Results tagged ‘ Nationals Magazine ’

Nationals Magazine Preview: Kevin Frandsen; His Brother’s Keeper

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The following is an excerpt from the August/September issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The August/September issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

by Amanda Comak

frandsen magFriends and family often tell Kevin Frandsen that it feels like yesterday that their world was shattered. That it seems as though hardly any time has passed since his older brother, DJ, retired from his 19-year battle with kidney cancer.

But this September it will be 10 years. And the Washington Nationals utility man has felt every second of DJ’s absence.

“If you told me it’s closer to 20 years, that’s what it’s felt like,” Frandsen said in late June. “Because when you lose your best friend (you feel it). Every day I talk to him, every single day.”

Frandsen paused and glanced at his surroundings. He sat on the edge of the dugout at Wrigley Field, a baseball cathedral, playing for a team that he calls “the winner you dream about being on,” and talked about how much he wishes DJ were here to see him now.

“Ten years,” Frandsen said. “It’s nuts.”

Frandsen’s memories of DJ are so vivid, so present in his mind. He smiles when he talks about the day he got drafted by the San Francisco Giants, and about how DJ cheered him up when the wait to hear his name languished past the 11th round. Frandsen had retreated to the batting cage their dad, Dave, had built in their backyard. Over the years, it’d become Kevin’s sanctuary. When he couldn’t be with the rest of his family at the hospital with DJ, he’d hit.

“DJ had just gotten back from another round of chemo and I was getting frustrated because I hadn’t been drafted yet and it was the eighth or ninth round,” Frandsen recalled. “I went into the cage to get away and at the end of the 11th round he was like, ‘You need to come back in. It’s time. You’re going to get drafted.'”

With the 29th pick in the 12th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, the Giants called Frandsen’s name.

“They give the number, and then they said ‘Frandsen, Kevin,'” Frandsen said. “And DJ, he could barely run. Walking was tough. But he was running outside with his shirt off.”

That year, as Frandsen began his professional career, DJ and Dave surprised him and showed up at his first game. The last time DJ ever saw Kevin play, he went 4-for-4 with two doubles. Later that season, Frandsen was playing a ground ball at second when the runner on first collided with him and broke his collar bone.

The injury was crushing. But it was also a blessing. In the final seven weeks of DJ’s life, the injury allowed Kevin to spend each day with his big brother — who is three years, five days older, Kevin is quick to point out.

DJ passed away on Sept. 16, 2004. He was 25. He’d fought cancer off and on since he was six.

In the years since DJ’s passing, Frandsen and his family have ensured that he would be a part of their everyday life, and that families going through what theirs did might have a slightly easier road. They set up “19 for Life” in DJ’s honor, and the foundation has become exactly the type of shining light they’d hoped it would.

Mag3_CoverTo continue reading “His Brother’s Keeper” on Nationals utility man Kevin Frandsen, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

Nationals Magazine Preview: Anthony Rendon; Equilibrium

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The following is an excerpt from the August/September issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The August/September issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

by Mike Feigen

No matter the game situation, the position he plays on the diamond or the spot he hits in the lineup, Anthony Rendon serves as the Washington Nationals’ steadying influence.

At one end of the spectrum stands The Era of Twitter, the 24-hour news cycle, newspaper comments sections and ubiquitous “hot take” sports columns. The gravitational pull of this collective force draws unsuspecting victims into its orbit, with misstatements becoming headline news and free agent decisions drawing round-the-clock coverage.

Mag3_CoverAt the other end stands a reserved, unassuming 24-year-old, grinning sheepishly — perhaps reluctantly — as a cluster of reporters scurry to form a semicircle around the padded folding chair in front of his locker. With his back to the scene, he collects his thoughts, takes a deep breath, and turns to face the scribes, with the chair forming a symbolic barrier between himself and The Era, lest it envelop him, too.

Whether he wants to admit it or not, the Nationals’ success through the first three-and-a-half months of the season was largely a credit to the work put in by Anthony Rendon. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound second and third baseman enjoyed a tremendous all-around first half, hitting .287/.343/.490 with 13 home runs, 53 runs batted in, 67 runs scored and eight stolen bases.

His cool, calm and collected approach at the plate and in the field gave the Nationals a dependable presence on a daily basis, with injuries sidelining Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Wilson Ramos, Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman for a combined 168 games at various points in April, May and June.

Beginning the year as Matt Williams’ Opening Day second baseman — and hitting the back-breaking three-run home run in that game — Rendon started nearly every day at third base when Zimmerman went down less than two weeks into the year, before moving back to second upon Harper’s return on the last day of June. He provided excellent defense wherever he played, showing remarkable range, nifty glove work and a howitzer for a right arm.

Rendon’s success at the plate earned him a series of “promotions” up the lineup card, moving from the eighth spot in the opener — that experiment lasted just one day — before settling in nicely as Williams’ everyday No. 2 hitter behind Span. He hit at least once in every spot in the order along the way, including five times at the No. 5 spot and nine times in the leadoff role.

Span has seen an uptick in the amount of quality pitches he has to hit with Rendon hitting behind him, driving 28 doubles prior to the All-Star break — matching his entire 2013 total in 278 fewer plate appearances.

“(Anthony) has been the catalyst,” Span said in early July. “He’s done everything — he’s gotten on base, he’s scored runs, he’s knocked in a ton of runs. Defensively, he’s been unbelievable at second and third base. He’s been our MVP so far in this first half of the season.”

Mag3_CoverTo continue reading “Equilibrium” on Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

Nationals Magazine preview: Gio Gonzalez; Line in the Water

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The following is an excerpt from the April/May issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The April/May issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

by Amanda Comak

Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals’ affable left-hander, is at peace as he begins his third season in Washington, a demeanor he’s arrived at with time spent with a fishing pole in hand. 

gio line in the water1There is a spot just off the Pineda Causeway, before the bridge reconnects with U.S. Route 1 and just far enough into the Indian River, where it’s easy to feel like you’re away from the rest of the world for a while. The waves crash against the base of the bridge and the breeze tempers the late afternoon sun.

It is a spot that Gio Gonzalez found during his first Spring Training with the Washington Nationals, now three camps ago. He used to come to this small pull-off with teammates. Sometimes Michael Morse, other times Edwin Jackson or Yunesky Maya, whose knack for fishing Gonzalez still hasn’t forgotten. They’d park their cars mere feet from the water and spend a few hours letting their minds focus on the fish.

On one idyllic afternoon this February, Gonzalez came here with his father, Max. They pulled off the causeway and dropped a few lines into the water. Max lit a cigar. They gazed into the horizon and relaxed.

“Any problem you have, you come out and fish and it’s like it disappears,” Gio said.

He smiled easily as his father joked with him and told stories.

There was the time Max took Gio and his brothers to the Florida Keys for a few days when they were kids. They slept in a tent right on the shore and spent the days fishing and swimming. One afternoon, moments after they’d gotten out of the water from a swim, “the biggest manatee I ever saw swam by,” Max recalled, separating his arms to emphasize his point. “They flipped,” he added with a chuckle.

Not 10 minutes after he’d told the manatee story, Max, standing about 15 feet from his son, spotted a familiar creature and shouted excitedly to Gio. Three manatees swam by, playing with one another as they went.

“Wow,” Gio said as they passed, a smile crossing his face. “You can’t beat that with a stick.”

Just as he seemed on that afternoon, Gonzalez begins his third season in Washington with a sense of peace about him. He has put a tumultuous 2013 season — the first in his career in which he did not improve upon what he’d done the year before — behind him. The potential for greatness remains ahead.

Asked if he’s excited for the upcoming season, Gonzalez is firm.

“I am,” he said without hesitation. “We just look focused — even our young guys in camp. Everyone has a focus about them… It just feels right.”

Cover-Mag1-webTo continue reading “Line in the Water” on Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

Nationals Magazine preview: Jayson Werth; Speaker of the House

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The following is an excerpt from the April/May issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The April/May issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

by Mike Feigen

Three short seasons ago, Jayson Werth leaned on his experience as he adapted to a new organization. Today, the Nationals outfielder has become a fan favorite, the catalyst in a dynamic and talented lineup, and one of the most vocal leaders in a close-knit clubhouse.

Following the Nationals’ first full workout of Spring Training, Jayson Werth looked out from his locker at Space Coast Stadium as the throng of reporters huddled around him. He deftly answered questions with his trademark dry wit, commanding the tone of the session with a few well-timed jokes and several well-reasoned responses.

Cover-Mag1-webSuch is life for Jayson Werth in 2014, often a go-to spokesman for a team with worlds of talent and championship dreams to match. When the bearded 34-year-old says he’s optimistic about the upcoming season and points out how close last year’s club came to making a postseason run, it’s only natural for everyone to nod their heads along with him.

“The way we played in the second half last year coming down the stretch, there’s still some meat on the bone,” Werth says. “The season just wasn’t long enough. It’s something to build on going forward. We’re excited to get things going.”

As Werth looks forward to the promise of a new year, it’s easy to forget just how far he and the Nationals have come since he signed with the club on December 5, 2010. Year One of the Werth era brought a major leap forward for the entire organization, with an 80-81 record and third place finish in the National League East, then the highest placement in the division since the franchise moved to D.C. in 2005.

In spite of the team’s dramatic improvement, Werth’s up-and-down season did not live up to his own lofty standards, and he knew he could do more. At the time, he spoke at length about how he battled just to find his swing, even as his 2.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) would have ranked in the top three among qualified Nats hitters each of the previous three seasons.

What was less apparent, beneath the surface, was how his leadership had slowly begun to transform the Nationals into a group that expected to win by the end of 2011.

“(Last season is) water under the bridge now,” Werth told reporters upon reporting for camp before the 2012 season. “I don’t think it’s a fair assessment to judge my career or my time in Washington on last year. We’ve got lots of time to make good. We’re going in the right direction.”

Proven prophetic as the wins poured in throughout his second season with the Nationals, Werth wasn’t able to be as integral as he’d hoped, sidelined by a broken wrist for much of the summer. Even upon his return, when he slashed an excellent .312/.394/.441, he did so from the leadoff spot because his home run power had yet to fully return. Still, he continued to put the team first, setting the table for the rest of the offense while he healed.

Then, with one mighty swing on October 11, 2012, everything changed.

Cover-Mag1-webTo continue reading “Speaker of the House” on Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

Nationals Magazine preview: Doug Fister; A Monumental Addition

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The following is an excerpt from the Spring Training issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The Spring Training magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Space Coast Stadium on gamedays.

by Mike Feigen

Standing tall at 6-foot-8, Doug Fister should be hard to overlook. Instead, the Californian with the worm-killing sinker has twice been traded, including an offseason deal that earned the Nationals plaudits in baseball circles. No stranger to sharing the spotlight — he’s pitched alongside four Cy Young Award winners — Fister is ready to make a big splash in a star-studded Washington rotation.

A monumental additionThe last time Doug Fister stepped onto a Major League mound, the stakes were high and his mission clear: with his Detroit Tigers trailing the Boston Red Sox two games to one in the 2013 American League Championship Series, he needed a big performance to knot the series.

Fister came through, holding the eventual World Champions to just one run over six magnificent innings, striking out seven batters in a 7-3 Detroit victory.

It would be the Tigers’ final win of the 2013 season, and the final time an opposing starter would limit the Red Sox to fewer than two runs in the postseason.

It was the kind of display that usually earns pitchers national notoriety and the “big game” label — particularly when they’ve led their team to six wins in seven career postseason starts, as Fister has done. Instead, it simply helped validate what fans, scouts and members of the statistics-based community had been saying for years: this guy is the real deal.

Just six-and-a-half weeks later, Fister became a Washington National.

STCoverThumbTo continue reading “A Monumental Addition” on Nationals right-hander Doug Fister, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Space Coast Stadium on gamedays.

Nationals Magazine preview: Matt Williams; Trust the Process

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The following is an excerpt from the Spring Training issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The Spring Training magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Space Coast Stadium on gamedays.

by Amanda Comak

The spotlights bore down on Matt Williams as he sat front-and-center on the main stage. To his left was Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. To his right, Mark D. Lerner, one of the Nationals’ Principal Owners.

trust the processIn front, throngs of red-and-white-clad fans waited pensively as Williams brought the microphone to his mouth.

“You have no idea,” Williams said, “how happy I am to be here.”

Applause followed.

The Nationals will enter the 2014 season with a new manager, the fifth in the organization’s history. And while the reception that Williams received at NatsFest in late January was one of rousing approval, the reception he’d been preparing for more happened roughly 900 miles to the south.

In early February, Williams stood inside the Nationals’ clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium and looked around. The men who’ll make up the first Major League team he’ll ever manage sat around him. From the Minor Leaguers getting their first taste of big league camp, to the most wily of veterans inhabiting their usual lockers in the back left corner, they gathered together.

Williams thrust one message upon each of them: trust the process.

Williams doesn’t shy away from the fact that while his team is among league heavyweights in preseason predictions, flush with talent and driven to do better than they have, he is a rookie manager. A decorated and championship player, well-liked and respected coach, former broadcaster and one-time front office member, Williams has finally found the role that he’d searched for since retiring from playing.

He knows questions remain, because until a challenge presents itself — whether on the field or in the clubhouse — there is no iron-clad answer for how the manager will respond to it. He’s ready, make no mistake, but he also expects to learn a great deal this season.

STCoverThumbSo the one thing he wanted to impress upon his team in that first meeting was simple.

Trust the process.

Believe in the work they’re putting in, and they’ll get to where they want to go.

“Day one,” he said, “we have to understand the process.”

To continue reading “Trust the Process” on Nationals Manager Matt Williams, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Space Coast Stadium on gamedays.

Jordan Zimmermann: Red Granite

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The photo gallery below is a supplemental bonus feature for the cover article Jordan Zimmermann: Red Granite, from Issue 3 of the 2013 Nationals Magazine. Beginning this season, we will provide links, text shortcodes and QR codes to digital features like this one throughout Nationals Magazine and Inside Pitch.

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Inside The Numbers: Going The Distance

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The following is a digital bonus feature from the Inside The Numbers infographic in Nationals Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 3, in which we tracked the 10 longest home runs hit by the Nationals at home prior to the All-Star break. Watch each one below as we count down to Number One.

10. Adam LaRoche – 410 feet, 4.9 vs. CHW

9. Adam LaRoche – 414 feet, 4.9 vs. CHW

T-7. Jayson Werth – 418 feet, 4.9 vs. CHW

T-7. Wilson Ramos – 418 feet, 7.4 vs. MIL

6. Ian Desmond – 419 feet, 6.20 vs. COL

5. Bryce Harper – 420 feet, 4.10 vs. CHW

4. Ian Desmond – 421 feet, 5.11 vs. CHC

3. Bryce Harper – 427 feet, 5.8 vs. DET

T-1. Jayson Werth – 434 feet, 4.4 vs. MIA

T-1. Bryce Harper – 434 feet, 4.25 vs. CIN

K Street

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The video below is a supplemental bonus feature for the cover article K Street, from Issue 2 of the 2013 Nationals Magazine. Beginning this season, we will provide links, text shortcodes and QR codes to digital features like this one throughout Nationals Magazine and Inside Pitch.

Mag2_KStreet_Medium

Capture the Caption: Magazine 1

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Flex your creative muscles and come up with a caption for the series of photos below from Nationals Magazine, Issue 1 featuring Tyler Moore and Jordan Zimmermann. Leave your response in the comments and we’ll feature our favorites in print in Issue 2, available at Nationals Park beginning in June!

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