Results tagged ‘ Livan Hernandez ’

From the Desk of Mark D. Lerner: Checking in from Spring Training

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Hello, everyone.

Let me start by stating that things could not be better here in Viera. The weather is wonderful, the workouts are crisp and the results have been encouraging. Yes, a team’s Grapefruit League winning percentage can, at times, be misleading, but winning games is always better than the alternative.

Ian Desmond is off to a strong start this spring.

Ian Desmond is off to a strong start this spring.

Seven wins, four losses and a tie. But what is most encouraging is how Manager Matt Williams has them playing the game. I love the aggressive base running. Taking an extra base. How fantastic was it to see Danny Espinosa score from second base on Saturday on a dribbler back to the pitcher? This brand of baseball really is infectious.

Fifteen home runs in 12 games. Only five allowed. That’s a good ratio.

Strong offensive starts from stalwarts like Ian Desmond (.286, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Adam LaRoche (2 HR, 4 RBI), Wilson Ramos (.474, HR, 10 RBI) and Ryan Zimmerman (.389, HR, 2 RBI) among others.

And many of our young players are making their marks. Zach Walters is hitting .615 with four extra-base hits and five RBI. He is as hot as anyone. Brian Goodwin and Michael A. Taylor have each made memorable catches in the outfield. Matt Skole hit .357 and four of his five hits went for extra bases before he was assigned to Minor League camp earlier this week so that he can get additional at-bats.

  • I have not even mentioned the pitching. There truly are too many to name, but I’ll risk mentioning three standouts: Taylor Jordan (team-leading 11 strikeouts), Jerry Blevins (3.2 hitless innings) and A.J. Cole (6.2 scoreless innings).

    Taylor Jordan has performed exceptionally well in his first Major League camp.

    Taylor Jordan has performed exceptionally well in his first Major League camp.

  • Forgive me if I think it is 2005 all over again watching Jamey Carroll and Luis Ayala perform admirably as they battle for roster spots. Jamey’s approach at the plate (.333 OBP), base running and defensive versatility are all a real plus. Meanwhile, Luis can throw a strike whenever he needs to. He has that same veteran savvy gene our friend Livan Hernandez had during his playing days.
  • And Matt Williams? What’s not to like? Crisp, precise and purposeful baseball usually yields wins. I love what Matt brings to our dugout and clubhouse. I especially like how our team has taken to his aggressive nature.
  • I was pleased to see President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo sign Michael Gonzalez to a Minor League deal last weekend. Gonzalez was a big part of our bullpen’s success in 2012 and there are very few southpaw relievers who can match his experience in tight situations. Welcome back Michael!
  • I just counted. Only three of the club’s 18 errors have been committed by players who were “regulars” in Washington last season. And one of those miscues was charged to Mr. Perfect, Denard Span! Remember, Denard did not commit an error last season. As I have said before, he should have won a Gold Glove!
  • I’d like to thank all of our fans in Central Florida, but especially those from our local area on the Space Coast (Viera, Melbourne and Rockledge). The crowds for the Cardinals and Yankees games in the last week were the two largest we have ever enjoyed hosting.
  • As for our fans from back home, I’ve had quite a few friends remark upon arrival in Viera about the significant pockets of Nationals fans on their flights from DC to Orlando. It’s hard to ignore all the smiles and Curly W shirts, sweaters and hats. It is great to see so many of our fans catching on to just how special Spring Training is.

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!

From the Desk of Mark D. Lerner: Gearing Up For NatsFest

Hello, everybody.

Nationals Principal Owner Mark Lerner, right, along with President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo at NatsFest, 2013.

One of the Washington Nationals’ Principal Owners,  Mark Lerner, right, along with President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo at NatsFest, 2013.

I hope everyone is dealing well with this cold and wintry week here in the Nation’s Capital. When it gets cold like this, I usually calculate the days remaining until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training (21 days!). This week is a bit different as we are just hours away from NatsFest.

  • Just as a reminder, NatsFest is on Saturday, January 25, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. New venue. We hope you can join us. I am so excited to welcome Matt Williams and an impressive roster of players to DC. Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez, Tyler Clippard, et al. Come early, stay warm, talk baseball.
  • We are also expecting a special visit from arguably our most beloved Nationals alum, … Livan Hernandez. Livan, who threw the first pitch in the history of the Nationals, completed his 17-year big league career in 2012 with 178 wins, 44 of which came as a member of the Nationals. It will be fantastic to sit down and catch up with Livan.
  • Speaking of Livan, it will be fun to have another inaugural-season National in camp with us upon arrival in Viera. In case you missed it, we signed infielder Jamey Carroll earlier this month and he’ll be competing for a spot on Matt Williams’ bench. Jamey also played for the Expos, so he should have some interesting perspective on how far this organization has come as we enter our 10th season in Washington.
  • As we reach the late stages of the offseason, I think it is worth remembering that most of Mike Rizzo’s key moves came quite early: Doug Fister, Nate McLouth, Jerry Blevins. Mike and his crew are still hard at work searching for the right fits. Always looking to improve.
  • We recently signed four-year Player Development Contracts with both Triple-A Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg. Through the years, we have really valued our relationships with the Chiefs, Senators and their respective fan bases. There is a sense of organizational satisfaction in being able to establish roots in both Syracuse and Harrisburg.
  • I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Frank Ceresi, who passed away recently. For those that are not aware, Frank played an integral role in developing the art program that we collectively enjoy at Nationals Park. He was an enormous baseball/Nationals fan and he will be sorely missed.

I hope to see everyone on Saturday at NatsFest.

Mark

A Tale Of Two Cities

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Alright, alright, so we admit we’re not actually comparing Washington D.C. and Viera to London and Paris, even if Viera does sound vaguely French (it’s actually Slovak). Besides, in our scenario, it was the best of times for Nats fans in both cities. At 10:00 this morning, single game tickets went on sale for the most anticipated season in Nationals history, bringing fans out to the ballpark for the first time since last fall. Meanwhile, the Nationals played their best all-around game of the spring to date, shutting out the visiting Houston Astros by a count of 8-0.

First to D.C., where fans expressed their excitement for the beginning of the 2012 season. With the home opener just 34 days away, here’s what fans were saying as they waited in line to get their tickets:

Nationals fans line up at the box office in D.C. this morning to purchase single game tickets.

“I can’t wait to see all the talent come together.” – Andrew P.

“This is the most optimistic I’ve ever been.” – Rick P.

“This is the biggest year for D.C. baseball.” – Tommy V.

Needless to say, Nationals fans understand what is going on with this team right now. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up your tickets yet, make sure you hop online and grab them soon, especially for the big matchups with the Yankees and Phillies.

Now, back to Viera. They may have played together for a couple of seasons, but Livan Hernandez can’t be too happy with Ryan Zimmerman after today’s game. Not only did the Nationals third baseman take Livo deep in the first inning, he literally knocked him out of the game with a rocket comebacker off the veteran righty’s shin in the bottom of the third. After a short discussion with the training staff, Hernandez exited the game in favor of Lucas Harrell.

Zimmerman had a nice game, hitting the ball hard all three times at the plate. He singled home Anthony Rendon in his third and final plate appearance with a solid line drive to right field.

The Nationals piled on late in an 8-0 shutout of Houston on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson continued to impress in his second start of the spring, allowing just two ground ball singles in four shutout innings, striking out three. He has now tossed six scoreless frames – all against the Astros – allowing just three hits over that span. Ross Detwiler followed up by retiring all nine batters he faced, also striking out three.

The offense came alive as the game wore on, plating two runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the seventh. When the day was done, Washington had piled up its highest run total of the spring, while allowing just three hits in the shutout.

Off to Jupiter (the city, not the planet) tomorrow evening for our first look at the new Miami Marlins. Here are the Nationals results to date:

vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0

@ Houston – L, 3-1

vs. Houston – L, 10-2

@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1

@ Atlanta – W, 5-2

vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3

vs. Houston – W, 8-0

Overall Record: 3-2-1

From The Desk Of Mark Lerner – Bags in Hand

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Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2012 Grapefruit League Season from Viera, bringing his own unique perspective of the goings-on at Nats Spring Training.

Bags in hand, my wife Judy and I arrived yesterday evening in Florida.

This morning, I pulled into Space Coast Stadium very early. I was struck by the obviously warmer-than-DC temps, but honestly it was the optimism in the air that set this arrival apart from all my other spring visits.

Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson’s work began here almost two weeks ago. They officially put the pitchers and catchers through their paces for the first time on Feb. 21st. But, from all the reports I received from the ground, the vast majority of players reported to camp early and in great shape. It is obvious that their 2012 preparations had begun months earlier.

Games begin today at Space Coast Stadium, with an exhibition against Georgetown University.

Today at Noon, we host Georgetown University at Space Coast Stadium for the second time. What a great opportunity for the young Hoyas. I bet the memories of today’s contest last a lifetime. When this opportunity was raised to host the Hoyas, we accepted immediately. It was the perfect chance to give back and help grow, in our own small way, the game of baseball at the college level in the DC area.

As a baseball nut, I have always noticed some of the MLB-NCAA matchups at the beginning of the spring. Through the years, the Red Sox have often hosted Boston College and the same with the Marlins and the Miami Hurricanes.

I’m also excited that I’ll get to see Matt Purke pitch for the first time. For those of you who do not know, Matt was our fourth overall selection in last year’s Draft. A left-handed pitcher, Purke was a first-round pick the season prior by Texas, but chose to return to TCU for his sophomore season. I am anxious to see him in action, because he is quite talented, from what I understand.

Then on Saturday, the official Grapefruit League season begins with a road game against the Astros. In a true twist of fate, we will face Livan Hernandez, who signed with Houston in late January. I wanted to make sure that I crossed paths with Livan this spring. Not only is he an obvious favorite of mine to watch perform (it’s that changeup!), but I want to find him and thank him for his two terms of service with the Nationals. I don’t think any true Nationals fan will ever forget him. Livan threw our first pitch. He won more games than anyone in team history. And he did it with flair, charisma and most importantly, a smile on his face. I will truly miss him as a member of the Nats.

Until we next blog …

Dinner With Davey

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John Dever is the Senior Director of Media Relations for the Washington Nationals. As a team employee in close contact with the players, coaches and front office throughout Spring Training, he will bring an inside look at the happenings in Viera in Dever’s (Almost) Daily Diary throughout February and March.

Another beautiful day today, highs in the low 80s. Potentially 88 on Saturday for the Grapefruit League opener at Houston.

Busy day, so let’s get started …

*Davey Johnson has been asked many times in the last months months to list some similarities between Ryan Zimmerman and his former teammate, Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson. Davey’s answer ALWAYS starts with “they both have soft hands.”

*Enjoyed having Danny Knobler from CBSsports.com visit us this week. He wrote a piece yesterday about Bryce Harper and the Nationals eye toward winning. You can read the piece here.

To me the best part of the article is when Knobler, who covered the Tigers for years, asks Bryce about Al Kaline. Bryce then proceeds to ace his history test, letting Knobler in on a “secret” that I’d bet no current player in any camp outside of perhaps Lakeland knew. Kaline won a batting title at the age of 20! Bryce’s reverence for the game of baseball and its history is remarkable and rare, especially among modern players, many of which remember watching Cal Ripken as a kid playing third base for the Orioles.

Manager Davey Johnson has seen it all in the game of baseball.

*I had dinner with  Davey, Mike Rizzo, Harolyn Cardozo and Mike Gazda on Sunday night at Amici’s, which is located only about 2-3 miles from Space Coast Stadium. Great authentic Italian food, excellent hospitality and the company was even better. Around the middle of the meal, Mike Rizzo really got Davey going, so we all were privy to various stories about his ’86 Mets, Sadaharu Oh, Ted Williams and even John Havlicek, who is a good fishing buddy of his. Davey can spin a tale like few I have ever met, he has just a fantastic cadence that really draws the listener in. I wish I had that skill.

*On Saturday, the Nationals trek to Kissimmee for their Grapefruit League opener and will face the club’s all-time leader in wins (44) … our buddy and yours … Livan Hernandez! While it will be a tad strange to be on the other side of Livo’s arsenal of changeups, slurves and swingback fastballs, we cannot pretend this has not happened before. Between his two stints in DC, Livo pitched against the Nationals while repping the D-Backs, Rockies, Twins and Mets.

We are all excited for Livan and know that he will be an excellent resource, both on the rubber and in the clubhouse, for a young Astros ballclub.

*Well, MASN and our fans will see Stephen Strasburg and lefthander J.A. Happ square off on Sunday. After a long off-season, it’ll be great to see Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo back in Viera for MASN’s debut telecast of the season.

*Other pitching probables for the Nationals: Mon. at NYM (LHP John Lannan), Tue. at ATL (LHP Gio Gonzalez).

Nats look for sweep against the Cubs

After taking the series with last night’s win over Chicago, the Nationals have the opportunity to sweep the Cubs tonight. Matt Garza, a big offseason acquisition for the Cubs, will trade blows with veteran Livan Hernandez in what could be a pitcher’s duel.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

Cubs:

Kosuke Fukudome – RF

Starlin Castro – SS

Aramis Ramirez – 3B

Carlos Pena – 1B

Geovany Soto – C

Marlon Byrd – CF

Alfonso Soriano – LF

Darwin Barney – 2B

Matt Garza – P

Nationals:

Roger Bernadina – LF

Danny Espinosa – 2B

Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

Michael Morse – 1B

Jayson Werth – RF

Rick Ankiel – CF

Wilson Ramos – C

Ian Desmond – SS

Livan Hernandez – P

*Against the Cubs, Livo is 11-7 with a 4.16 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 22 games started.

*In his one career outing against the Nationals, Garza pitched 5.2 innings and allowed three earned runs over seven hits and four walks.

Memorial Day Lineups

Phillies:

Jimmy Rollins – SS

Placido Polanco – 3B

Chase Utley – 2B

Ryan Howard – 1B

Raul Ibanez – LF

Carlos Ruiz – C

Domonic Brown – RF

John Mayberry – CF

Roy Halladay – P

 Nationals:

Rick Ankiel – CF

Danny Espinosa – 2B

Jayson Werth – RF

Laynce Nix – LF

Michael Morse – 1B

Wilson Ramos – C

Jerry Hairston – 3B

Alex Cora – SS

Livan Hernandez – P

 *Against the Phillies, Livan Hernandez is 12-11 with a 3.59 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 29 games started. Roy Halladay has, so far in his career, handled the Nats well—today’s matchup could easily turn into a pitcher’s duel.

 *Former Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth knows how to handle his old team: he’s batted .279 with a .407 on-base percentage and .628 slugging percentage against them. He’s also hit four home runs off of Philly.

Day 8 in Viera: Position Players Join the Fray

Busiest day yet at Nationals camp as position players today
joined the fray.

 

* Have you ever wanted to work in baseball? If yes, let me
give you a bit of advice. If anyone ever offers you the job of coordinating a
Spring Training camp, say “no way” and run in the opposite direction. How tough
is that gig? I have heard the two toughest jobs in the game are being the
Rockies’ pitching coach before the advent of the baseball humidor and being a
Spring Training coordinator. That’s why today I would like to give kudos to
Bobby Henley, who doubles as our Minor League Field Coordinator. Henley is a
heck of a guy with a deep-rooted passion for the game of baseball and how it
should be played. If you or your place of business ever needs of motivator,
this is your guy. I have heard him speak to the young Instructional Leaguers
and by the time he was finished, I was ready to run through the wall and I am
just the PR guy. Henley has taken the unenviable task of plotting, planning and
orchestrating the movements from drill to drill. He has to enact the vision
that Jim Riggleman lays out for these two weeks leading into games. Henley does
it well and he is a pleasure to deal with. But remember, you do NOT want his
job.

 

* Crazy but true fact of the week… this is Livan Hernandez’s
10th Spring Camp in Viera, Fla. Yes, 10! Here’s a list of the springs that
Hernandez spent in Viera and with what teams: Marlins (1996, ’97, ’98, ’99),
Expos (2003, ’04), Nationals (2005, ’06, ’10 and ’11). Is he eligible to run
for Mayor?

 

* With an abundance of young players trying to make their
mark and earn a coveted roster spot, one player that the next generation
Nationals can draw inspiration from is Chad Gaudin. Gaudin was drafted in June
2001 by Tampa Bay and debuted with the (then) Devil Rays just 26 months later.
What’s the big deal you ask? Well, Chad was a 34
th-round draft pick out
of Crescent High in Metairie, La. So, he debuted in the Big Leagues, as an
unheralded 34
th-rounder, at the age of 20. That
is a rare, rare story.

 

* Interesting fundamental drill of the day: 3B coach Bo
Porter is the Nationals’ primary outfield instructor. He had Jayson Werth,
Nyjer Morgan, Bryce Harper and others chasing long fly balls today while
carrying a football! I missed speaking to Porter after the workout, but I think
the drill’s objective is to keep an outfielder’s core as motionless as possible
while pursuing those long fly balls. Porter’s a fantastic instructor and a
great addition to Jim Riggleman’s staff. He definitely knows football too. He
was a two-sport (baseball, football) athlete at the University of Iowa, where
he was Hayden Fry’s starting cornerback in the 1992 Rose Bowl.

 

* Fans on hand today also spied the first live batting
practice of the spring. Yes, pitchers actually threw to hitters. Most hitters
do a bunch of watching, in fact, Jayson Werth indicated he may not have swung
at all. Conversely, Matt Stairs swung and went deep during his live BP.

 

Storen_CWL_022211.jpg

* Book Club: Stanford
alum Drew Storen is currently reading “
Scorecasting,” which is written by University of Chicago financial economist Tobias Moskowitz
and Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim. Together, they attempt to
unearth “the hidden forces that shape how basketball, baseball, football, and
hockey games are played, won and lost.” Sounds like an intriguing read.

 

* Let’s close with our “4 Questions” segment. Today’s victim
was pitcher Tom Gorzelanny:

 

Favorite Team/Player
as a Youth?:

White Sox, Ken Griffey Jr. (Huh? He played for the Cubs last year, wonder how
that little nugget was received in the Windy City
)

Favorite Game Show of all-time?: Wheel of Fortune (who doesn’t love
Vanna?
)

Favorite Superhero?: Batman (interesting answer from a pitcher, don’t you think?)

Most apt to watch CNN, Food Network or Travel Channel (and list favorite
show)?:

None of the above. I am much more likely to be checking The History Channel and
looking for a show on the government (CIA, Secret Service, etc.) or war
history.

 

* Again, I’d like to acknowledge the multiple contributions
of my PR confidants, Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna. And as a reminder, we are
anxiously awaiting the return of Mark Lerner to the blogging airwaves. Look for
Mark to reemerge on Mon., Feb. 28.

 

We’ll be back tomorrow with more. Cannot wait.

Day 5 in Viera: Defensive Versatility a Key in 2011

Happy
weekend to everyone, well except to the Nationals’ players and coaches. As we
all know, weekends don’t exist in baseball, so our pitchers and catchers were
back at it this morning under beautiful sunny skies in Viera. The high is
supposed to be 74 today. Very little wind, which is unusual for this area. I
know I am a bit redundant with my weather comments, but I hope everyone
understands that this has been the best February weather I have ever
experienced down here. It has been perfect. I am also hoping that this entices
all our fans from in/around DC to cut their winters short and visit us in the
Grapefruit League for a week or so. You won’t regret it.

Once
again, my name is John Dever and I am the PR Director for your Nationals. I
have a pair of fine gentlemen, Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna, that I work closely
with and we are sharing some of our top Nationals-centric observations with you
in hopes of revving up your engines for the upcoming season. On Mon., Feb. 28,
we will pass the blogging baton to Mark Lerner, who will share his unique
thoughts about the Nationals’ 2011 Grapefruit League efforts.

Here
are some of our Saturday-morning observations:

*
New arrivals today included Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Chris Marrero. Hairston is
going to be interesting to watch. This guy can play everywhere at anytime. In
the midst of a pennant race, Hairston served as the Padres’ regular shortstop
for much of the second half of 2010 as Everth Cabrera dealt with injuries. From
what I have gathered, and what O’s fans might recollect, Hairston’s best
position is second base. But don’t be shocked to see him playing a bit of
center field too. Hairston is going to be a very valuable player for Jim
Riggleman. I think this was one of Mike Rizzo’s most underrated signings of the
offseason.

*
Speaking of shortstop, it appears like Jim Riggleman might be using the
3-shortstop defensive alignment quite a bit this summer. What? Well, think
about it. First of all, Ian Desmond is a young shortstop. And a darn good one.
Then you have his pivoting partner, Danny Espinosa, the latest in a long line
of Long Beach State shortstops (Crosby, Tulowitzki, Longoria). Yes, he’ll be
playing second base this season in Washington, but he had only played shortstop
as a pro until being summoned to Syracuse last summer. And then we have this
guy named Ryan Zimmerman. You may have heard of him. Zimmerman played quite a
bit of shortstop at UVA before being drafted fourth overall in 2005. The
established presence of Mark Reynolds at UVA forced Zimmerman, then a freshman
(or a First Year as they like to say in Charlottesville), to shift over. And
let’s remember, Zimmerman has played a part in a handful of 4-5-3 or 6-5-3 GDPs
during his Big League career. He knows his way around the second-base bag. So,
keep Adam LaRoche and the 3-shortstop defense in the back of your minds this
summer at Nationals Park.

*
You might be surprised as to who the biggest NBA fan is among Nationals. How
long would it take you to guess Livan Hernandez? True story. Hernandez watches
games on ESPN, TBS and TNT all the time. This guy knows what is happening in
the Association. He plans to get up to an Orlando Magic game in the coming
weeks. But tonight, Hernandez is jacked about the dunk contest. He is hardly
the only one excited to see Blake Griffin tonight, but let’s remember that
JaVale McGee will represent the Wizards too. Here’s hoping McGee can do some
damage and represent The District.

*
Pudge Rodriguez is suddenly very into MLB’s First-Year Player Draft, and it has
nothing to do with the impending arrival of Bryce Harper to camp. Rather, Pudge
is interested to see how his son Ivan Dereck fares, as he is in his
draft-eligible season. Ivan Dereck is a center fielder and he is a wiry-strong
6-foot-2. He also closes games for Monsignor Pace (FL) High in Miami
Gardens (same HS from which Chris Marrero was drafted). Pudge says Ivan Dereck
can throw 90-92 mph, but his bat is too good to waste, so he sees him as a
center fielder. Ivan Dereck will be one to watch as we get into early June.

*
Book Club Note of the Day: DC-resident Josh Wilkie, the pride of George
Washington University, really enjoyed reading The Help, by Kathryn Stockett,
during the offseason. You can read more about The Help here.
Josh recently started reading Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton (no relation to
the former Nationals lefthander). Here is Stanton’s website.

We’ll be back at it tomorrow afternoon as we watch the final position
players trickle in. Enjoy your weekend everyone!

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