Results tagged ‘ Justin Maxwell ’

Nationals trade Justin Maxwell

The Nationals traded Maryland native Justin Maxwell to the Yankees in return for Minor League right-handed pitcher Adam Olbrychowski

 

Maxwell was designated for assignment last Thursday to create an extra space on the 40-man roster and the Nats had 10 days to trade Maxwell, reassign him to the Minor Leagues or release him. They traded him.

 

Maxwell was always a hometown favorite but he never was able to transform his talent into consistent play at the Major League level. He spent time between the Minors and Majors the last two seasons and batted .201 with nine homers and 26 RBI in 122 games over three seasons (2007, 2009-10) with Washington.

 

Olbrychowski went 3-2 with four holds, one save and a 3.90 ERA in 32 games (one start) last season with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. During the last two seasons (2009-10), the 24-year-old is a combined 6-4 with seven holds, one save and a 3.31 ERA in 65 games/three starts at Single-A and Double-A. He was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Pepperdine University.

 

In other news, the Nats outrighted right-handed pitcher Shairon Martis to Triple-A Syracuse. Martis will be a non-roster invitee at Big League Spring Training.

 

They also agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Cla Meredith and infielder Alex Cora on Minor League contracts that include Spring Training invitations.

 

30 Players in 30 Days: Justin Maxwell


Justin Maxwell post grand slam.jpgIt is tough to describe Justin Maxwell’s season with one word but it was a journey, a constant journey between Syracuse and Washington. He entered Spring Training with a chance to start in right field, a spot left vacant when the Nats jettisoned Elijah Dukes on St. Patrick’s Day. He didn’t make the cut–literally at the plate or figuratively on the roster–and was sent to the Minors on one of the final days of camp. He made the journey back and forth between the Majors and Minors four times during the season and finally stuck with the Nats on August 2.

Maxwell has a long, equine stride the makes him look as graceful as a deer in the field but he has never found his rhythm at the plate with the Nationals. He started just 26 games–played in 67–and batted .144 (15-for-104) with three home runs, 12 RBI and 43 strikeouts. At the same time, he had 25 walks and a .305 OBP. It is there that lies the conundrum: he has a great eye at the plate but has too many holes in his swing and frequently strikes out. As an everyday center fielder for the Chiefs, he batted .287 (66-for-230) with six home runs, 21 RBI and a .390 OBP in 66 games.

The Maryland native never got a chance to play every day in the Majors and was used primarily against lefties. It raises the question… was he having trouble hitting because he wasn’t playing regularly or was he not playing regularly because he was having trouble hitting?

“To be a regular in the Big Leagues, you got to be able to hit right-handed pitching,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “It is a challenge, and he works very hard and he puts in a lot of time. …We’re waiting for it all to come together.”

When the bases are loaded, he doesn’t have a problem hitting any type of pitching. He is 3-for-5 with three home runs, one walk and 13 RBI with the bases full.

Maxwell isn’t at the crossroads of his career but the 2011 season will answer a lot of questions and determine his future as a Nationals player. Can he be an everyday Major League outfielder in the Majors? He doesn’t lack speed or talent but will he be able to consistently hit right-handed pitching? We will find out next year.

Goodbye Atlanta

It’s then down to the clubhouse one last time. Whatever your musical tastes, if post-game music greets you as you enter the clubhouse, it means it was a good day. The assembled media crowds around John Lannan, Sean Burnett and Justin Maxwell’s lockers. As luck would have it, all three are in close proximity to one another in the corner closest to the exit, so the additional traffic makes it challenging to get around. Add to that the getaway day chaos of clubhouse staff trying to haul bags and boxes out to the busses, and well, you’d better keep your head on a swivel.

 

The best quote we heard, and we’re summarizing here, came from Justin when a reporter asked him about playing the role of spoiler, and if the Nats can build off this series going into another similar situation in Philadelphia. Without blinking, Maxwell replied that the Nationals don’t want to consider themselves as spoilers because they are trying to be in a position to fight for a playoff spot themselves next year. It was as if he and his teammates don’t want to get comfortable in the spoiler role–they want to constantly be improving and building so that they’re the ones chasing a division title. Pretty good stuff from the local Maryland product–it sounds like he and his teammates certainly have the right approach to the final three weeks of the season.

 

The media then thins out and the players finish packing up their lockers. They exchange well wishes and high fives with the Atlanta clubhouse staff – with three visits a year, it’s clear that they develop a strong appreciation for the hard work of these guys in making their life on the road so much easier.

 

And with that, it’s out to the buses and off to the airport, which is our cue to put a bow on our roadtrip blog. We hope you’ve enjoyed the temporary departure from the content you’ve grown accustomed to in this space. We’ve had a blast sharing some of the team’s fun stories, and bringing you closer to the people and personalities that bring the games to life. A special thanks to Manager Jim Riggleman, his staff and the players for letting us tag along, as well as the TV and radio teams who do such an incredible job in front of the camera and behind the mic.

All is well with Maxwell

The game itself saw Justin Maxwell hit his third career grand slam in the second inning, before the Nationals held off a Braves comeback. Atlanta had opportunities throughout the game, but John Lannan scattered eight hits through six innings, and the bullpen trio of Joel Peralta, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen combined for three scoreless innings of relief in a 4-2 Nats victory.

 

Most importantly, the Nats earned their second straight road series win, and improved their record to 8-7 vs. Atlanta this season.

 

While there were many similarities between our time spent with Dave and Charlie in the radio broadcast booth, there were also a handful of stark differences. The most obvious being the huge camera in the back of the booth–it is TV after all. More subtly though, the TV announcers don’t rotate innings so they can’t really take a bathroom break during the game. We tried to get the authentic experience, but couldn’t quite hold out during the seventh inning.

 

This also means the TV broadcasters can’t get up to get a snack or a drink during the game. Bob had the foresight to grab a box of Trix cereal–no, they’re not just for kids–and a bagel. Ray just made fun of Bob’s choices but opted for no snack. We’re guessing that by the middle of the game, Ray was secretly jealous of his partner’s snacks, but by that point, he was out of luck.

 

Once Bob makes the call on Drew Storen’s strikeout to end the game, he quickly draws the game broadcast to a close. During the ensuing commercial break, he and Ray get ready for their final exchange with Johnny Holiday on the post-game show. It’s a quick back and forth recapping the Braves series clincher before looking ahead to another tough matchup vs. the Phillies.

The Nats make a few roster moves

It was a busy day for the Nats. They recalled left-handed pitcher Scott Olsen and outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Triple-A Syracuse Chief and designated right-handed pitcher Jason Bergmann for assignment.

 

It was inevitable when the season started with eight pitchers in the bullpen that the Nats would eventually have to drop down to seven pitchers in the bullpen. Today was that day. Bergmann wasn’t the likely candidate on Opening Day but he pitched himself into that position with a 15.43 ERA (4 ER/ 2.1 IP) in four games.

 

Olsen, 26, started this afternoon’s series finale at Philadelphia. Olsen made one start for Syracuse, allowing four runs on eight hits in 6.0 innings during Friday’s no-decision vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies). He started just 11 games last season and his last start was on July 10 before he had left shoulder surgery. He wasn’t quite 100 percent at the end of Spring Training but his fastball is back in the low 90’s and he could become a valuable southpaw in the Nats rotation.

 

Maxwell, 26, struggled this spring but was 5-for-15 (.333) with two doubles, two RBI, five runs scored, five walks and two stolen bases in four games with Syracuse prior to the promotion.

 

The Nats also voided the April 11 option of right-handed pitcher Garrett Mock to Syracuse, and instead, placed Mock on the 15-Day Disabled List, retroactive to April 11, with a right cervical spine disc injury. Mock, 26, received a no-decision on Friday at New York (NL) in his 2010 debut. He worked 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks.

Countdown to Opening Day: 10 till ’10

Opening Day at Nationals Park is finally here though it seems like yesterday we were celebrating Justin Maxwell’s walk-off grand slam. Spring Training is over and we conclude our countdown of the 10 most memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins with the Nationals most unforgettable home run of the 2009 season. You have seen it before but you’ll want to see them again.

 

 The Nats hope they can begin the 2010 season the same way they ended the 2009 campaign–on a seven game winning streak. 2009 ended at Nationals Park with a bang. Justin “All is well that ends” Maxwell connected on a 92 mph fastball and drove it into the flowers in left for a walk-off grand slam. Click here to view it on NatsHD or here…
20090930 Maxwell Walkoff GS.mpg …to view Desmond blast the ball to the Red Porch restaurant.

Countdown to Opening Day: 10 till ’10

There are eight weeks (nine Mondays) until Opening Day on April 5 at Nationals Park. We are counting down the final few weeks of the offseason highlighting 10 memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins. You have seen them before but you’ll want to see them again.

 

Last week we highlighted Ryan Zimmerman’s 30 game hit-streak. This week we acknowledge a person’s ability to defy gravity and fly in center field.

 

Click here to view it on NatsHD or here…
20090523 Maxwell catch_hi.mpg … to view Justin Maxwell run like Usain Bolt and jump like Jordan to rob a home run from Adam Jones on May 23 against the Orioles. Maxwell is extremely athletic–he runs like a gazelle with long strides and has a spring in every step. He is an above-average fielder and plus-runner (41 stolen bases between Triple-A Syracuse and the Nationals last season) but he now has to prove he can make consistent contact during a full season like he did last September.

 

Nats Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein got the idea to lower his hands to chest level after watching video of other long-levered sluggers like Dave Winfield. The minor change made a major impact and helped his numbers sore in September. He played in 23 games and batted .306 (15-for-49) with three home runs and six RBI. This isn’t the only memorable moment Maxwell provided NatsTown in 2009.

 

Keep in mind Spring Training is just around the corner. The Nats report/workout dates are as follows: pitchers/catchers report on Feb. 19–that’s next Friday– position players report on Feb. 24 and the first full-squad workout is on Feb. 26.

Lannan and Maxwell spread holiday cheer


Lannan and Maxwell cc.jpgNationals pitcher John Lannan and outfielder Justin Maxwell got together at ESPN Zone on Saturday to spread some holiday cheer at the Fourth Annual Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington Holiday Party. The players handed out toys, signed autographs and played games with the 120 children who attended the party.

“One of the main reasons I stayed in the area [this offseason] was to be able to do more outside of the season when I have more time to spend with these kids and be in the community,” Lannan said. “This is my second year at the Boys & Girls Club Holiday Party and I’m having a lot of fun.”


Happy kid c.jpgLannan and Maxwell passed out gifts to each child and the excitement was evident with each Barbie, Batman figurine, finger skateboard and My Ameoba handed out. The two then went from table to table signing autographs and posing for pictures with all the club members while the kids ate mini burgers, chicken fingers and pasta.

“The kids really enjoyed this party,” said Leah Lamb, who is the Chief Development Officer of B&GCGW. “Half of them can’t sleep the night before. It’s very exciting for all of us. It’s wonderful not only because it kicks off the season for our kids, but in some cases our kids don’t necessarily have the means–their parents don’t have the means to provide a Christmas for them. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to enjoy the holiday season.”

About an hour into the party “Screech” joined the fun and caused quite the ruckus. The kids were excited to see him and his bag of toys. “Screech” brought Build-A-Bear Screech toys for everyone in attendance.


Screech with kids c.jpg
Nationals and Boys and Girls Club at ESPN Zone 022 cc.jpgAfter everyone had their fill of food, they all headed to the game room for an hour of air-hockey, bowling and racing, among other games to bring the joyous celebration to an end.

“The holidays are always a special time,” Maxwell said. “To see all the smiles on their facesit means a lot to me. The DC-area is my home and has been for most of my life and I thank God for the opportunity to play here.”

Happy Thanksgiving: Enjoy Your Pies

There isn’t a better way of saying “great job” or “welcome to The Show” than getting a shaving cream meringue pie square in the face. It screams good job, leaving both eyes squinting, stinging and blurry to make sure you remember you were important tonight. It is the single game version of the playoff clinching celebratory champagne shower.


j. d. martin pie 2.JPGThe sour taste in the mouth and tears in the eyes are imperative, they are the robust rewards to make sure you –yes, you–know you won the game. It doesn’t taste like key lime or pumpkin pie–quite the opposite–but the shaving cream pie is a tasty treat in its own right.

Pieing has taken place in baseball for a while but there isn’t a documented beginning of the tradition. On the other hand, there is a start date for the pieing practice this season for the Nats. It began on April 20th after Jordan Zimmermann recorded his first Major League victory. Starting pitcher John Lannan is the Nationals pieing practitioner.

“I was the only pitcher in the starting rotation that wasn’t a rookie, so I took that role because of that fact,” Lannan said. “I get along with them so well that I want to be the guy that says here is a pie in the face. You did a good job. Welcome to the Big Leagues.”

Jordan ZimmermannFirst start, first win and victim No. 1. Bam. As Zimmermann finished his post-game interview with Debbi Taylor, Lannan with teammate Scott Olsen emerged from the steps of the dugout. Taylor slyly stepped out of the way and as Zimmermann turned around to walk into the clubhouse, Olsen delivered a devastating Joe Louis left-hook that had Zimmermann looking like baseball’s version of Two Face. Zimmermann tried to avoid the second pie–a half hearted run along the warning track–but Lannan reared back, grabbed his right shoulder and made sure the left side of his face felt the fury too. A typically emotionless Zimmermann beamed ear to ear in a post-game interview. 

“That was definitely shaving cream,” said Zimmermann that night. “It stung a little bit but I will be just fine.”

It didn’t stop there.

Craig StammenWelcome to The Show. Bam. Stammen had just pitched 6 1/3 innings allowing zero runs on six hits to get his first Major League victory at Yankee Stadium and handed the Nats a series victory over the Bronx Bombers. That has all the credentials for the pie platter. As Taylor distracted Stammen with a few post-game questions, Lannan locked in on his target, pitching a perfect pie game to the face has never been a problem.

Lannan isn’t known for his ninja like skills but he has an uncanny ability to successfully throw pie strikes each time.

“Debbi makes sure the interviewee is facing the field,” said Lannan conceding that Debbi is in on the pie prank. “So I come up through the stairs very secretively. I try to do it half way through the conversation because they know it’s coming but they forget because they are focusing on the question.”


garrett mock pie 3.JPGGarrett Mock
Your five o’clock shadow is showing–here let me help you. Bam.

The next day… J.D. MartinShaving cream is a great way to cool down. Bam.

Ross DetwilerYour 13th Major League start was memorable. Bam.

“I change it up,” Lannan said. “I do a little splatter. I do a little rub in the face and make sure it gets everywhere. My main goal is to make sure Debbi Taylor doesn’t get any shaving cream on her clothes.”

How can you get mad at someone who is that courteous? You can’t.

Lannan might have to change his tactics in 2010. Players adapt. Players get smarter. Players find a way to avoid the inevitable. Of course, not if you are always one step ahead of them.  He can always take a page out of the Mark Lowe pieing text book–it’s not for sale and I guess it’s not actually a book but it’s on YouTube.

Last year, Seattles’ Mark Lowe pied the usual culprit J.J. Putz after he made his first start off the disabled list. During his post-game interview in the dugout, Putz constantly looked over his shoulder expecting a pie in his face. Lowe took the U.S. Army Rangers approach to pieing–attack when they least expect it. When Putz made it back to his locker, he thought he had all his bases covered to prevent a pieing. 

“You guys need to make a wall so no one can get in here,” Putz said to the media members circled around him.

It turns out the Great Wall of China couldn’t have stopped Lowe. He was already inside the circle, nestled nicely in the cozy confines of Putz’s locker behind his shirts. Lowe emerged as Putz was answering his first question. We missed you… so here is a pie to your face. Bam.

“Welcome back big guy,” Lowe said.

Pieing is a treat best served quickly, unexpected and with shaving cream right between the eyes. Whip cream would make too much sense and actually taste good.

Lannan eventually worked outside of the pitching rotation. If your reputation is the “pie person”… you might as well make it a reality.

“Once I took over as the pie guy I had to get Justin Maxwell,” Lannan said, “after he hit the walk-off grand slam in the final home game.”

Justin Maxwell… that was an amazing way to close out the season at Nationals Park. Bam.


justin maxwell pie 1.JPGHis pie days are by no means done, they might just be starting. There isn’t a hit list or wish list, just a few people he might be pieing soon… Stephen Strasburg.

“I am going to throw a 100 mph pie at his face,” Lannan said with a smile. “I am just kidding. Hopefully I get to pie him this year.”

30 Players in 30 Days: Justin Maxwell

Justin Maxwell

Justin Maxwell made waves in the DC-area long before he was on the Nationals. The Bethesda, Md., native was a standout at the University of Maryland and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft by the Washington Nationals. Since then, he has quickly ascended through the Nationals Minor League system.

Though hampered with a fractured wrist last season, Maxwell came back full force this season. The tall, speedy outfielder with strides like a gazelle stole 35 bases with the Triple-A Chiefs, good for fourth overall in the International League. He was the Syracuse Player of the Month in June when he hit six home runs, drove in 17 RBI, walked 20 times and scored 21 runs in 28 games. He was brought up to the Big Leagues three different times this year, the last being a September call-up. He has always impressed the club with his athletic ability and range in the outfield. On May 23 at Nationals Park, Maxwell made perhaps the finest catch in his career as he tracked a long line drive over 60 yards into right-center field, leapt up and reached over the wall to rob Baltimore’s Adam Jones of what would have been a first-inning home run.


Maxwell 1 c.JPGIn the final home game of the 2009 season–Fan Appreciation Day–Maxwell blasted a walk-off grand slam off of Francisco Rodriguez to lead the Nats to a 7-4 victory over the Mets. While he definitely ended the season with a bang, his hitting is the one facet he will focus on this offseason. He struck out 136 times in 111 games, good for seventh-most in the International League.

“He has done all the facets of the game,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He can play defense, run and throw. It’s a just a matter of consistently putting the bat on the ball.”

Maxwell has not been slowed down by last season’s injury and proved he can be a valuable asset for the Nationals. His athleticism and speed are great tools both on the basepaths and in the outfield. Next season, he will get the chance to prove himself again and will compete for a roster spot out of Spring Training.

Justin Maxwell Final Major League Stats

G

AB

R

H

TB

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

40

89

13

22

40

4

1

4

9

12

0

32

6

1

.247

.343

.449

.793

 

Justin Maxwell Final Minor League Stats

G

AB

R

H

TB

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

111

384

68

93

152

10

5

13

42

54

2

136

35

8

.242

.344

.396

.740

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