Results tagged ‘ Mike Rizzo ’

Nationals select eight players on second day of MLB’s 2015 Draft

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by Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals selected eight players on the second day of Major League Baseball’s 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

Assistant General Manager & Vice President of Scouting Operations Kris Kline said the Nationals are always focused on taking the best player available in the draft.

“Once we got past the first group there, we tried to focus on some pitching. We got two or three quality left-handed arms,” Kline said. “We are always trying to take the best player available and obviously money is a factor at this point and we have to be careful with that, and that’s kind of how it played out this year. We’re very excited about it through.”

The Nationals kicked off the action by selecting outfielder Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt University) with their third-round pick (103rd overall).  During the regular season, Wiseman ranked among Southeastern Conference hitters in runs scored (2nd, 66), total bases (4th, 149), walks (T6th, 39), home runs (T6th, 14) slugging percentage (8th, .567), hits (9th 83) and triples (10th, 4). His .318 batting average ranks second on the club and his 14 home runs are tied for second.

Omaha, NE - JUNE 24:  Rhett Wiseman #8 of the Vanderbilt Commodores singles against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first inning during game two of the College World Series Championship Series on June 24, 2014 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Omaha, NE – JUNE 24: Rhett Wiseman #8 of the Vanderbilt Commodores singles against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first inning during game two of the College World Series Championship Series on June 24, 2014 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

In the fourth round, the Nationals selected right-handed pitcher Mariano Rivera Jr., the son of former Major League great Mariano Rivera. Rivera Jr. went 5-7 with a team-leading 2.65 ERA (25 ER/85.0 IP) in 14 games (14 starts) for Iona College. He was named 2015 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Pitcher of the Year after leading the league with 113 strikeouts and posting a 1.81 ERA in conference play.

“I really like this kid and our scout John Malzone, he tracked him a lot this year,” said Washington’s National Crosschecker, Jeff Zona. “He sits mid-90s with his fastball with a power 80 mile per hour curveball. It was very impressive. He was one of my favorites and I think we got a good one.”

rivera

As expected, Rivera Jr., has garnered much attention for being the son of one of the greatest closers in Major League Baseball history. “As scouts, anytime we go watch a kid that has Major League bloodlines – you look at the Boone family – there is something to be said for that,” Kline said. “It is a positive thing and the fact that Mariano’s kid is as good as he is right now, I’m sure his father had a lot to do with that. He has the genes. He’s not a tall kid, but he’s got big shoulders, long arms, big hands and that really helps as far as the durability for that size. His stuff is above average to well above average at times.”

The Nationals selected lefthander Taylor Hearn out of Oklahoma Baptist University with their fifth round pick. Hearn went 9-0 with a 3.50 ERA in 15 games/13 starts in 2015. He struck out 71 batters in 64.1 innings pitched. His nine wins ranked tied for third in the Sooner Athletic Conference and his 71 strikeouts were good for tenth.

In the sixth round, the Nationals selected the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Pitcher of the Year, Matt Crownover, a left-handed pitcher out of Clemson (SC) University. He led the ACC in wins (10), ranked second in ERA (1.82), and was third in strikeouts (108).

On Crownover, Kline said: “He ended up being the ACC Pitcher of the Year and his numbers for his career are outstanding. In the end, as a professional, you’re probably looking at a four or five starter or possibly a bullpen guy that can fill multiple roles. The stuff is good – up to 92 mph – with solid secondary stuff. He really knows how to pitch.”

The Nationals selected Nicholls (LA) State University left-handed pitcher Grant Borne with their seventh round pick. Borne led the Southland Conference with a 1.39 ERA and ranked fourth in the league in strikeouts (93). He went 6-5 in 15 starts.

In the eighth round, the Nationals selected Oklahoma State reliever Koda Glover. The right-handed Glover posted a 1.90 ERA (5 ER/23.2 IP) in 23 appearances out of the bullpen in 2015. He struck out 28 against just seven walks.

Washington selected the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, University of Illinois first baseman David Kerian in the ninth round. At the time of the announcement, Kerian led the Big Ten in average (.383), home runs (13), slugging percentage (.661) & on-base percentage (.467).

Kline on Kerian: “He’s a switch hitter with an advanced approach to hitting, and area scout Steve Arnieri spent a lot of hours with this kid. Steve was really excited about this kid. He ended up being the Big Ten Player of the Year.”

In the tenth and final round of the day, the Nationals selected Taylor Guilbeau out of the University of Alabama. Guilbeau went 3-6 wth a 3.69 ERA in 15 starts during his senior season at Alabama.

Over the first two days of the three-day Draft, the Nationals have selected a total of ten players: two right-handed pitchers, four left-handed pitchers, three outfielders and one infielder. Of Washington’s ten selections, one came from the high school ranks and nine from four-year universities.

 

Daily Wrap: Live BP gets underway, SportsCenter visits Nationals camp & more

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by Amanda Comak

VIERA, Fla. — It was a very busy day here at Nationals camp as Photo Day overtook the morning, and the first live batting practice session of the Spring overtook the afternoon. All the while, ESPN’s SportsCenter was broadcasting live from the Nationals’ workout with sit-down interviews with Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Rizzo and Drew Storen, along with Matt Williams and Ryan Zimmerman.

News of the Day: Live Batting Practice sessions commence

It’s usually about this time of the spring when bullpens and fielding drills leave everyone wanting a little bit more. And that’s when live batting practice arrives. Live BP, while still practice for everyone, does usually provide a bit more in the way of entertainment and evaluation. The pitchers are always ahead of the hitters, but it’s good for both to see one another on opposite ends once again.

The highlight on Sunday was Max Scherzer throwing his first live batting practice as a member of the Nationals.

Scherzer looked sharp, though few Nationals hitters offered at his pitches as it was their first time seeing live pitching in quite some time. He did, however, entertain.

After finishing his bullpen warm-up, Scherzer and Nationals Manager Matt Williams removed their caps and hummed the Star Spangled Banner. Then Scherzer got to work.

“It’s part of Max’s thing,” Williams said later Sunday afternoon. “He always takes that break for the national anthem when he prepares to start a game. He wanted to take the break, so we hummed it for him. (We) made him feel comfortable in that regard so he could go out and start BP.”

Images of the Day

 

Social Media of the Day

Your 2015 #Nats starting pitchers. #aces

A photo posted by @nationals on

#TonyTwoBags showed off his pro flow at photo day this morning. #Nats #SpringTraining

A photo posted by @nationals on

 

Video Highlights of the Day

 

Quote of the Day

You have to simulate it like it’s a real game. It’s all about the little things.” — Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer on humming the national anthem before live batting practice, which he says he does before every live BP session he’s thrown. 

Daily Wrap: The Full Squad arrives, Bryce Harper talks title & much more

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by Amanda Comak

All that’s left now is for Matt Williams to hold his first team meeting of the year and for the full Washington Nationals squad to take the field Thursday morning. Baseball will truly begin tomorrow as the Nationals will hold their first full-squad workout, provided the weather here on the Space Coast Cooperates.

The Nationals’ position players took their physicals today and came out of them well. It was great to see Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Wilmer Difo and Yunel Escobar make their first appearances at camp this spring. And there’s so much more fun to come in the days ahead.

First, to the daily wrap…

News of the Day: Full-Squad is ready to go

The Nationals’ pitchers and catchers had a light workout Wednesday morning, with the pitchers getting the day off from bullpen sessions.

Williams met the media for his daily briefing with some good news: no issues with the position players’ physicals and the Nationals’ full-squad will be ready to go on Thursday morning. The only issue now will be whether or not the weather will cooperate with storms in the forecast.

No matter, the 2015 Nationals will be together for the first time. That’ll make it a pretty sunny day, regardless.

A few injury updates the manager shared: “We’re ready to go tomorrow,” Williams said. “Of course, Jayson (Werth, who is coming off surgery to the AC joint in his right shoulder) is limited in that regard because he’s post-surgery, so we’ll watch him. With regard to Nate (McLouth) he’s on a throwing program, so we’ll monitor that, too, but everybody is good to go.”

Images of the Day

 

Social Media of the Day

 

Quote of the Day: 

“I absolutely love this organization. I love the city that I play for. And I’m not done here. Like I said five years ago when I first signed here, I’m going to bring back a title to D.C., no matter what. I’m getting chills thinking about it. I absolutely want to do that for this organization, this town. I don’t care how long it takes me, I’m going to stick and do what I need to do to help this organization win.” — Bryce Harper 

Highlights from Max Scherzer’s introductory press conference

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by Mike Feigen

The Washington Nationals agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer on a seven-year contract on Wednesday, followed by an introductory press conference at Nationals Park.

The event featured Scherzer, President of Baseball Operations & General Manager Mike Rizzo, 2014 NL Manager of the Year Matt Williams and Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras. In addition, several members of the Lerner family, Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth and Scherzer’s wife, Erica, attended the press conference.

If you missed any of the press conference, we’re here to fill you in:

Opening statement by President of Baseball Operations & General Manager Mike Rizzo:

Well, it’s a big day here at Nats Park. It is my extreme pleasure to introduce to the Washington D.C. community one of the finest right-handed pitchers in all of baseball and a fine gentleman in his own right, Max Scherzer.

These opportunities don’t come up every day with players of this caliber and with an ownership group with the willingness to put themselves out there and acquire us a player of this ilk. It is my extreme pleasure to welcome Erica and Max to the Washington, D.C. family and to the Washington Nationals family. We couldn’t be happier to have Max in the fold.

Scherzer, on why he signed with the Nationals:

MS: It’s pretty easy. And it’s one (reason): winning. I think this team is capable of winning, and winning a lot. So when you look at the at the near term and long term, this is an organization you want to be a part of.

(Mike Rizzo) has been an architect here, creating a team that has been there at the bottom and has now created a team that is poised to be at the top. That’s something, as a player looking from afar, that I was able to see. Obviously, when the Nationals started knocking on your door, this is a team you want to be a part of. You start having conversations with the Lerner family and understand their commitment to excellence and their commitment to winning — that lines up great with what I want to do. I want to win and that’s why I’m here.

Rizzo, on why he wanted to improve an already strong rotation:

MR: I would say that whenever you can acquire a player of Max Scherzer’s ability level, character, and toughness on the mound, those opportunities are few and far between. We saw a player that we were extremely interested in. He fits all the criteria that we’re looking for in a Washington Nationals type of player. He’s good between the lines, he’s a tough guy, he gets after it, he takes the ball, he attacks hitters. In the clubhouse (he’s a) magnificent teammate. In the community, (he) does nothing but impress everybody he touches. He’s a guy who you can’t ask for more from. He’s the type of guy we’re looking for and he’s the guy we went after very aggressively — and we strengthened a strength. Who wouldn’t want Max Scherzer on their club?

Rizzo, on why Max is “the Nationals’ type of guy”:

MR: He’s everybody’s kind of guy. He’s got great ability, he’s got great work ethic, he’s a great teammate and he gets after it. He’s a winner. We like to think that we attract that type of player, and we certainly landed one in Max.

Scherzer, on when he knew the Nationals would be a good fit?

MS: For me, once January came around there were more teams in contact, and there were different opportunities that (arose). However, throughout the contact, when the Nationals started knocking on the door, that was the conversation I had with Scott; this is definitely a destination I want to play in. This is a team that can win now and can win in the future. That’s something that when you’re signing up for seven years that you want to be a part of. Winning cures everything, and this is definitely a type of organization I want to be a part of. I wanted to continue these type of negotiations with the Washington Nationals because I believe in the Lerner family and what they’re committed to.

Rizzo, on when he started pursuing Max:

MR: Well, ’06, he was on my radar, that’s when I started loving him. We have a grand plan coming into each offseason and there (are) different routes to get to where you want to be — we have different options and opportunities. The plan was laid at the beginning of the offseason and came to fruition in the last three, four weeks or so.

Scherzer, on his initial reaction to the contract offer:

MS: It was jaw dropping. You just can’t even fathom it sometimes. You work so hard to put yourself in this position. For me, it’s all about winning. I don’t play this game for money, but yet at the same time when you have an offer like that it just makes you go, “Wow.” I’m very fortunate to be in this position, that they wanted to commit that type of dollar amount to me.

Scherzer, on whether he called people up to tell them about the deal:

MS: (Scott Boras) told me, “You can’t tell anybody.”  So I had to keep it to myself and just tell my wife. It was a wild moment, so I was very happy.

Williams, on his starting rotation from a manager’s perspective:

MW: To put any of those names down every fifth day is a privilege for anybody. What it does is it just allows us to have a better chance of winning. As Max said, he wants to win, we desperately want to win, Jayson is with us today, he wants to win desperately. We’re glad to have (Max), we’re anxious to get to Spring Training and we know he is.

To give you an idea of the type of competitor Max is, (back in) 2007, he was a young Double-A pitcher and I was his manager. Every Minor Leaguer has a pitch count; his was 100. He was at 97 pitches and I went out to the mound and told him he’s got three pitches to get this last guy out and he was done. He reared back and went 97, 98, 99 (mph) to strike him out. So that’s the kind of guy you see up here. He hasn’t changed since then and he won’t change now. He’s a bulldog and we’re going to be happy to give him the ball every fifth (day).

Scherzer, on wanting the rest of the rotation stay intact beyond this season, including Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann:

MS: For me personally, of course you want to see guys like that. You always want good players on your team. When you speak of Fister and Zimmermann, those are highly talented pitchers. Of course you want to see them on your ballclub, but at the end of the day, Mike’s the architect here. He understands what pitchers he has coming on the way and what’s best for the team, so that’s where he’s going to make this type of decision.

Rizzo, on having the flexibility to add Scherzer without moving other pieces:

MR: With the acquisition of Max, ownership has allowed us to do our business in the best way you can, as far as the baseball side goes. They’ve given us all the ammunition that we need to put together a quality team. Nothing has changed with regard to any other player on the roster. We make good baseball decisions based on baseball evaluations and money does not come into play. We love the team that we have right now, we feel that it’s a really good, capable ballclub and we’re looking to better ourselves each and every day.

Scherzer, on talking to other Nationals players before he signed:

MS: After I signed, Fister reached out to me and sent me a couple of text messages. I was happy to rejoin him. He’s a really good pitcher — there (are) a lot of things you can learn from him. I was also working out with Matt Thornton as well … I was picking his brain the previous week, asking about the clubhouse, how are the different things throughout the year. I feel really comfortable about joining this clubhouse.

Rizzo, on what he remembered about Scherzer before the 2006 draft:

MR: I saw Max twice as an amateur, and the first time he didn’t fare that well, but loved the competitiveness, loved the way he attacked hitters and loved the demeanor on the mound. He was pouring fastballs into these right-handed hitters. His stuff was there, it was pretty evident that he had power stuff. But what really affected me in a positive light was I saw a guy that was struggling a little bit but made no excuses and just got after it. The second time when I went back to see him it was a 180 (degree change). It was a very easy game to scout and he was an extremely easy player to take at the No. 11 pick in the draft that year.

Rizzo, on having little concern about Scherzer’s age and duration of contract:

MR: He’s a durable pitcher. If I’m not mistaken, he’s never been on the Disabled List in the past five years. He takes the ball whenever he’s given it — he’s a horse. He’s got the makeup and character to take things deep into games, if asked to. For a 30-year-old pitcher, he’s thrown very (few) innings and pitches for a pitcher that’s had the success he’s had at the age that he’s at. I feel like we’ve got a young 30-year-old arm with a lot of mileage left on the tires and a guy that’s going to take us into competitive games for a very long time … he can really hit, too, by the way.

From the Desk of Mark D. Lerner: Hello from the Winter Meetings

Hello everyone,
I’m writing to you today from our team headquarters at the Manchester Grand Hyatt here in San Diego, where the Winter Meetings have been given a beautiful backdrop to heat up the hot stove.
image

A view from inside our team suite at the 2014 Winter Meetings.

  • It’s been great to be back talking baseball with Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo and his staff as we look forward to 2015 and focus on building our club for another 162-game — and beyond — challenge. That’s not to say that we’ve pushed 2014 out of our minds. I still haven’t recovered from the abrupt end to our season — but it has only served to fuel Mike, manager Matt Williams, and the rest of our organization to put together another great team so we can make another run at a World Series championship next season.
  • The task in front of Mike and his staff is not an easy one. As an organization, and with Mike at the helm, we’ve always taken the approach that we must focus on improving our ballclub for the immediate, and long-term, future. That’s never been more important than now, as we enter a new situation for our team with many of our young, talented players having reached the Major Leagues at the same time, and obviously now potentially reaching free agency at the same time. But the way Mike has built the organization the last several years, depth has been of extreme importance and that allows us to be in a position where building our team — for 2015 and beyond — can mean that anything can happen. That’s one thing I always love about the Winter Meetings in particular: the excitement, anticipation and buzz in the air. Everyone is curious to see what each team will do, and where free agents will land.
  • For us, the Winter Meetings are also a chance to get our entire baseball operations department together, and especially all of our professional scouts, for really the only time all year. It’s always so great to catch up, meet some of the new people that we’ve brought into the organization, and have so many wonderful baseball minds in the same room. Our front office staff has been working all year to prepare for this week, and it’s exciting when the ideas really start bouncing around the room.
  • I’d be remiss if I talked all about the excitement of this week without mentioning NatsFest this Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. We are so thrilled to be bringing NatsFest back into the District and back at the Convention Center.This is always one of my favorite events of the offseason. It’s always so wonderful to see all of our players after a few weeks apart, and of course to get a chance to interact with all of you, our great fans. I know, from all of the planning that has gone into it, that this will no doubt be our best NatsFest yet. From the new games and programs they’ve been prepping to the new space that we’ll be utilizing inside the convention center, I just can’t wait to get there on Saturday morning and to enjoy a full day of Nationals spirit with all of you.

I look forward to seeing you all soon and think NatsFest will be the perfect kickoff to the holiday season.

Mark

Wishing a happy 85th birthday to Phil Rizzo

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Portrait of Nationals General Manager Mike RizzoIn the aftermath of the Washington Nationals’ 2014 National League East Division Championship celebration, Nationals President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo was asked what comes to his mind first when he sees his team accomplish this type of feat. How, a reporter wondered, did he feel when the possibility to reach the sport’s ultimate mountaintop suddenly becomes far more tangible?

Rizzo, who has built the Nationals into a division winner twice in the last three years, said he thinks first of the two 80-year-olds in his life: Nationals Managing Principal Owner Ted Lerner, and his father, Phil Rizzo — and how much these championships means to them.

rizzox-largePhil Rizzo, a member of the inaugural class (2008) of the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame, turned 85 on Monday, reaching a milestone birthday without slowing down.

Phil Rizzo currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the General Manager (his son, Mike) for the Nationals. And his opinions and evaluations are as integral as ever for the younger Rizzo.

Among Phil Rizzo’s notable moments as a lifelong scout are filing the first report on University of Kentucky right-hander Brandon Webb, who won the 2006 National League Cy Young Award and represented Arizona in three All-Star games, as well as signing players such as Mike Matheny, Dick Schofield and Mark Loretta.

Happy 85th Birthday, Phil!

Nationals Select UNLV’s Fedde

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by Mike Feigen

The Washington Nationals finished off a three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday afternoon, then added to their deep farm system with the selection of pitcher Erick Fedde with the 18th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Fedde, a 6-foot-4, 180 pound right-hander out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, compiled an 8-2 record with a 1.76 ERA in 11 starts for the Rebels in 2014, striking out 82 batters and walking just 21 batters in 76.2 innings pitched. He was named to the All-Mountain West First Team and also earned 2014 Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Year honors.

“We’ve scouted him intensely over the last three years,” Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo said, noting Fedde’s competitiveness on the mound. “He’s got two plus-plus pitches, and his third pitch, a change-up, is on the come. We think that’s going to be an above average pitch.”

The 21-year-old, who played at Las Vegas High School with Bryce Harper in 2009, underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on Tuesday. Rizzo said that the team is excited about Fedde’s potential, despite the injury.

“[Erick is a] big, physical guy — we had him toward the top of our draft board,” Rizzo said. “We felt that the risk of him rehabbing and coming back to pre-injury form was worth the draft pick.”

Assistant General Manager & Vice President of Scouting Operations Kris Kline was also sold on Fedde’s pedigree and repertoire.

“I actually saw his first start of the year at UNLV and it was really, really good,” Kline said. “I walked out of there thinking that we’ve got no shot at getting this player, because he was a top-five type guy. He doesn’t throw anything straight … a lot of life, very heavy, above average slider up to 88 [miles per hour] and the makings and flashes of an above-average change-up.”

Following a year in which the Nationals did not have a first-round selection, the Nationals will look to extend their impressive run of successful first round picks since Rizzo was promoted to the team’s GM post in 2009. Fedde joins Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Harper, Anthony Rendon and Lucas Giolito as first-round draft selections in Washington during Rizzo’s tenure.

Rizzo said the Nationals’ medical team has been in touch with the doctors who performed Fedde’s surgery, and assuming Fedde signs with the organization this summer, the team will at that point take over the rehabilitation process.

“We’ll put him in the Viera [Fla.] rehab mode,” Rizzo said. “We’ll have our really talented rehab coordinators get after it and allow him to hopefully be pitching at this time next year somewhere.”

[UPDATE]

With their second round selection at No. 57 overall, the Nationals tabbed Andrew Suarez, a 6-foot-2 left-hander out of the University of Miami. Suarez, 21, went 6-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 2014, walking a minuscule 15 batters in 109.2 innings of work for the Hurricanes.

The draft is set to continue with rounds three through 10 on Friday and rounds 11 through 40 Saturday.

Mike Rizzo talks injuries, roster moves & more

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by Amanda Comak

ATLANTA — Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo met with the media before this afternoon’s game at Turner Field to discuss a litany of topics that have arisen in the season’s first two weeks.

Here’s some of what Rizzo discussed, from injuries to roster moves and the growing rivalry with the Atlanta Braves.

Atlanta Braves v Washington NationalsOn how he feels the team is positioned after losing Doug Fister, Wilson Ramos, Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman to early injuries: 

“We feel as good as we can with the glut of injuries that we’ve had to key players. We’re talking about your middle-of-the-lineup bats. But we prepared for it this offseason with the acquisitions of (catcher Jose Lobaton) and key guys like (Kevin Frandsen) and (Nate McLouth). We still feel good about the roster.”

On if he feels the Nationals are just not catching any breaks early, with regard to injuries:

“No, nobody cares. The rest of the league doesn’t care. We’re just trying to work our way through it. We’ve got a game every day. That’s the one thing about baseball. The everydayness of it is really what separates the sport. That’s why we have 40-man rosters, that’s why we have Minor League systems.

“Injuries happen and you have to prepare for them. We think we’re well-prepared and well-positioned to handle them. We’ve got games to play and games to win.”

On how Denard Span is doing after being placed on the 7-day DL Saturday with a concussion:

“We’re going to have the doctor re-examine him tomorrow in Miami. He’s going to do some physical activities, and then we’ll take it from there.”

On Ryan Zimmerman’s prognosis after fracturing his right thumb on Saturday night:

“It’s a clean fracture. I saw the X-rays and I talked to the doctor. He’s going to see a hand specialist (at the Cleveland Clinic) on Monday. We’ll get a diagnosis and make our plans from there.”

On infielder Zach Walters, who was called up to replace Zimmerman on the roster

“He’s capable of playing (second base, third base and shortstop). His natural position is shortstop. He’s got the skillset to play shortstop. He’s going to play all the different positions, and being a switch hitter off the bench with power helps us.”

On Doug Fister’s rehab from a strained lat muscle:

“Doug’s involved in his (throwing) program. He’ll progress to another bullpen (on Monday), throwing all this pitches, and he’ll take the next step depending on how it goes.”

On his opinions of the job manager Matt Williams has done in the season’s first 11 games: 

“It’s the same game he’s always watched. Putting the lineups together, running the game in his mind (it’s not unfamiliar to him). Besides the newness of instant replay, it’s baseball as usual.

“He’s got a great support system around him with the coaches. It’s baseball 24/7 with Matt and the rest of them. They’re constantly in the clubhouse talking baseball. It’s a great dynamic and it’s enjoyable to see.”

On his evaluations of Danny Espinosa thus far this season as he bounces back from 2013: 

“We’re glad we drafted him and developed him. We’ve always valued him as a really good Major League player. It’s time for him and for other players on the team to show (what they can do).”

On how he views the Nationals’ games against the Braves: 

“(I’ve seen) great games. They’ve come on the winning side of it more often than we like, but we feel confident against this team. We feel we’re better than this team. We respect them, we respect the organization, but we don’t fear them . We think we’re the better team and we think at the end of the day we’re going to come out on top.”

Recapping Mike Rizzo’s Facebook Q&A

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Tuesday night, as part of the Washington Nationals’ first Social Fan Event of the season, Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo took some time to answer questions from the team’s most loyal Facebook fans. In the third inning of the Nationals’ 5-0 victory over the Miami Marlins, Rizzo answered several queries.

Here’s a recap of the Facebook Q&A:

FB---RizzoChatWashington Nationals: Hi everyone, Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo is here to start answering some of your questions!

Ralph Thompson Jr.: Here are two – how does the GM see the farm system going forward? Are there lots of prospects in the lower minors?

Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo: Thanks for the question, Ralph Thompson Jr. We feel good about our entire Minor League system. We believe our last couple of drafts have been very successful. We’ve got a lot of power arms coming and some exciting position players also.

Ben Gerow: Do you like to watch every game or have someone tell you about it (a la Moneyball)?

MR: Hi, Ben Gerow. I watch every game, in person, home and away.

Stacey Cottrell: What’s your opinion on instant replay? Do you believe it should be in the MLB and if so to what extent.

MR: Thanks for the question, Stacey Cottrell. I believe that the Major League umpires do the best job of any of the professional sports. With that said, it makes sense — with the technology that we have — to get each and every call right, so we are proponents of it.

Kristen Hottle: What’s your favorite, or best, experience with the Washington Nationals so far?

MR: That’s a tough question, Kristen Hottle. Probably the day that we clinched the National League East title.

Nathan Marquez: Who opened the first “door” to the Front Office for you? And why did they open it for you instead of the others wanting a shot?

MR: Thanks for the question, Nathan Marquez. I would have to say Joe Garagiola Jr. gave me my first opportunity in the front office. He hired me to be the Director of Scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks and my time in Arizona was extremely valuable.

Stefany Needel Meyer: Which off-season transaction was he the most proud of (or which was the most difficult deal to get done)?

MR: Thanks for writing in Stefany Needel Meyer. I think the most important one was the hiring of Matt Williams as our manager at the outset of the offseason.

Nancy Edwards: What is your personal dream for the Nationals Baseball Youth Academy?

MR: Hi, Nancy Edwards. Thanks for asking about the Youth Baseball Academy. We are very excited about it. We have a vision of helping all underprivileged children in Washington D.C. by giving them a strong foundation — a place to be, where they can learn skills not only for baseball but for life, and a good safe place they can come after school and improve themselves.

Steven Graves: What is the situation with (Ryan) Zimmerman? Go Nats!

MR: Hi, Steven Graves. Thanks for the question. Ryan Zimmerman is very important to all of us. We feel that he’s had this soreness in his shoulder before. He knows that we know how to handle it, and we’re just going to manage it throughout the rest of the season.

Aaron Thackery: Mike, A+ thank you for building a respectable ball club. Here’s my Q: have you ever considered switching (Jordan Zimmermann) and Strasburg in their rotation positions?

MR: Hi, Aaron Thackery. Interesting suggestion. But the way the rotation sets up is really only the way it goes the first couple of times through the rotation. After that, with days off and that kind of thing, it’s whoever is available and whatever time their number comes up.

Clark Townsend: Seems like after the 2015 season will be a big decision year for you. Has Mr. Lerner given you a blank checkbook to get (Wilson) Ramos, (Ian) Desmond and (Jordan Zimmermann) extensions done?

MR: Thanks for writing in, Clark Townsend. Ownership has given us all of the resources that we need to put together a quality baseball team, and a quality franchise, and will continue to do so.

Dena Olyaie: If you could have a walk out song, what’d it be?

MR: Haha, Dena Olyaie. I guess it would have to be the theme from Rocky.

Nancy Edwards: What do you see as role of social media for the Nats organization?

MR: Good question, Nancy Edwards. I think Social Media is a great way for the Nationals to get our message out. It’s a great way to engage with fans and connect them more to our team and our game. It also helps us call attention to the many wonderful off-field things the organization does.

Washington Nationals: Thanks, everyone for the questions. That’s all the time Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo has tonight. We hope you enjoyed it!

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

Twitter: @Nationals | Facebook: Nationals | Instagram: @Nationals

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

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