Results tagged ‘ Opening Day ’

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #6

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#6: Bryce Harper – What’s Next?

COVER-mediumSo far, so good. Bryce Harper entered the league as perhaps the most heralded young prospect in baseball history, and lived up to the nearly overwhelming expectations levied upon him by capturing the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Aptly named after one of Harper’s idols, Jackie Robinson, the award seemed almost predestined to be Harper’s after his signature moment of the 2012 campaign – the teenager’s steal of home off of Phillies hurler Cole Hamels. It’s a move so connected with Robinson with that the image of him doing so is emblazoned upon the trophy itself.

Harper swiped 18 bags while swatting 22 home runs, all in just 139 games. He electrified crowds with his hustle, his raw power and his cannon arm in the outfield. More importantly, he solidified a Nationals lineup as it came into its own, and was instrumental in the run to the club’s first-ever postseason appearance.

So, what’s next? Only time will tell. Make sure to pick up a copy of Nationals Magazine – available at the ballpark starting this Friday, March 29 – in which we talk to Harper about how he hopes to build off his stellar inaugural year.

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Excitement in the Air

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Hello everyone.

If you are reading this blog, chances are that I don’t have to remind you that Opening Day is less than a week away. I’m pumped up for the season to get started, and I know all of you Nats fans are also. During my nearly month-long stay in Viera, I spoke with hundreds of our fans. The common theme down there was unbridled enthusiasm.

Now I am back here in D.C. and the messaging is identical.

Is this is the most anticipated season in D.C. sports history? While this is not for me to say, I have to think it is at the very least on a short list.

  • Friday’s 2:05 p.m. exhibition game against the New York Yankees at Nationals Park will feature a Jordan Zimmermann-Andy Pettitte pitching matchup. And here’s hoping that future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter’s ankle allows him to play, not only Friday, but all season.
  • Interesting to hear that Davey plans to really split time behind the plate between Wilson Ramos and Kurt Suzuki. Both are wildly popular in the clubhouse and among the pitching staffs. I think Davey’s direction here tells us that he is quite confident in Wilson’s knee and overall fitness.
  • Tyler Moore, Chad Tracy, Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina represent perhaps the finest bench in MLB. I know that Davey views all four as talents capable of starting. And this does not include the backup catcher, Ramos or Suzuki.
  • If you have not picked up on this yet, … Micah Owings can really HIT. I really enjoyed getting to know Micah during spring training.
  • Gazing at the schedule, it is still strange to see that we’ll be hosting the Chicago White Sox for three games from April 9-11. I keep reminding myself that this new day and age of interleague play will take some getting used to. It will also be fun to see the Detroit Tigers visit D.C. for a two-game set, May 7-8.
  • More than a few fans mentioned they are pumped to see William Howard Taft (Bill) and Teddy interact. This historically fiery relationship is one to keep an eye on all summer. I understand there has been a lot of trash talking already between the two already. Best of luck to Bill on his upcoming racing debut.
  • I’d be remiss if I did not thank and wish Kristina Akra, formerly of MASN, all the best on her new career path. For those that do not know, Kristina recently accepted a new job with the MLB Network. She will thrive there, but at the same time, her warm smile and enthusiasm will be missed here with the ballclub.
  • Sports Illustrated, one of the preeminent publications in our industry, came out today with their prediction of the Nationals as World Series favorites. While I’m thrilled about their optimism, as well as that of all others (like ESPN The Magazine) who have tabbed us to be successful this year, I know there is much work to be done before we get to any of that. So I’ll just echo Davey’s remarks today: “It’s better than being picked to come in last!”

See you all on Friday…

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #7

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#7: More Season Plan Holders

With the success of the team on the field last season, it should be no surprise that the Nationals Season Plan Holder base continues to grow. And just as the franchise develops into a perennial contender, our fans are becoming louder, more passionate and more informed about their favorite club. From the front office, it’s a pleasure to watch the two transformations happen simultaneously, feeding off one another.

When fans attend the games together, it fosters a sense of community. A mutual shared interest becomes something greater, something that crosses racial, political, or economic boundaries to bring a region together. And as the season grows longer and more tense, the games ever more important, it is the moments spent together with your friends and neighbors in the cool spring nights and the summer heat that make the impending autumn so much more meaningful.

Regardless of whether you’ve been with the team since they opened RFK with the return of baseball to The District in 2005 or are brand new to the family this year, there is one thing we can all agree on: there has never been a better time to be a Nationals Season Plan Holder. If you are still on the fence, remember that the only way to get tickets to sold-out Opening Day is to purchase a Full or Half Season Plan. And also remember that you’ve only got until March 31 to get your 2013 plan at 2012 prices.

The season is almost upon us. We can’t wait.

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #8

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#8: Bobbleheads and Concerts and Tweet-ups (oh my!)

The guesses at this year’s bobblehead class ranged far and wide, including many of your favorites on the Nats roster. And while Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper were popular – and correct – guesses, few saw Davey Johnson on the list until the clues began being revealed in our Bobblehead Trivia Challenge.

We had guesses and questions flying in from all corners of the web, fans trying to ply us for information. Here was an excerpt of one of our favorites from last Wednesday, after three clues had been revealed, via email:

If only 5 digits are ultimately revealed representing the jersey numbers for 3 players, then 2 of the players must have 2-digit jersey numbers and the third player must have only 1 digit. There are only 3 players with 1 digit jersey numbers (http://nationals.mlb.com/team/roster_active.jsp?c_id=was): Steve
Lombardozzi (1), Denard Span (2) and Danny Espinosa (8). None of these numbers have been the solution to any of the first three clues, therefore one of them (1, 2, or 8) must be revealed by the final two clues.

As mentioned, two of the digits revealed are the number 4. There is no #44 on the active roster, therefore the number 4 must appear in both jersey numbers of the players with 2-digit jersey numbers. Because the answer to clue #2 is 5, and that isn’t the number for any of the single-digit players on the roster (http://nationals.mlb.com/team/roster_active.jsp?c_id=was), it must be paired with one of the 4s.

In short, based on the answers to the clues and the limited number of clues/digits remaining, one of the jersey numbers must be either 45 or 54. Currently there are no players with either number on the roster.

After some careful thought, our fan put two and two together and realized that, in spite of his correct math, there was one more possibility – Davey Johnson, our third and final bobblehead of 2012.

Congrats to our grand prize winner, Ellie Spitzer. And here’s your first look at our first bobblehead of the year, Gio Gonzalez, on Saturday, April 13.

GioBobbleWhite

We know you’re also eagerly awaiting the unveiling of our NatsLive FREE postgame concert series, which we will be announcing soon. Finally, we’ll also be expanding our in-park social media events this season, so make sure you’re following us on both Facebook and Twitter for those announcements and special offers as they are announced later this year. Click here for an updated list of promotions to date.

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #9

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#9: A Full Season of the Face of the Franchise

As well as last season played out overall for the Nationals, it was hardly devoid of setbacks. Most of the everyday position players suffered injury issues at one point or another, with Ian Desmond, Michael Morse, Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman all requiring disabled list stints. Each of those five were productive when they were healthy, though perhaps none more than Zimmerman.

Over his final 90 games, Zimmerman posted a slash line of .321/.383/.504 with 26 doubles, 22 home runs and 73 RBI. To put that in perspective, had he hit at his “healthy” rate for the 145 games in which he played, he would have finished the season with 42 doubles, 35 home runs and 118 RBI, even missing 17 games on the season. Those totals would have ranked tied for fifth, third, and first in the National League, respectively, and Zimmerman would have finished third in the NL batting race. Simply put, he played like an MVP from June 24 on, then went on to lead the team in hits, extra-base hits and RBI in the postseason.

As Spring Training comes to a close, Zimmerman’s throwing shoulder – repaired via offseason surgery – appears to be at full strength, and he enters Sunday’s game batting .351 in the Grapefruit League. It appears he will hit fourth in the Washington lineup, sandwiched comfortably between Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper and Silver Slugger Adam LaRoche. With the promise of a full season ahead of him, the Face of the Franchise – smack in the prime of his career at age 28 – may just be primed for his best season yet in a Nationals uniform.

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #10

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#10: New Ballpark Food

As much as any innovation in the game of baseball the past couple of decades, the improvement in quality and variety of ballpark food is right at the top. No longer content to serve up the simple hot dog, peanut and cracker jack diet of days or yore (not that there’s anything wrong with the classics), sporting events now feature gourmet cuisine of all styles. From garlic fries in San Francisco to cheese steaks from Tony Luke’s in Philadelphia, from fish tacos in San Diego, to Cincinnati’s famous Skyline Chili, it seems that each region of the country proudly displays its favorite local delicacy at the ballpark.

Of course, Nationals Park already features a plethora of dining options, a number of which we featured right here last year. But on top of Shake Shack, Ben’s Chili Bowl, and all your other favorites, there will be some new options along South Capitol this season.

For instance, be sure to check out the brand new Shawafel stand in section 104. While you’re there, try the Lebanese restaurant’s signature item – which makes sense, given the name – a shwarma/falafel combo sandwich. Papa John’s fans will be happy to know that they can now find the pizza maker at the ballpark. And for all you Red Porch lovers, make sure to check out the expanded menu, including Jumbo Lump Crab Cheese Fries.

And of course, many of your old favorites will be back as well. Explore the updated concessions list to see them all, and we’ll see you a week from Monday!

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #11

 Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#11: The Return of The Rock

The Nationals made a number of additions this offseason, but arguably their most important transaction was simply making sure that one of their own stayed right where he belonged. Coming off a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger-winning campaign that earned him a sixth-place finish in the National League MVP race, Adam LaRoche’s return to the Nationals ensures one of the team’s best players on the field and best people off of it remains in Washington.

Non-baseball fans who know of LaRoche only from his television show Buck Commander may not realize the veteran’s significance to this young Nationals squad. Aside from the power bat that carried them when other starters were injured in 2012, LaRoche’s sure and steady hands at first base made the whole infield around him better defensively.

In his spare time, LaRoche works heavily with service members, particularly Wounded Warriors upon their return to civilian life. His influence as an experienced ballplayer and stand-up member of the community is a key component as the Nationals look to defend their National League East crown.

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #12

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#12: Old Dogs, New Tricks

You may have heard reports from camp in Viera that some of the Nationals pitchers are working on some new pitches this spring. Considering that the staff finished the 2012 season with the best ERA in the National League at 3.33, that is a very scary proposition, indeed.

Ross Detwiler has flashed a curveball that Davey Johnson claims is as good as any he’s seen the lefty throw, looking sharp in both international play at the WBC and in quieting the Detroit Tigers daunting lineup. Speaking of taming the Tigers, Jordan Zimmermann was absolutely masterful against Detroit last Sunday – and downright giddy afterwards – after showing some of the best changeups we’ve ever seen the power pitcher throw. Tyler Clippard has also expanded his repertoire, adding a curveball to pair with his already devastating changeup. How has that worked out so far? He’s allowed just two hits over 7.0 scoreless frames this spring, walking one while fanning nine.

Even Stephen Strasburg, already the owner of three plus pitches, has been working on a sinking fastball to pair with his four-seamer. We can’t wait to see all of them in action, as he throws the first pitch of the regular season a week from Monday.

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#13: The New Additions

When your team is coming off a 98-win campaign, as the Nationals are, you probably don’t want to see too many things change in the offseason. Many players are returning to reprise the roles they played in 2012, including the bulk of both the starting lineup and rotation. But Washington also made a few key upgrades, intended to help the team take that next step in the postseason.

The versatile Denard Span brings speed and a keen eye atop the batting order and, when sandwiched between Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth defensively, gives the Nationals one of the best outfield defenses in the game. Dan Haren lends a proven track record of success – along with 119 Major League wins – to solidify the rotation. And Rafael Soriano, twice a 40-save pitcher in the last three years, will anchor the back of an already talented bullpen.

For more on all three of the newest Nats, make sure to check out Issue 1 of Nationals Magazine, hitting Nationals Park on Friday, March 29 for the exhibition game with the New York Yankees!

The Big Machine

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Stephen Strasburg was pitching, Ryan Zimmerman was playing third base, and all of the Nationals regulars were in the starting lineup for the first time truly in Spring Training Saturday night. Sure, the ballpark was about 40,000 people shy of what it will be when the 2013 regular season launches in Washington, but the exhibition season finally was beginning to feel like a reality.

Most of all, it meant that the Nationals are now just three turns of the rotation away from Opening Day in Washington, just 15 days from now.

The Nationals featured their full projected Opening Day lineup for the first time Saturday night.

The Nationals featured their full projected Opening Day lineup for the first time Saturday night.

Strasburg will start that game, just as he did Saturday night against the Astros. He delivered his second consecutive strong outing, just a taste of what he might unleash on the league in his first full season. In 5.1 innings of work, he fanned eight Houston batters – including four in a row at one point – allowing just a single run. Manager Davey Johnson extended him out to 93 pitches, easily the most thrown by a Washington starter this spring.

Afterwards, Johnson called Strasburg “The Big Machine,” helping support Strasburg’s own desires expressed earlier this spring to be thought of as a workhorse for this squad. He won’t be the only one extending his work over the next week, though, as Johnson made clear after the game that starters would all be expected to play the full nine innings beginning next week.

“It’s my time, boys,” he joked. “The party’s over.”

The game itself was, thankfully, still a Spring Training affair. From the wind-blown balls that escaped Bryce Harper and former National Rick Ankiel, to the drops by both Washington and Houston players, it was not the most cleanly played of contests. But when Ryan Zimmerman charged Carlos Corporan’s slow chopper up the third base line in the second inning – his first defensive attempt of the spring – picked it cleanly, and fired a bullet across the diamond to Adam LaRoche at first base, the crowd at Space Coast Stadium began to see flashes of the hopes of what this team will become.

“I can’t remember the last bad day,” said Zimmerman in reference to throwing, after slowly rebuilding his arm strength this offseason.

Those words should be music to every Nationals fan’s ears. The party may be over, but the fun is just beginning.

Check out the Nationals lineup as they head to Lakeland to take on Detroit, and see a complete list of Spring Training results to date:

Nationals Lineup:

1. Espinosa 2B

2. Lombardozzi 3B

3. Harper CF

4. Moore RF

5. Desmond SS

6. Suzuki C

7. Tracy DH

8. Marrero 1B

9. Owings LF

P. Detwiler LHP

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4

2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5

2/27 vs. Miami – L, 5-1

2/28 vs. New York (NL) – T, 4-4

3/1 @ Atlanta – W, 6-5

3/2 @ St. Louis – W, 6-2

3/3 vs. St. Louis – W, 7-6

3/5 vs. Houston – W, 7-1

3/6 @ Philadelphia – L, 6-3

3/7 @ Houston – L, 4-2

3/8 vs. Cardinals – L, 16-10

3/9 vs. Marlins – W, 8-7

3/10 @ Detroit – L, 2-1

3/11 vs. Atlanta – L, 7-2

3/13 SS vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-5

3/13 SS @ Houston – W, 9-7

3/14 vs. Houston – W, 6-3

3/15 @ St. Louis – L, 5-1

3/16 vs. Houston – L, 4-2

Overall Record: 9-10-2

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 565 other followers