Results tagged ‘ Jordan Zimmermann ’

Daily Wrap: Zimmermann finishes stellar spring, Fister to be reevaluated, & more

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by Amanda Comak

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The disclaimer that comes with Spring Training, and all of the stats that accompany it, is, of course, that they don’t count for anything. On Monday, whatever numbers have been accrued over the past five weeks in Florida are wiped away and the real fun begins.

071812-261 jordan zimmermannWhat more veteran players like Jordan Zimmermann look for out of Spring Training is to sharpen his skills, build up his arm strength, and come through it all healthy.

Zimmermann did that. He also threw 18 innings, allowed one run, struck out 15, allowed 11 hits and walked only one. His Spring Training ERA came complete at 0.50.

Five more scoreless innings against the New York Mets to cap his spring — along with a bases-loaded infield hit to score the Nationals’ first run in a 4-0 victory — was more than enough for him to earn Player of the Day honors as the Nationals bid adieu to the Grapefruit League.

“I felt like I did what I needed to do to get ready for the season,” the 2013 All-Star said. “The ball’s coming out well, I have a good feel for all my pitches and I’m healthy. (Spring Training stats) don’t matter, but for me I want to do (well) every time I go out. Spring doesn’t matter too much but you don’t want to get hit around every time, either… I feel good. I’m ready to go.”

Quote of the Day: Matt Williams on Doug Fister

Fister was pulled from his scheduled Minor League start after one inning when he continued to feel tightness in his right lat muscle. The right-hander will be reevaluated in D.C.

“(It didn’t happen) on any particular pitch, had nothing to do with the elbow,” Williams said. “But we took him out after his first inning as a precaution and he’ll see the doc tomorrow in Washington. We’ll see what the doc says. We’ll see where we’re at. He was due to throw 60 (pitches) today and he came out after that first inning, so it certainly is a setback (as far as the regular season goes).”

Video highlights:

Jordan Zimmermann goes five scoreless in another strong outing.

Jordan Zimmermann helps his own cause with a bases-loaded infield hit.

Bryce Harper ropes an RBI-single to center field.

Nate McLouth scores on a wild pitch.

Notables:

The Nationals will travel to Washington, D.C. on Thursday evening in advance of Saturday’s exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park… The team will participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Youth Baseball Academy before Saturday’s game… Nationals Manager Matt Williams said he is leaning toward starting Anthony Rendon at second base on Opening Day.

Daily Wrap: Treinen continues to impress, second base competition ongoing, & more

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals‘ Grapefruit League slate was whittled to six remaining games on Friday afternoon when they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-0. Gio Gonzalez tossed 4.2 innings before a high pitch count cut his day a bit short, but the Nationals’ relievers did well against the Cardinals’ lineup after his departure.

Player of the Day: Right-hander Blake Treinen

Right-hander Blake Treinen is impressing in Major League camp.

Right-hander Blake Treinen is impressing in Major League camp.

Blake Treinen has been garnering a bit more attention of late, as the Nationals’ make cuts to their roster in Major League camp and the young, flamethrowing right-hander remains. Treinen, acquired from the Oakland Athletics in the trade that sent Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners in January, 2013, has allowed just one run in his last 8.2 innings and scouts have continued to rave about his electric arsenal of pitches.

In a conversation with reporters on Friday afternoon, after he got two outs against the Cardinals, Treinen called the fact that he remains in Major League camp a “pleasant surprise.”

“My intentions and expectations coming into spring training were just to leave an impression,” Treinen told reporters. “And the fact I’m still around is an absolute blessing. I can’t thank them more for giving me the opportunity they’ve given me so far. I’m just trying to make the most of it, go day-by-day. Whatever their decision is at the end of spring training, it’s their decision. But I feel like I’ve done my absolute best to leave an impression with the big club.”

Quote of the Day: Manager Matt Williams on the ongoing competition for the starting second base job between Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa

“I’m not ready to make that decision yet. We’ve got a week left. They’ll continue to play and get at-bats. I like what I’ve seen. They’ve competed well. Anthony has played really well. His swing is right on. Danny’s swing is right on right now. They’re both quality defenders in the infield. They both play multiple positions. So, there’s options there.”

Video highlights:

Caleb Ramsey makes a phenomenal play to throw out Kolten Wong at third base from deep in right field foul territory:

Notables:

The Nationals will play their penultimate home game on Saturday afternoon when the Miami Marlins visit Space Coast Stadium. Doug Fister will start for the Nationals… Jordan Zimmermann will pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday as well.

Daily Wrap: Strasburg named Opening Day starter, Detwiler talks bullpen, & more

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by Amanda Comak

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals fell to the Houston Astros, 2-0, on Wednesday night, despite a strong five-inning performance from Taylor Jordan and solid relief work from Ross Detwiler, Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard.

To the Daily Wrap…

News of the Day: Stephen Strasburg will be the Nationals’ Opening Day starter.

Stephen Strasburg was named the Nationals' Opening Day starter for the third straight year.

Stephen Strasburg was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter for the third straight year.

Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams announced Wednesday night that, for the third consecutive year, Stephen Strasburg will be the team’s Opening Day starter.

“He’s earned it,” Williams said after the team’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros. “He’ll toe that slab for us on Opening Day.”

This spring, Strasburg has allowed just one earned run in three starts while working on holding runners and incorporating a new pitch. He’ll make his fourth start of Spring Training on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, and that start will line him up to be on turn for the Nationals’ March 31 opener at Citi Field against the New York Mets.

And while Strasburg was perhaps the expected choice, the uber-talented right-hander having done it the previous two years, Williams acknowledged that some of the other Nationals starters gave him pause before making the final decision. Jordan Zimmermann, a 19-game winner and an All-Star a season ago, was chief among them.

“We have a number of guys who could fill that position,” Williams said of the Opening Day honor. “But we spoke to Jordan and he’s good with pitching wherever and whenever. Opening Day is important, but the rest of the games are important, too.”

Quote of the Day: Ross Detwiler on taking a team-first attitude on his move to the bullpen.

Detwiler pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Wednesday night, the first step in his transition into the Nationals’ bullpen. Earlier in the day, the left-hander discussed the team’s decision with reporters, taking a team-first attitude to the move.

“I still view myself as a starter,” Detwiler said. “But I’m not going to go out there and hope somebody does bad or somebody gets hurt. We’re in it to win. And I think it’s going to hurt worse if we don’t win the whole thing this year.”

Video highlights:

Taylor Jordan strikes out five in five innings.

Ross Detwiler fans Jason Castro in the sixth.

Danny Espinosa makes a diving stop and shows off his throwing arm.

Notables:

Williams said Wednesday that right-hander Doug Fister, who pitched in a Minor League game on Monday, will return to the Major League rotation on Saturday against the Miami Marlins… Williams also said he expects the top of the Nationals’ rotation to feature Gio Gonzalez behind Strasburg and Zimmermann behind Gonzalez.

When Pitchers Hit

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by Amanda Comak

VIERA, Fla. — There was a new notation on the Washington Nationals’ daily schedule Monday morning. The spot that had been filled the past few days by the rundown for live batting practice sessions was replaced.”Pitchers Hitting Game,” it read.

Some Nationals pitchers prepare for a new hitting game during Monday's workout.

Some Nationals pitchers prepare for a new hitting game during Monday’s workout.

Around 11:15 a.m., the pitchers departed from the Minor League fields and moved the rest of their workout back toward Space Coast Stadium. One group, Team Zimmermann and Team Strasburg, made their way onto the auxiliary field just outside the stadium. Another, Team Young and Team Fister, took their places on the field inside the stadium.

The game, made-up in the mind of Rehab Pitching Coordinator Mark Grater, seemed simple. The teams were picked schoolyard style with Doug Fister and Chris Young named captains in one group, and Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann captains in another. The object was to score more runs than your opponent in a nine-inning game. The focus was on bunting, moving runners, and doing the little things that pitchers need to do at the plate but in a competitive atmosphere.

“It breaks up some of the monotony,” said Fister, who has noted his excitement about being in the National League. “There are things that we have to focus on every day that are very important, and hitting and bunting and moving runners are (some) of them. For (Manager Matt Williams) to schedule things like that where we’re able to have fun with it, it’s going to stick in our brains.”

For the teams playing on the field inside Space Coast Stadium, Grater ran the show. As pitchers gathered their helmets and bats, he ran through the rules.

  • At the start of an inning, they needed to reach base with a hit — a line drive off the L-screen protecting Grater was a single, but one-hop off it was an out. Grater himself decided whether a ball was a hit or an error. Home runs did count, but they were not the goal of the exercise, so if a pitcher hit one, he’d have to run out beyond the fence and get the ball himself.
  • The pitchers weren’t running the bases, but if they “reached” based on their plate performance, the following “hitters” had to follow the proper directions. Number of outs, where the runners were, where the defenses were playing (as determined by the team captains) all played into what the hitter would have to do (bunt, hit a ground ball to the right side of the field, etc). If they couldn’t, they were out. Successful bunts were not outs (as most would be in real games), and those who were able to produce them were allowed to stay in the batters’ box. But if a hitter bunted twice in a row, they were out.
  • If one captain decided that, with a man on second and a line drive hit into the gap, he wanted to “send the runner home,” the outcome would be decided by Grater throwing at a pre-determined target. If he hit it, the runner was out. If he missed, the runner was safe.

There was, of course, one humorous twist. Grater, as the game’s overlord and head umpire, made the rulings — and the rulings were final. Only captains could voice dissent, and others who did were required to run a lap around the infield as penalty. Gio Gonzalez found himself running several laps.

Trash talk, of course, was plentiful. And the competitive juices flowed throughout, as did the watchful eyes.

When Taylor Jordan hit a home run in the late innings, (Telling Grater, “You’re pitching me inside! What do you expect?”) he marched himself only to the outfield fence, picked up a different ball and then returned. Pitching Coach Steve McCatty would have none of that, and sent the young right-hander back down the left field foul line to properly retrieve his home run ball.

Team Fister took a late lead, but Team Young won it in the ninth when, with the “bases loaded” Christian Garcia roped a home run over the left center field fence. As Gonzalez — hands raised in victory pose — sprinted around the bases in celebration and by choice, Grater noted that because Garcia wasn’t supposed to be hitting a home run, his run didn’t count but the first three “runners” who scored would. The final score was 8-6, Team Young.

On the other field, Team Zimmermann topped Team Strasburg.

“Oh yeah,” said one reliever on the Nationals’ 19-game winner’s team. “We dominated.”

And while the purpose of the game was to get pitchers to work on their situational hitting, it also allowed them to think along with a manager and how the game would be run in those various situations.

“You’ve got to put pressure on the defense,” said Fister, who was aggressive in “sending” his baserunners. “That translates into a game. I come from an area where, playing with (Torii Hunter) last year, that’s one thing that he stresses: take that extra base. Try and stretch that single into a double, that double into a triple. It’s amazing how many extra runs you pick up just because of one extra base with that mentality.”

The pitchers enjoyed the exercise so much, that they took an amendment to the rules to Williams.

“They made a new rule,” Williams said. “This was supposed to be, we break the groups up, they play against each other, we have two winners. Now they have a championship game they want to do. So we’ve got to fit that in there, into the (schedule).”

From the Desk of Mark D. Lerner: Hello from Viera

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Hello, everyone.

Greetings from sunny Space Coast Stadium, where the weather started so-so, but spring suddenly arrived on Sunday. We are currently enjoying a gentle breeze and temperatures in the high 70’s. Perfect. I am also glad to read that things are warming up back in DC after a prolonged spate of snowy and cold weather. Sounds like spring is genuinely in the air!

Bryce Harper in the batting cage. (Photo credit: Donald Miralle)

Bryce Harper in the batting cage. (Photo credit: Donald Miralle)

Matt Williams’ first spring camp is already well underway. Pitchers have already been through two or three bullpen sessions and, yes, everyone looks great. I’ll get to that in a moment.

What has impressed me the most is just how many position players reported for duty early. With few exceptions, we have enjoyed full position-player batting practice sessions each of the last three days. So many that we have had to split the BP session over two fields.

Ryan Zimmerman in the cage. Adam LaRoche scooping balls at first base. Ian Desmond working the pivot with Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa, Jamey Carroll and Mike Fontenot. Nate McLouth working on his jumps in the outfield. All sights to behold.

  • Camp Williams is crisp, precise, upbeat and full of hustle. With that said, there have been a good number of competitive moments built in that have seized the pitchers’ attention. For example, every team has pitcher-bunting drills. However, here in Viera, pitchers and fans alike have enjoyed a competitive tweak as the pitcher attempt to bunt balls into a pair of strategically-placed ball bags. These competitive drills have resulted in good-natured hooting, hollering and trash talking. But they also demand concentration that at least partially mimics a real game.
  • Sunday morning's first bullpen session featured two decent right-handers...

    Sunday morning’s first bullpen session featured two decent right-handers.

    Nothing new here, but Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann all look fantastic. And I have a suspicion that Doug Fister is really going to have a positive influence on the others. First of all, Fister is an accomplished pitcher in his own right. He won 32 games in two-plus seasons with the Tigers. And, he’s been a part of another vaunted pitching staff. Doug has pitched in a World Series. He watched the likes of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer win Cy Young awards. There is value in that, and I doubt that it is a coincidence that his locker is located next to/near Stephen, Gio and Jordan.

  • Lots of emphasis on defense and defensive fundamentals. It was also interesting to see that Matt has some of his pitchers moonlighting at different positions during some bunt plays. There is a belief that the multi-position perspective will help fine tune the execution. At the very least, it’ll give our pitcher’s some perspective they may not have experienced since their days playing prep baseball.
  • Incidentally, Livan Hernandez used to work out almost daily at shortstop and he was the best fielding pitcher I have ever seen. I cannot express how fantastic it is to have Livan on hand as a coach. The players are really enjoying his presence and he is a heck of a teacher. Livan is a true gem who has a fantastic feel for our fans and for baseball in DC.
  • I was talking to some of our player development folks and there is great enthusiasm for the projected rosters/lineups/rotations in Triple-A Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg. It is too early to know where various players will be assigned, but there are very real layers of talent in the upper reaches of our system that will be inevitably be called upon as the season progresses. The Opening Day 25 is important, but it is really only a fleeting glimpse of the talent assembled.
  • There are ex-Expos everywhere you look around camp: Luis Ayala, Jamey Carroll, Ian Desmond (last player left who was drafted by the Expos), Randy Knorr and Bob Henley. Ayala and Carroll were inaugural-season Nationals.
  • Matt Williams’ coaching staff is filled with a lot of former catchers, which is never a bad thing. Randy Knorr, Bob Henley and Matt LeCroy. Those catchers understand the game from all angles.
  • Rafael Soriano looks good. And so do his pitches. I think there is a certain comfort that comes with a second season.
  • The local DC media has descended upon Viera this week. (Photo credit: Kyle Brostowitz)

    The local DC media has descended upon Viera this week. (Photo credit: Kyle Brostowitz)

    The local DC television media has descended upon Viera, so be sure to tune into all the local channels for in-depth interviews with Matt Williams and all of your favorite Nationals. Earlier today, we hosted ESPN and the Baseball Tonight Bus at Space Coast Stadium. Karl Ravech and Tim Kurkjian were on hand. Both are great ambassadors for their network and the game of baseball. Matt Williams and Bryce Harper were their main guests, so you will be seeing both on SportsCenter tonight.

  • Little more than a week until our Grapefruit League opener (Fri., Feb. 28 at Mets) and our Grapefruit League home opener (Sat., March 1 vs.  Braves). There is still plenty of time to plan a great family trip for Spring Training baseball in Viera. At the risk of dating myself, I still remember childhood trips to Pompano Beach to see the likes of Mike Epstein, Frank Howard, Eddie Brinkman and all of the old Senators. Great memories.
  • If you do make it down to Space Coast Stadium for a visit, please don’t hesitate to stop me and say ‘Hello.’ Our fans’ enthusiasm and spirit are infectious and I am always impressed with everyone’s knowledge of not only the Nationals, but baseball in general. Isn’t this the best time of year? Well, outside of a busy October I suppose.

Until next time …

Mark

Livan Hernandez chats with Nationals fans on Twitter

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by Amanda Comak

VIERA, Fla. — Wednesday afternoon, as the sun drenched the back fields at the Washington Nationals’ Minor League complex, Livan Hernandez sat with an iPhone and took questions from Nationals fans on Twitter. Using the hashtag #AskLivo61, Hernandez was inundated with questions, and in roughly 30 minutes he answered 40 questions from fans.

In case you missed any of Livo’s chat, we’ve got a recap for you below, so check it out:

@psawy11: Favorite stadiums to play in?

Livan Hernandez: Fenway Park for history but I like Nationals Park, especially the view.

@_JoshDangIt: I want to #askLivo61: whats your favorite thing to do before a game?

LH: Messing with people and laughing. Enjoying myself.

@AshburnNatsFan: If he didn’t pitch what position would he have wanted to play?

LH: Center field. I played third base growing up.

@PresleyDay: What is your best baseball memory?

LH: When we won the World Series with Florida.

@gteran21: What is your favorite moment with the Nats?

LH: Throwing out the first pitch in #Nats history, and getting the first win.

@natsfan58: Livo, welcome ‘home’. How happy are you to have a role on the Nats?

LH: Very happy. I’m enjoying it. Anything I can do to help the team win. I want to see the team make the playoffs & win WS.

@Star_enilnO: If a group of fans were to have a Livo day what would you like us to do? Ex: @TylerClippard had a specs day…

LH: Have fans come take BP off me!

@RedPorchReport: You gonna grow a beard?

LH: Maybe!

@NatsWx: What’s your favorite weather conditions to play in?

LH: Not too cold, not too hot, 65-70 degrees.

@ouij: ¿Fué Conrado Marrero que te eseñó lanzar la curva?

LH: Yes, he showed me how to throw the curve. How do you know that??

@jordantoine: Which among the pitching staff does he think handles himself best at the plate? the worst?

LH: I think Jordan Zimmermann is very good. Strasburg has a lot of power. They’re the best.

@MarkFD218: Who was the hitter he always dreaded facing?

LH: Todd Helton. He must’ve hit .600 off me.

@Bonedaddy38: What is your favorite traditional dish?

LH: Cuban food, rice and beans.

@demerlismatt: Who is your favorite all time player?

LH: Has to be Edgar Renteria. He hit the base hit to win the World Series with Florida.

@KyleKCPA: Who’s the best prankster on the team?

LH: Clippard is very funny. Jordan Zimmermann too.

@MattMattyIce: What was the most intense moment you’ve experienced in a Nats uni?

LH: The first game we played in 2005. We knew how important it was with baseball being back in DC.

@BeardedNatitude: Hey Livo, whatcha bench??

LH: Not too much! My legs are where I am strongest.

@The42BusDC: Which is your most liked achievement: over .500 lifetime record w/ 355 decisions or throwing nearly 2,000 strikeouts.

LH: Having my record be over .500.

@cnichols14: You were a great hitter. Which pitcher did you like to face most?

LH: Glavine was my favorite. I could see the ball good.

@saraGG14: What is your favorite pizza?

LH: Hawaiian pizza.

@MrShanntastic: What’s your favorite pitch to throw?

LH: The sinker — and the slow curve.

@OliviaB_Smith: I was always impressed with how many warm-up pitches you’d throw before each game! Didn’t your arm hurt?!

LH: Nope, never hurt. I’d throw 85 pitches.

@MrNationalsVL: Do you think you can become a good manager someday on any level of baseball

LH: I don’t know. Right now I’m enjoying what I am doing.

@haynes_kristin: What’s your favorite golf course in the DC area?

LH: Congressional.

@kapow555: How is El Duque?

LH: He is doing very well, thanks.

@ZBartosh8: Who was your favorite teammate as a National?

LH: I get along with everybody!

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:

Down on the Farm: Souza’s Patience Pays Off

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by Mike Feigen

November 1 was a significant day in the history of the Washington Nationals. Matt Williams was welcomed to Nationals Park and introduced as the club’s fifth manager since baseball returned to The District. It was a day of celebration.

But earlier that morning, the Nationals made a less heralded move – one that signaled redemption for a young player who hopes to play for Williams in the near future.

Souza_StevenSteven Souza, Jr., drafted by the Nationals in June of 2007 – the 100th-overall player selected and the sixth pick in the first three rounds by Washington – was added to the 40-man roster. Two of the players taken before him, Ross Detwiler (sixth overall) and Jordan Zimmermann (67th overall) are already household names in D.C., while Souza’s path to the Majors remains a work in progress.

Unlike the aforementioned college pitchers, Souza, an outfielder, came to the Nationals straight from the prep ranks. He bypassed a college scholarship to sign out of Cascade High School in Everett, Wash., a program that had sent former third-round pick Grady Sizemore to the big leagues just a few years earlier. Upon signing, Souza headed across the country to Viera, Fla., where he hit four home runs and added four stolen bases in 44 games for the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) Nationals.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-handed hitter split time between Short Season-A Vermont and Class-A Hagerstown in 2008, then repeated at Hagerstown in 2009 and 2010, hitting a combined .235 with 15 home runs and 43 stolen bases in 207 games with the Suns. At the age of 22, after being sidelined for 50 games, he advanced to High-A Potomac, where he hit .228 but improved his on-base percentage – posting a .360 mark – while adding 11 homers and 25 steals.

At that point, with five seasons of professional baseball under his belt, the young outfielder found himself at a crossroads.

The setbacks had been difficult, the progression through the Nationals system had been slow, and he’d made his own mistakes to compound the situation. Souza contemplated walking away from his dream.

***

Souza will join his Mesa Solar Sox teammates in the quest for an Arizona Fall League Championship on Saturday (MLB Network, 3 p.m. ET). It’s been two years since he reconsidered his place in the game, and in that time he has developed into a legitimate five-tool threat. Most recently, he’s become one of the top performers in the prospect-rich AFL circuit – all while playing less than most of his AFL counterparts.

Designated a “taxi squad” player, restricted to two games per week, Souza has maximized his opportunities in limited at-bats. While he wants to play every day, Souza said he’s learned that any chance to play is a blessing.

“Playing on the taxi squad has taught me a lot about coming off the bench,” Souza said.  “You have to take advantage of every opportunity.”

Souza hit .357/.426/.476 with eight runs, eight RBI and 10 stolen bases this fall, while hitting safely in 10 of his 11 games for the AFL East Division Champion Solar Sox. Twice he stole three bases in a game, showing off his explosive speed.

Down on the Farm_StevenSouza“As a bigger guy, speed is what separates me from some other bigger guys,” Souza explained. “I’ve worked a lot on agility and footwork. I owe everything to (Nationals first base coach) Tony Tarasco. He’s taught me everything I know about baserunning, and it’s translated well on the field.”

Souza’s AFL performance is coming on the heels of an All-Star showing at Double-A Harrisburg in 2013, where he hit .300/.396/.557 with 39 extra-base hits and 20 stolen bases in just 77 games. In 2012, with renewed enthusiasm for the game, Souza compiled an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .938 with 23 home runs and 14 stolen bases across two levels.

The transformation has been striking; after hitting no better than .237 at any of his primary stops in his first five years, Souza has hit no worse than .290 in the two seasons since.

Doug Harris, Washington’s Director of Player Development, has been thrilled to see Souza’s career blossom.

“Steven has really come into his own over the last two years,” Harris said. “He has a broad skill set with the ability to impact a game in a variety of ways. Not only has he performed at a high level during that span, but also exhibited many intangibles that have earned him a 40-man roster spot.”

For Souza, being added to the Nationals 40-man roster was a validation for all of the hard work he put in to revive his career.

“I was really honored and humbled,” Souza said of receiving the call from the Nationals. “I’m thankful to be in such a great organization.”

When offered a chance to look ahead, Souza was reluctant to set goals, saying instead that he would let his faith guide him. He made it clear, however, that he’d love to have an opportunity to play at Nationals Park in the near future.

“Honestly, if Matt Williams wants me to come in and help the team win, I’ll do that in any way I can,” he said. “If I don’t make it this year, I’ll work hard and play wherever they send me. I just want to contribute somehow – either to a win or two, or winning a championship. I’d be happy to fit in somewhere and just fade into the background.”

***

Mesa experienced a symmetrical season, racing out to a 7-0 record (plus one tie), dropping 11 of 17 games in the middle of the year, and then rallying to win its final six contests to finish with a 19-11 record. The furious finish was just enough to edge Salt River for the East Division title by a half game, as the Rafters ended their year with seven consecutive wins.

Saturday’s AFL Championship Game will be broadcast live on MLB Network at 3 p.m. ET, with the Solar Sox taking on the West Division Champion Surprise Saguaros.

Thank You From The Lerner Family

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Dear Nationals Fans:

Thank you for making our home yours, for bringing NATITUDE to Nationals Park day in and day out, for making this our third straight year of increased attendance, and for establishing the Nation’s Capital as one of the greatest baseball cities in America.

On the field, we saw many first-rate performances this year and expect to spend the offseason getting even better. We are very excited about our new manager Matt Williams. Not only does he bring an impressive wealth of knowledge and on-field experience to the Nationals dugout, but we think he is the right leader for a team that’s ready to compete for a World Series championship. Matt will partner with President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo in the offseason to make sure our squad is ready for the 2014 campaign. While Mike and his scouts may fine-tune the roster in the next few months, we believe we are already very close to competing for a World Series title as we stand today.

In 2013, the Nationals young pitching staff tossed more innings, produced one of the National League’s winningest pitchers in Jordan Zimmermann, and continued to demonstrate that with starters Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Zimmermann, our pitching corps represents one of the most formidable in the game. Veteran Jayson Werth returned midseason from a hamstring injury to become one of the most dominant hitters in baseball. Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche continued to show leadership, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Denard Span had an amazing 29-game hitting streak and an error-free year in the field. And young players like Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon made significant statements, in the field and at the plate, that they can be mainstays in the Major Leagues for years to come.

And Nats fans were there to see it all. Our April opener drew the largest regular season crowd in Nationals Park history, while our average attendance improved from even last season’s playoff year, and our broadcast and radio ratings were the highest yet. We are truly seeing our hometown become an ardent baseball city.

In the community, the team and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation were proud to help open the doors for the long-awaited Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex at Children’s National Medical Center, and we anticipate hosting our first student athletes on the fields at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy next Spring. We expect both of these initiatives to have a significant and positive impact on our community for generations to come.

The entire Nationals family is inspired by the intense passion for Major League Baseball and the team that’s growing in the capital area. We believe NATITUDE has made our town an even better community. We look forward to an exciting offseason, and plan to introduce everyone to Matt Williams and show off our talented roster at NatsFest in January. Spring Training won’t be far behind.

Thank you for your support – we believe Opening Day 2014 will be the grandest ever. You won’t want to miss it.

Sincerely,

Theodore N. Lerner Mark D. Lerner Edward L. Cohen Robert K. Tanenbaum
Annette M. Lerner Judy Lenkin Lerner Debra Lerner Cohen Marla Lerner Tanenbaum

Signature Moment of 2013: Quarterfinal #1

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With 86 wins in the books, the 2013 season had its share of lasting memories. We have seeded the top 10 in our book, and over the next few weeks we will be letting you vote in a bracket-style competition to determine the ultimate signature moment of the season. Check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through the World Series for a new poll and to see which moments advanced on to the next round.

SigMomentsBracketBRYCE

ONE HIT WONDERS | 4.25 & 4.26

On April 25 against the Cincinnati Reds, Gio Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano combined to throw just the second one-hitter in the history of the young Nationals franchise, handing the Reds an 8-1 loss. The very next night, Jordan Zimmermann did all the work himself, needing just 91 pitches to finish a one-hitter of his own, his first career shutout, 1-0. It was the first time since August 10-11, 1917 that a Washington-based baseball club had one-hit an opponent on consecutive days, when Walter Johnson and a trio of Senators did so to the Chicago White Sox.

ONE GRAND SWING | 8.10

Jayson Werth reached the 1,000-hit milestone in memorable fashion on August 10, in an 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. After a pair of singles in his second and third at-bats got him to 999, Werth was set up for a chance to reach the 1,000 mark in his next at-bat, which came in a tie game with a runner at first and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The normally methodical Werth took no time to make his presence felt, jumping on the first pitch and wrapping it inside the left field foul pole for a go-ahead, two-run home run.

GrandSwing

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