One day I was going to bring it in here and play for a bit, but I’m trying to play a little better first before I have my first concert,” he said. “It’s mostly just for myself. It’s therapeutic.”

Curly W Live Welcomes Owner Mark D. Lerner

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.

Greetings NatsTown from sunny and warm Viera, Fla., the Spring Training home of the Washington Nationals.

It would be impossible to describe the feeling you experience when you first arrive at Spring Training each February… the smell of the fresh-cut grass, the sound of a bat striking a baseball, the buzz you feel in the air as fans of all ages assemble to watch Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper driving balls over the fence during batting practice. Nothing compares to Spring Training, especially after a long, cold winter in Washington, DC.

Today, the Nationals open their Spring Training schedule with a matinee against the New York Mets. Just a quick trip down I-95 to Port St. Lucie, then we’ll get to hear the first “play ball” of the 2011 spring season. I am really looking forward to it.

For Nationals fans who weren’t able to escape to Florida to catch the opener, you’ll have the opportunity to follow along on Our spring broadcasts on TV and radio begin next week (speaking of radio… check this morning for an exciting announcement that will positively impact our radio listeners beginning in 2011). Our first game on MASN is this Saturday against the New York Yankees in Tampa.

Since my wife, Judy, and I arrived in town on Saturday, I have had the opportunity to watch a few workouts and catch up with many of our players. I’ll share my initial impressions below:

* We were in town just a matter of minutes on Saturday afternoon, before we encountered three of our neighbors — Bryce Harper, Doug Slaten and Sean Burnett — at the apartment complex we will call home for the next few weeks.

Doug and Sean are two of the nicest guys in the game, and we are fortunate to have that pair of reliable southpaws in our bullpen.

Bryce also has a great personality and is mature beyond his years. I hadn’t seen him since he participated in the Florida Instructional League in October, and let me tell you… he has worked extremely hard over the last number of months to prepare for his first pro season. It looks as though he has gained significant muscle, which will surely help him as he navigates through his first professional baseball season. It is hard to believe he is just 18 years old. 

* I caught up yesterday morning with our General Manager Mike Rizzo over breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel (where else!) near Space Coast Stadium. He is very pleased with the way the first two weeks of camp have gone, noting a renewed spirit, work ethic and professionalism at workouts. And, he remarked that several of the veteran players he acquired this offseason are making an immediate impact in the clubhouse and on the field. We just have a great batch of players that Mike has imported and they seem so much more dedicated to playing the game right, working hard and enjoying themselves as a team or unit.

It does bode well for 2011…

* The first guy I run into as I pulled into the park was Stephen Strasburg. He looks terrific and it’s evident that he has been dedicated to his rehab and conditioning. He was long tossing 75 feet yesterday at practice.

* A very large crowd greeted the team at practice today. I ran into many of our fans who have come down from DC.  I love connecting with our fans, and this blog is one outlet that will afford me that opportunity. I encourage any fans that are planning a trip to Viera to catch some spring action, please stop by to say hello as we cheer on the Nats together.

*Sad news yesterday for all baseball fans,  as we heard about the passing of Hall of Famer and Dodger legend Duke Snider. The Nationals family send their deepest condolences to the Snider family.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks, as I plan to blog periodically (three-four times each week) to share my Spring Training experiences and thoughts with our dedicated fans in NatsTown.

30 Players in 30 Days: Doug Slaten

Doug Slaten straight dealing.jpgThe Nationals bullpen ranked last in the Majors with a 5.04 ERA in 2009. In 2010, the revamped bullpen was the Nats knockout punch. They posted a 3.33 ERA, good enough for fifth in the Majors and fourth and the NL. It was a night and day difference from last season. Contrasting bullpen ERAs from ’10 to ’09, the Nationals paced the Majors with an improvement of -1.71. San Diego was second with an improvement of just under one run. Doug Slaten was one of the reasons for the improvement.


The 30-yead-old lefthander was claimed off waivers in October and earned a spot in the bullpen in May, after a dominate performance at Triple-A Syracuse, pitching 17.0 scoreless innings of relief.


“He’s was outstanding down in Triple-A,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He earned his way up here. We try to reward success down there, and certainly he’s pitched well.”


Slaten was lights-out after July 24 for the Nats. He went 2-0 with two holds, a .176 BAA and a 2.29 ERA (5 ER/19.2 IP) in 23 appearances. Overall, he wasn’t the go-to pitcher in pressure situations but he pitched well when his name was called. He didn’t allow a run in 37 of his 49 outings and only allowed 15.4 percent of the inherited runners to score, bested only by Drew Storen’s 14.8 percent on the Nationals.


After the best season of his career, Slaten proved he can be a lefty specialist–lefthanders hit just .151 (11-for-73) against him this season–and a strong sixth or seventh member of a bullpen.

Pregame Stare Down

We head out to the field still 2+ hours before game time as Coach is ready to officially lead warm-ups. As we walk down the left field line toward the Nationals bullpen where the pitchers will warm up first, we spot reliever Doug Slaten engaged in a serious stare down with what appears to be a giant praying mantis perched atop the dugout. We continue on our way, and as Slaten joins the assembled pitchers, he recaps the encounter with the insect, taking care to note the unique capabilities of its eyes. “I couldn’t sneak up on it,” he explains in amazed frustration. “Its eyes could wrap around behind its head, like it didn’t have a blind spot.”


We’re not sure, but we take that to mean Slaten did not win the staring contest.

Friday Fun Facts

I know you were wondering why Doug Slaten got the victory instead of Miguel Batista, who became the pitcher of record after he relieved John Lannan with two outs in the fifth–starters have to pitch at least 5.0 innings to be the pitcher of record. Lannan would have earned the victory had he recorded the final out in the fifth, but Batista became the pitcher of record after getting the last out in the fifth.


Batista inherited two runners in the bottom of the fifth and allowed one to score. If he had stopped pitching after he recorded the final out in the fifth, he would have posted the 1/3 inning win–there were 54 of them last year. But here is where it gets semi-tricky… Batista pitched into the seventh inning and surrendered a two-run homer, cutting the Nats lead to 7-6. Slaten recorded the final two outs of the seventh and the official scorer decided to give him the victory. This is where rule 10.17 (c) comes into play–yeah, the one you memorized in middle school.


And Rule 10.17 (c) reads… The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.


It is clear that the official scorer did not find Batista’s three hits, two runs and one home run in 1.2 innings as effective and that’s why Slaten got the win.


In other news just as irrelevant… I am always amazed at the people at Elias Sports Bureau. I can’t imagine where we would be without them. They know everything. And if they don’t know everything, they sure can find anything. I think the world would be worse off without them. They let us know the last time someone went 4-for-4 on their birthday without driving in a run on the road after an hour rain delay with a 14 mph wind to the NE. They are good.


Here are five things I learned this week from Elias. I am now a better person because of it.



Tyler Clippard, who was credited with the victory in the Nationals win over the Mets, now leads the National League with seven wins this season. The last relief pitcher with a league lead with seven or more wins was the Braves Gene Garber in 1987; his eight wins led the National League as late as June 12 that season. Only one other pitcher in major-league history accumulated seven relief wins in as few as 34 team games: Houston’s Jim Ray had 7 wins in the first 28 games of the 1972 season.


Roger Bernadina came into Wednesday’s game against the Mets with a .212 career batting average and no home runs in 113 at-bats over his 41-game major-league career. But he went 3-for-5 with two home runs–including one off New York’s relief ace Francisco Rodriguez in the top of the ninth that broke a 4-4 tie–and made a sliding, backhanded catch that saved three runs in the Nationals 6-4 victory. Bernadina became the first major-leaguer in nearly 11 years to enjoy a multiple-homer game after entering that game homerless in at least 100 big-league at-bats. The last player to do that was Tim Hyers of the Marlins, who hit what proved to be the only two homers of his major-league career in an 11-6 victory over the Devil Rays in St. Petersburg on June 6, 1999. Among the other players who did that but went on to have careers that lasted a bit longer than Hyers were Hall-of-Famers Lou Boudreau and George Kell.


Miguel Olivo’s 10th-inning home run capped a 5-for-5 day as the Rockies defeated the Phillies, 4-3, in Denver on Wednesday. Put this in your “Elias Says” Hall of Fame: only two other players in modern major-league history have gone 5-for-5, climaxed by a game-ending home run: Jim Northrup did it for the Tigers (actually going 6-for-6) in a 13-inning win over the Athletics in 1969, and Fred McGriff did it for the Braves against the Cubs in 1996. Several other players have had five hits in a game in which they hit walkoff home runs (without going 5-for-5), including Hall-of-Famers Kiki Cuyler, George Brett and Jim Rice, as well as Pedro Martinez’s former sparring partner, Don Zimmer (who did it for the Dodgers in 1957).


Ryan Zimmerman hit a pair of home runs in the Nationals’ game Thursday at Coors Field. It was Zimmerman’s second two-homer game this season and the sixth of his career. His first two-homer game came in Washington on Aug. 4, 2007 but all five since then have been in Nationals road games.


Zack Greinke, the 2009 A.L. Cy Young Award winner, recorded his first win this season with a 6-4 victory against the Indians on Thursday. Greinke entered the game with a 0-4 record in seven starts this season, even though he had the 11th-lowest ERA in the American League (2.51). Excluding relievers, the only other defending Cy Young winners who did not get their first victory the next season until their eighth game or later were Jim Lonborg in 1968 (9th game) and Frank Viola in 1989 (8th game).

Happy Mother’s Day

A win today will give the Nats their fourth series victory at home–sixth overall–and put them three games over .500 for the second time this season.


The Nats bullpen is back at full strength after working with six relievers for the past eight games. The Nats selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Doug Slaten from Syracuse and designated left-handed pitcher Matt Chico for assignment.


In 11 appearances with Syracuse, Slaten worked 17.0 scoreless innings to earn the promotion. In those 17.0 innings, Slaten was touched for just 11 hits and issued one walk. He struck out 17.


The 30 year-old Slaten is 3-5 with 13 holds and a 3.68 ERA (33 ER/80.2 IP) in 126 career big league appearances spanning four seasons (2006-09) with Arizona. His finest season came in 2007, when he posted three wins, seven holds and a 2.72 ERA in a career-high 61 games to help the Diamondbacks earn a post-season berth.


Marlins (14-16):

1.    Chris Coghlan – LF

2.    Wes Helms – 3B

3.    Hanley Ramirez – SS

4.    Jorge Cantu – 1B

5.    Dan Uggla – 2B

6.    John Baker – C

7.    Cody Ross – CF

8.    Bryan Petersen – RF

9.    Anibal Sanchez – SP (1-2, 4.06 ERA)

 Nationals (16-14):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Roger Bernadina – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Livan Hernandez – SP (4-1, 0.99 ERA)

Nats claim Doug Slaten off waivers

Baseball’s offseason has officially begun. The Nats made their first move to bolster the bullpen today and claimed left-handed reliever Doug Slaten off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks.


The 6-foot-5, Venice Calif., native is 3-5 with 13 holds and a 3.68 ERA in 126 career Major League appearances with Arizona spanning four seasons (2006-2009). During his four-year Big League career, Slaten has suffered just one blown save, stranded 77 percent of inherited base runners (60 of 78) and limited left-handed batters to a .322 on-base mark while yielding just four home runs. 


Slaten’s finest season came in 2007, when he posted seven holds en route to a 2.72 ERA in 61 appearances as the Diamondbacks claimed the NL West title.


The 29-year-old Slaten was on the D-backs Opening Day roster but struggled a bit in 2009. When it was all said and done, he made three brief Major League stints, appearing in 11 games (6.1 innings). He spent the majority of the season with the Triple-A Reno Aces, going 3-2 with nine saves and a 3.09 ERA in 39 appearances.


Slaten was Arizona’s 17th-round selection in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft out of Pierce College in Los Angeles.