Results tagged ‘ Mark Lerner ’
Hello again Nats fans,
I hope everyone is well and enjoying the season thus far.
I’d like to start with last weekend’s crowds at ‘NATITUDE Park.’ I am very proud to say that over 100,000 were in attendance for the three-game set against the rival Philadelphia Phillies. D.C. baseball fans left little doubt that they take their baseball seriously. Taking two of three from the Phillies is always welcome, but to do so in front of back-to-back-to-back large crowds made the weekend memorable for all.
Being a part of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball was a thrill for all of us. It was our first ESPN Sunday Night game since Nationals Park opened on March 30, 2008. Everything looked fantastic, as usual, in HD and the entire atmosphere was electric.
How about Bryce’s steal of home on Sunday? Not only won’t that moment be forgotten, it’s likely to be talked about with reverence for years to come. I have had friends tell me this week that the swipe was Bryce’s “arrival” on a national stage.
I know that Jayson Werth and Bo Porter both had a hand in educating Bryce on Cole Hamels’ pickoff tendencies. That was a true team effort. All in all, everything about last weekend went perfectly, Sunday’s result and especially Jayson’s wrist injury notwithstanding.
As I write this, the Nationals are caught in a three-game losing streak. The bats have been a tad flat, but that should be temporary, especially with Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche now back in the lineup. And Mike Rizzo tells me that Michael Morse and his Beast Mode are progressing quite well. We can really use that jolt in the middle of the lineup.
I’d also like to recognize the strong play of LaRoche thus far. He’s leading the club in the Triple Crown categories: a .316 batting average, five homers and 19 RBI. After an injured left shoulder hindered his play last season, I am glad to he is back this season and playing at the levels he expects for himself. Rizzo calls Adam a two-way player. In my mind, he is a three-way player, as there is also no finer gentleman or community advocate in our clubhouse.
Adam’s homer in the ninth inning on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh was the 1,000th home run hit by the Nationals since arriving in Washington in 2005. I remember being at the Nationals first game in Philadelphia and watching Terrmel Sledge launch our first homer at Citizens Bank Park. Why does that initial game in April of 2005 seem like such a long time ago? And at the same time, why does it seem like yesterday? I suppose that is the nature of this game.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the continued excellence of Steve McCatty’s starting rotation. Collectively, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler are the best rotation in the game right now. I don’t think anyone can objectively argue this point. Consider, in 16 the last games, the rotation has posted 15 quality starts and allowed one run or less 8 times. That’s sustained dominance.
Tonight, Strasburg takes the mound at PNC Park. Here’s to this three-game slide being temporary!
The NHL playoffs, and the Capitals series with the New York Rangers, also have my attention.
Game 6 was really something last night. I attended the game with Drew Storen as my guest. Drew along with many of his teammates, are really enjoying the Caps and their march through the Eastern Conference. Incidentally, Drew’s elbow is feeling fantastic and he is very anxious to get back on the mound.
As for the game, Ovechkin’s early goal really set the stage for loud evening at the Verizon Center. In between the pipes, Braden Holtby played with a grace and poise well beyond his years. He’s been just fantastic.
After further review, I just noted that the Nationals play in Cincinnati on Sat. at 7:05 p.m. And the Caps play Game 7 that same night at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m.
Nearly simultaneous starts, again? That’s two straight weekends! Not that I am counting!
We will start at our homestand Monday night against the San Diego Padres. Please come out and support the team. They are playing great ball and as we all know they are fun to watch.
Let’s go Caps!
Let’s go Nats!
Please enjoy the weekend and Happy Mother’s Day!
Hello again Nationals fans,
As I talked about in my last blog, Dodger Stadium is one of the iconic venues in all of sports, and it is fitting that a 19 year-old kid from Las Vegas will be making his much-anticipated big league entrance on this stage.
As “Hollywood” as this script seems, this was not how it was supposed to happen. Sure, the scenic backdrop, the 50,000-plus fans and the A-list celebs will be fantastic for the history books, but Bryce is here tonight on someone else’s terms.
Unfortunately, Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder soreness has prompted a DL stint. Thankfully, this won’t be a prolonged absence for Ryan, but it does leave an immediate void in Davey’s lineup.
So, Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson talked. And they talked again. Ultimately, it was determined that they needed another left-handed bat in the lineup, and an outfielder if possible.
So, Mike went to chilly, Rochester, NY and watched Bryce play three games. He saw enough to know that this is what he had to do. He diverted from his plan. But how many of us see our best laid plans executed exactly as we scripted? Not nearly enough. That’s just reality.
So, when Mike called me yesterday with the news that he planned to recall Bryce on Saturday, I was taken aback. Like most, I did not see this happening so quickly.
Mike told me that Bryce was the best fit for what Davey needed, especially with Zimmerman and Michael Morse on the shelf.
He also told me that Bryce’s development plan is still not finished. There is a good chance that he’ll need more time, more reps and more at-bats at Triple-A. But that is a discussion for another day.
Bryce should not be seen as a panacea. He’s not our run-production savior. That would be unfair.
But Mike does think – and I agree – that Bryce can provide our roster a healthy jolt.
So, let’s see what he can do. Let’s dig deeper than his batting average, his power output and instead keep our eyes open for his total game – the base running, the defense, the throwing arm. Let’s resist the urge to make grand conclusions based on ridiculously small sample sizes.
But, at the same time, let’s have fun. On a personal level, I am thrilled that I am in Los Angeles and will be at Dodger Stadium tonight.
It all starts for Bryce tonight, fittingly in Tinseltown.
The first page of what we believe will be a special Hollywood script.
Up goes the curtain: it’s time to enjoy the show.
Hello Nationals Fans,
Is everyone counting backwards, like I am? Only three days until the April 5, 2012 Season Opener on Chicago’s north side.
But before we indulge ourselves with grandiose visions of Wrigley Field, Opening Week and of course our April 12 home opener against the Reds, I also want to mention how happy I am personally – as is my entire family – for our dear friend Stan Kasten, who along with Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners, agreed to purchase the Dodgers last week.
Upon getting word that this transaction was going through, I immediately called Stan, who was in New York signing the first wave of legal documents. He was elated and for good reason. Stan in Hollywood…a PERFECT match!
The Dodgers are a crown-jewel franchise with a special place historically in our game. Baseball is a better sport when the Dodgers are prominent. I am looking forward to seeing Stan – and hopefully meeting Magic – when we head west to Los Angeles to visit one of my favorite places in baseball, Dodger Stadium, starting on April 27.
Now, let’s put a wrap on the ‘12 Grapefruit League season, Davey Johnson’s first camp as Manager of the Nats.
Remember, Davey is a baseball lifer whose baseball life began as a Spring Training bat boy with our Senators in the early 1950′s. He had a vision and by spring’s end, I think it is safe to say this was the most competitive camp in Nationals history. And that competition stemmed largely from the strongest crop of minor leaguers we’ve ever had.
Davey knows that everything great in this game starts in Spring Training. Sure, there were some bumps along the way, and perhaps a few more injuries than we’d like to see. Prominent players like Michael Morse, Drew Storen, Chien-Ming Wang, Adam LaRoche and Rick Ankiel have all been a little banged up. But, the way I see it, better now than in May or June, right?
At the end of the day, a lot did go right. Easily, the best news of the spring came on Feb. 26 as the Nationals signed Ryan Zimmerman to a long-term contract extension. Ryan’s playing abilities are obvious, but he is also a true gentleman.
There is wonderful symmetry in knowing that the first draft selection (2005) in the history of the Nationals will be playing in D.C. for a long time, perhaps his entire career. There are just not enough star athletes that stay with one club, in one town, their entire careers.
The games started on March 2 with a 3-0 victory over D.C.’s own Georgetown University. Even with the loss, the young Hoyas were provided with a challenge and thrill they will never forget.
Rick Ankiel got his spring off to a great start as he hit an opposite-field homer against the Mets in his hometown of Port St. Lucie. I know it must have been gratifying for him to perform in front of family, friends and some of his former high school teachers and coaches.
Even though he will start the season in Syracuse, Corey Brown seemed to emerge from an injury-riddled 2011 season with a strong spring showing (.318, one homer, 4 RBI in 10 games). I bet he continues his good play in Syracuse.
Mark DeRosa showed everyone that his wrist was healthy, hitting .400+ for the spring. He also (jokingly) claims he set a Grapefruit League record with 10 walks in less than 50 plate appearances. I don’t know about that, but he was on base 2-3 times a game. He is going to be a real weapon for Davey.
Bryce Harper performed well on the field, but a minor injury temporarily slowed his momentum. That said, he showed all of the maturity needed to excel off the field. He managed loads of media requests and was always ready to play, the calf injury notwithstanding.
Bryce handled his option to Syracuse with true class, but at the same moment, he was charged up by Davey’s challenge to play center field. I have a feeling we will be seeing Bryce in D.C. in the not-too-distant future.
This spring, we enjoyed meeting Gio Gonzalez and watching him perform in our uniform for the first time. That curveball will be something I look forward to seeing once every five days for a long time to come. And the remainder of his repertoire was not too shabby either.
Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson will round out one of the hardest-throwing staffs in baseball. Both are quiet, both are competitors. Both are healthy and slot quite nicely into our rotation. And let’s not forget John Lannan who pitched very well this spring and Chien-Ming Wang, who was throwing so well prior to his hamstring injury. He is recovering nicely and will be another major piece for us as the season goes on.
And how about our bullpen? They picked up where they left off last season and now we have added Brad Lidge, one of the most accomplished relievers in the game today. I’d also like to note just how well Henry Rodriguez pitched. He was consistently outstanding from Day 1 of camp.
With all that said, I think the best sight of all this spring was Wilson Ramos behind the plate. I know how excited I was in seeing him for the first time, so I can only wonder how emotionally taxing his first week of camp was. There is something about the atmosphere created by teammates in a clubhouse setting. Wilson is back where he belongs, with us and in a Nationals uniform, safe and sound.
I sense Mike Rizzo’s off-season acquisitions, Davey’s confidence, and the unusually warm temps this spring have generated a strong buzz for Nationals baseball in D.C.
A strong start in April would certainly help the equation, but I keep reminding myself that it is a long season.
Thanks for your continued support Nats fans. Let’s play ball! It is finally time.
I’ll look forward to seeing everyone all season long at beautiful and picturesque Nationals Park.
Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day storylines, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.
After enjoying their lone off day of the spring, the Nationals headed back to the Grapefruit League home of the Mets, where they were greeted with a New York welcome. We listened to the pulse of the fans, and brought you a full report on up-and-comer Michael Taylor.
Back in Washington, Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner accepted a major award on behalf of the organization. Meanwhile, in Jupiter, Gio Gonzalez saw his sparkling start washed away and only his disappointing one counted against his stat line, but kept everything in perspective. When the Nationals traveled to Sarasota to face their Beltway rivals, we witnessed possible mascot cannibalism and had a celebrity sighting, but still no fortune for Washington.
After enduring an 11-game winless streak, manager Davey Johnson put the situation in context, but also showed his sense of humor. “I don’t want (our guys) peaking too early,” Johnson said, then quipped, “they’re not.”
The team finally broke out of its slump in a big way with a 12-0 thrashing of the Mets behind Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals hit three first-inning home runs, including one by Jayson Werth that hit a palm tree and landed in his own truck.
Record for the week: 1-5
Few professional sports teams are as involved with their communities as the Washington Nationals are with the U.S. Military. That commitment to our nation’s armed forces extends beyond the In-Game Military salute at each home game, also including the Me and a Friend Program, the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team and team visits to military hospitals.
On Thursday night, the USO of Metropolitan Washington (USO-Metro) recognized the club for its efforts with a very special award at its 30th Annual Awards Dinner. The event – which featured a black tie dress code for civilians and full formal dress for all military members – was held at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Arlington, and featured high-ranking officials from both the military and the private sector. More than 500 guests in all packed the sold-out gala, which helped raise more than $630,000 for USO-Metro.
The Nationals were well represented at this special event, which also marked the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. Screech and the Racing Presidents were present, and each place setting featured a baseball with the date of the gala as well as both the USO logo and the familiar Curly W. The Lerner family was in attendance, not only to commemorate the occasion but also to accept the Bob Hope Legacy Award, named after the legendary entertainer for all he did for America’s military.
Nationals Principal Owner and Vice Chairman Mark D. Lerner accepted the award on behalf of both the Lerner family and the entire Nationals organization. He shared the following words of gratitude with those in attendance upon receiving the honor:
Thank you everyone. On behalf of the Washington Nationals organization and the entire Lerner family, I’d like to thank the USO of Metropolitan Washington for recognizing our team with this year’s Legacy of Hope Award.
My parents Annette and Ted Lerner grew up in the D.C. area, and my sisters Marla Tanenbaum and Debra Cohen and I were raised here. It’s impossible to live here and not be aware of the sizeable contributions made by our military members and their families. Few of us can ever comprehend how much each service-member – as well as their wives, husbands, children and parents – sacrifice in order to serve our country.
As the stewards of the national pastime in the Nation’s Capital, we believe that making a difference in the lives of the men and women who fight for our country is one of the most fulfilling things we can do, and we are always looking for new ways to pay tribute and support them and their families.
Bob Hope’s generosity and dedication was legendary. I’m pleased that the Nationals can – in whatever small way – continue his tradition and hopefully inspire future generations to support our service men and women.
I am humbled to be among so many Medal of Honor recipients and their families here tonight – and, on behalf of my family and the Washington Nationals, I want to thank you once again for your service.
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.
Good Afternoon Nats Fans:
On Monday afternoon, I took in Chien-Ming Wang’s 2012 debut, as he participated in the first intra-squad game of the spring over at our Minor League Complex. This contest was part of our Accelerated Development Program, which consists of our best and brightest prospects.
As many of you know, we have invested a lot of time and energy the last five years in building our minor league system from the ground up. Being named the No. 1 system last month by Baseball America was really a great accomplishment and a benchmark of how far our organization has come along.
There is definitely a different energy and expectation this Spring Training. If the 2011 season was about promise, then 2012 should be about performance. This Nationals team believes it’s ready to win and expects to win.
Both GM Mike Rizzo and Manager Davey Johnson say this team should be playing meaningful games in September. This is the season our loyal fans have been waiting for.
As I glanced around the diamond yesterday, I noticed various names I had heard previously (and some I’d seen) during brief visits to Hagerstown, Potomac and Harrisburg.
Names like Jeff Kobernus, Blake Kelso and Matt Skole are familiar to me, as are their games. Same with Michael Taylor and Destin Hood, who are two of our finest outfield prospects. All were scattered around the field. But I was especially interested in two players in particular: Chien-Ming Wang and Brian Goodwin, one of our top picks in the 2011 draft. As fate would have it, they squared off to start the game.
Score one for the youngster, as Goodwin put a nice swing on Wang offering and legged out a leadoff double.
Wang did not disappoint either, as he fanned 3 in 2.0 innings. He allowed one run on three hits, throwing 31 pitches, 24 for strikes. But his fastball sat consistently at 89-90 and hit 91 on occasion. What’s more, Davey and Mike were pleased. They both liked how strong he was right out of the chute. Last year, in his first 5-6 starts with us, Wang took an inning or two to really get loose and transfer that strength into his pitches. No so yesterday. He was strong right from the start. That’s why Goodwin’s double was impressive. It came on a good pitch.
As an aside… I also saw pitcher Alex Meyer our second pick in the first round last year out of Kentucky on another field. He is one large man at 6’9”.
Last night’s game in Port St. Lucie resulted in our first win of the Grapefruit League season, a 3-1 victory over the Mets. Rick Ankiel, the pride of Port St. Lucie High School, went deep to provide his home crowd, including a few former teachers and administrators, a great moment. John Lannan (one earned run in 3.0 innings) also pitched very well in his Grapefruit League debut. Bryce Harper and Eury Perez also continue to look great.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank my dear friend, Ted Leonsis, for the kind words he wrote yesterday in his blog regards to our new “Natitude” marketing campaign.
I know how much Ted enjoys baseball and is excited for our season ahead. Likewise, I have an eye on our Capitals and their playoff pursuits. I am thinking that their best hockey is yet to come. I know if I were a Bruins or Rangers fan that I would not relish facing the Caps in the first round.
I am off to Disney’s Wide World of Sports for today’s game against the Braves. But the real draw is that Gio Gonzalez will be making his Spring Training and Nationals debut. It will be a thrill to see our 26-year-old southpaw finally take the mound wearing our Nationals red, white and blue.
Trust me on this one… Nats fans are going to fall in love with this young man.
Until we blog again.
Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday morning of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day storylines, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.
Spring Training began as Nationals pitchers and catchers reported to Viera. Although the official position player report date was not until midweek, most players were in camp several days early. Senior Director of Media Relations John Dever began his (almost) daily musings on the notable events each day in Spring Training. Anthony Rendon stopped by to showcase his sweet swing and chat for a few minutes about his first big league camp.
We enjoyed a visit from ESPN on campus at Space Coast Stadium, and were even able to snag an interview with Tim Kurkjian about his outlook on the team. Also, a rocket launched from the nearby Kennedy Space Center.
The Nationals proudly hosted the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team for a couple days of practice in advance of their April 3 game at Nationals Park (following the Nationals-Red Sox exhibition).
The franchise’s first-ever draft pick and everyday third baseman since the end of the 2005 season, Ryan Zimmerman signed an extension that will keep him in a Nationals uniform through at least the 2019 season, with an option for 2020. Both Dever and Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner opined their perspectives of the signing.
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.
Good afternoon Nats Fans,
I’m packing my bags today to head down to Viera and Space Coast Stadium in a few days for what I think will be one of the most competitive and interesting training camps in baseball over the next few weeks. Honestly, I wish I left a week ago to get down there. I am ready for some baseball.
The competition to make the 25-man roster, the starting lineup, and especially the five-man rotation will be exciting. The fact that just about everyone showed up early this spring is a good indication of how eager they all are to impress Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson. I’ll also be interested to see the smaller, more condensed and personalized camp, which includes 54 players.
I’m also looking forward to congratulating Ryan Zimmerman face-to-face on his contract extension. He is a special person, a fan favorite, and certainly a guy for whom I have great respect. Ryan and I traded text messages early Sunday morning after Mike Rizzo told me the negotiations were completed late Saturday night. I told him how excited I was personally that he has the chance to wear his hometown Washington Nationals jersey for – what all Nats fans would love to see – the rest of his career.
I would have enjoyed being a fly on the wall when Ryan made a call to his mom and dad telling them the contract negotiations had been finalized. I know he has always hoped that he could continue to play in front of his family and friends, and I know his parents, Keith and Cheryl, are thrilled.
I can tell you from behind the scenes that Ryan’s first priority in extending his contract was the ability to see his job through. He has been the cornerstone of our building plan in Washington, and we believe will be an even more important one in the team’s leap to being a contender. In the next few years, we should see our planning begin to pay off, and Ryan’s leadership and performance will be critical to it.
Hats off to Ryan, his family, his agent, to Mike Rizzo and his staff, and to Nationals fans everywhere.
Ryan’s extended contract means we will all see him in the Nationals lineup, where he belongs, for a very long time.
An update from the 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas, from the desk of Mark D. Lerner, Nationals Principal Owner:
Day 2 is in the books …
* I have sat in on most of Mike Rizzo’s internal meetings and things continue to progress. Tuesday’s various chats, both on the free agent and trade fronts, were more concrete than Monday’s. Mike is exploring every avenue possible, but remember – it takes two to tango.
* One thing I know that Mike is NOT concerned about is leaving Dallas without consummating a deal. If a trade or signing happens here, well that is fantastic. But sometimes these meetings set the stage for something to happen next week, next month or even next year.
One of Mike’s challenges is that he is being asked more and more about our young talent. Some of that talent has already reached D.C., while some if it continues to develop in our farm system. Keep in mind how much our talent has matured over the past few years. So I think it is fair to say Mike’s call volume is higher than ever.
*Tuesday night marked our annual Minor League Affiliates Reception. It is always fun to see our extended family from Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown, Auburn and Viera (GCL) and reaffirm to them just how much they are part of our maturation as a franchise.
Twenty-five years from now, Bryce Harper will remember Hagerstown. And he’ll remember his first post-season race as a pro, which took place this August in Harrisburg. Tommy Milone will be able to cite chapter and verse his 12-win campaign with Potomac in 2009. These smaller towns provide the backdrop for the game’s development, and the support and structure provided by the various front offices is not taken for granted, especially at Nationals Park. Thanks you Chiefs. Thank you Senators. Thank you P-Nats. Thank you Suns. Thank you Doubledays. Thank you GCL Nationals!
* One thing I have noticed is the collective glow emanating from our game. In my mind, it dates back to the last night of the regular season and carried on through one of the best World Series ever. Then it culminated in the signing of a new CBA just prior to Thanksgiving. It is a good time to be a baseball fan. More specifically, an even better time to be a Nationals fan! We cannot wait to begin making our own October memories in the years to come.
Welcome to Hot Stove season, Nationals fans!
With Winter Meetings taking place next week, baseball is back in the headlines as fans eagerly await news of who will be the latest players to don the Curly W. Here’s your chance to join in on the action and get some inside information straight from the Nationals Executive contingent in Dallas! You can submit your questions in the comments below, by email at CurlyW@nationals.com, or via Facebook and Twitter (include #NatsQnA with your question). Check back here on Wednesday, December 7 to see what the execs have to say!