Results tagged ‘ Rick Eckstein ’
Jordan Zimmermann was dominant against the defending American League Champion Detroit Tigers on Monday, setting down the final 18 batters he faced after allowing a leadoff single to begin the game. And as impressive as he was in dismantling one of the best offenses in baseball, he accomplished a feat even more rare off the field just last week.
As they have done each of the last three years, a collection of Nationals players, coaches and staff joined together for a par three scramble challenge on the Doral course near Space Coast Stadium last Monday night. With the off day on Tuesday, the tradition allowed for the group to come together off the field and bond over some friendly competition.
If you didn’t already know, the Nationals feature a number of very good golfers, mostly members of the pitching staff, particularly the bullpen. Each group of four on the course had a designated A, B, C and D player, based on respective skill. Zimmermann, whose golf score hovers around his fastball – somewhere in the mid-90s, according to the pitcher – was the “C” player on Tyler Clippard’s squad, which began the day on the third hole, just over 100 yards long. And while Clippard may have been the designated “A” player, it didn’t take long for Zimmermann to establish himself as the ringer of the team.
“First swing of the day,” explained Zimmermann. “I pulled my pitching wedge, spun it back, and it went in.”
A hole-in-one on his very first swing, and style points to boot with the backspin.
Along with Clippard, Zimmermann’s team included Syracuse Chiefs hitting coach and “B” player Troy Gingrich, as well as Nationals strength and conditioning coach John Philbin, holding down the “D” player spot. Together, they combined to go 11 under par over 18 holes, forcing a playoff.
On the first playoff hole, Zimmermann again stepped up to finish what he had so masterfully started.
“He buried a 20-footer to win,” said Clippard, whose team knocked off the foursome of Drew Storen, Rick Eckstein, Harrisburg Senators pitching coach Paul Menhart and Kurt Suzuki.
It was both Clippard and Zimmermann’s first win in the tournament’s three-year history, but Philbin’s second consecutive win. Simply known as “Coach” to most in the clubhouse, they gave him a hard time for backing into his success again.
“Somehow Coach always finds his way onto the winning team,” said Zimmermann, who certainly earned the right to make the joke.
The par three scramble challenge will no doubt remain an annual tradition, as it is one of the only times all year the entire team is able to convene outside of the ballpark, just relax, and enjoy each other’s company.
“I wish we could do it once a week,” said Clippard of the event.
Of course, winning probably helps.
The Nationals hit a trio of home runs on Saturday to lead them to an 8-7 victory over the Miami Marlins. All three were hit authoritatively, each no-doubters even without the steady breeze blowing out to right field, but each meant something different to the player who hit them.
With Washington trailing 6-4, Bryce Harper fell into an 0-2 hole against lefty Brad Hand leading off the bottom of the fifth. But he beat the lefty, driving a towering shot over the raised row of billboards behind the outfield wall at Space Coast Stadium, just to the right of center field. Manager Davey Johnson was most impressed not by the clout itself, but off whom Harper blasted it.
“It was nice to see Harp hit the left-hander,” remarked Johnson of the 20-year-old, whose second roundtripper of the spring left him with a line of .462/.481/.846 at the end of the day.
Nationals fans in Viera hardly had time to sit back down before Ryan Zimmerman joined the party, taking another offering from the hand of Hand to nearly the exact same spot as Harper’s ball for his first homer of the spring. Coming off offseason shoulder surgery, both Johnson and Zimmerman insisted it was no surprise to see the face of the franchise’s batting stroke in midseason form, but that it was nice to actually see the results on the field.
“It’s always good to get a couple and start driving the ball to get some confidence,” said Zimmerman of his blast.
Zimmerman, who had only served as DH so far this spring, also had encouraging news about his throwing program, as he fully strengthens his shoulder before returning to third base.
“I don’t really have to count anymore,” he said of his practice throws across the infield. “I just go until I’m tired, then throw a few more to build off of it, and shut it down. But it feels good, I mean everything’s fine. The routine plays are fine, it’s just the ones where I have to rush and I’m not able to set my feet. My arm’s not quite strong enough to do that yet.”
The final home run of the day proved to be the game-winner, crushed off the bat of Zach Walters to break a 6-6 tie in the bottom of the eighth. It was the second home run in as many days for the young infield prospect, who has made major strides off the field in his first big league camp.
“He’s made some adjustments with (hitting coach) Rick Eckstein,” explained Johnson of the 23-year-old, who joins Harper and Anthony Rendon as the lone Nationals with multiple home runs so far this spring. “He’s learning more about who he can be and playing to his ability.”
Johnson also indicated that Walters would probably be one of the final cuts from camp, meaning that fans will get more chances to see what the young switch-hitter is capable of.
The Nationals are in Lakeland to take on the Tigers Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Check out today’s lineup and a full list of Spring Training results to date below.
1. Brown RF
2. Lombardozzi 2B
3. Harper CF
4. Ramos C
5. Moore LF
6. Tracy DH
7. Marrero 1B
8. Skole 3B
9. Rendon SS
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
Overall Record: 6-6-2
St. Louis Cardinals (71-59) vs. Washington Nationals (78-51)
LHP Jaime Garcia (3-5, 4.15) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (7-9, 3.72)
The Nationals return home coming off an 8-4 win Wednesday night in Miami to open a season-long, 11-game homestand with four games against the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals beginning Thursday night in D.C. Former Cardinal Edwin Jackson faces his old team for the first time since winning a ring with them last season.
1. Werth RF
2. Harper CF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. Morse LF
5. LaRoche 1B
6. Desmond SS
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Flores C
9. Jackson RHP
SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT
By hitting a pair of homers Wednesday at Marlins Park, Bryce Harper became just the third teenage center fielder to register a multi-homer effort. Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. (twice in ‘89: May 30 at NYY and July 5 vs. MIN) and Chicago’s Brian McCall (September 30, 1962 at NYY) predated Harper.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
Tonight, Edwin Jackson will face off against the club he spent part of the 2011 season with, eventually earning a World Series ring with the Cardinals. He helped St. Louis earn a postseason spot by going 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 13 games/12 starts with the Cards. From there, he went 1-1 with a 5.60 ERA in four October starts. Edwin earned the win, with the Cardinals facing elimination, in Game 4 of NLCS. As he makes the start tonight, note that he is winless against five franchises during career, one of which is St. Louis.
The Nationals are 7-2 in their last nine games at home against the Cardinals. However, Washington is just 1-10 at the newest version of Busch Stadium since 2008. Washington has won five of the last seven one-run games in the series. None of Washington’s five current starting pitchers have ever earned a win at the Cardinals expense. Sean Burnett bested the Cardinals on June 29, 2004 at PNC Park to notch his first big league win. Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein served as Triple-A Memphis hitting coach in ‘07 and assisted Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa at the 2005 All-Star Game at Detroit. Eckstein is also the older brother of SS David Eckstein, who was named World Series MVP in 2006. MASN’s Bob Carpenter is a St. Louis native who spent 10 seasons broadcasting Cardinals baseball on radio and TV. WFED’s Charlie Slowes began his broadcasting career at St. Louis’ KMOX, where he performed various on-air duties during broadcast of the Cardinals, the NFL Cardinals, the Blues and St. Louis University basketball from 1984-86.
DATE IN D.C. BASEBALL
August 30, 2010 – Ryan Zimmerman’s game-winning, three-run home run in the third inning triggered a 9-3 win at FLA. The blast broke a left-field electronic scoreboard that was left reading “Sun Life Stadiu” (the “m” was suddenly missing).
August 30, 2011 – The Nationals pounded out 12 hits, eight of which went for extra bases (four doubles, four home runs), in a 9-2 victory at Atlanta. In the win, Livan Hernandez worked 7.0 innings of two-run ball to register his 44th and final victory as a member of the Washington Nationals.
Recently, the Nationals played a total of 35 games in just a 34-day span, a brutal stretch of the schedule with little to no opportunity for rest. With only one off day and a pair of doubleheaders during that span, the team still managed to go 24-11 over that stretch, all while finding time to make a number of off-the-field appearances around the Washington D.C. area. Here is just a sampling of a few of the events players participated in over the last week that the team was in town.
Shortly after the Nationals completed an 8-2, three-city road trip in Houston, Arizona and San Francisco, the team boarded their flight back across the country to Washington. Their flight home landed after 2:00 a.m., and players did not get back to the ballpark, then home, until after 3:00. Nevertheless, Bryce Harper – on the first off day after that aforementioned 34-day stretch – arrived at Fairfax High School before 10:00 a.m. that same morning to help out at a free baseball clinic for 200 local area youth, including 50 from the Greater Washington Urban Baseball League. In addition to making a donation to the league, he also took the time to share hitting and fielding tips and throw some batting practice to the kids.
On the morning of August 18, following a 6-4 win over the New York Mets the night before, the Nationals coaching staff provided instruction to a group of 150 local children comprised of military families and Prince George’s County youth at the Medstar Health Youth Baseball Clinic at Nationals Park. The kids had a chance to pitch in the Nationals bullpen with Nationals Pitching Coach Steve McCatty, hit in the batting cage with Nationals Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein, and take part in outfield drills. After a morning of baseball on the field, relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus stopped by during lunch to meet everyone and sign autographs.
Finally, on August 20, after the Nationals had waited out a two-and-a-half hour rain delay the previous day against the Mets, winning the series’ rubber game, 5-2, Ryan Zimmerman made a visit to Children’s National Medical Center. In addition to visiting with children being treated for cancer and life-threatening blood disease, he autographed baseballs and hats and hand-delivered pizza and cupcakes. Zimmerman returned to the ballpark in time to reach base four times in Washington’s crucial, 13-inning win over the division-rival Braves that evening.
The Nationals enjoyed a rare off day at home Thursday before entering the final stretch of the regular season that has them slated to play 38 games in 41 days beginning Friday in Philadelphia. But despite the marathon, even the best team in baseball has found time to give back away from the diamond.
Greetings Nationals fans.
What a week for the ballclub.
In one week’s time, the offense seems to have clicked (thanks Coors Field for the spark!), we received thrilling news that we’ll have three All-Stars in Kansas City next week and we won a huge intradivision series down in Atlanta.
But perhaps most importantly, Ryan Zimmerman is again “right” offensively. I know Rick Eckstein, Davey and Ryan himself worked tirelessly to get him out of his funk. But the worm turned and he’s producing offense seemingly every night.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that you now see Michael Morse hitting the ball with authority. After almost two months without, we finally have our 3-4-5 hitters in place. The sky’s the limit.
As for next week’s All-Star Game, I really could not be happier for Ian, Gio, Stephen, their families and of course our fans.
With that said, take yourself back one calendar year. Ian was on the verge of emerging both offensively and defensively, but was not quite there yet. Gio was pitching well, at an All-Star level, but in the AL West with Oakland. And Stephen was on the verge of beginning his 6-start rehab stint in our minor-league system after having Tommy John surgery.
Nope, this All-Star trifecta was not on my radar. And I doubt it was on anyone else’s.
As for Bryce Harper’s bid for a spot on Tony La Russa’s All-Star roster, I say why not? What Bryce is doing at the age of 19 is remarkable. And to pair him with a talent like Mike Trout (age 20) on the AL side would create great theatre that is likely to last in our memories a lot longer than the game’s final score.
Thank you for your efforts to send Bryce to Kansas City. Fans turned out in droves to vote for Bryce and the Orioles Jason Hammel as part of the Beltway Ballot at mlb.com and for #BryceIn12 on Twitter.
While I am always excited for the Mid-Summer Classic, this year more than ever the game’s results just might matter to us directly. Yet another consequence of being in a pennant race I suppose. This really is fun isn’t it?
Those were enormous wins the last two days over Lincecum, Bumgarner and the Giants to begin the big homestand to close out the season’s first half. The series against the Giants is of special interest as it pits the top two teams in the NL, at least in terms of winning percentage. The Giants are coming off a big week in which they overtook the Dodgers for the top spot in the NL West. Should be a great finale tonight.
I hope you had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July and I’ll see you at the ballpark.
There will be days like this, in 2012. Days when Stephen Strasburg is not on the mound, when the middle of the lineup, the brand name stars, do not carry the offense. And while it may not feel this way, these games will count just as much as the ones that get all the attention. If the Nationals are to make this season a successful one, they’ll have to win these games too, just as they did on Monday, when John Lannan and Roger Bernadina led the way in a 7-4 victory over the Astros in Viera.
As manager Davey Johnson is still trying to figure out his final outfield roster for Opening Day, Bernadina is making a strong late push for more playing time. After a fairly quiet spring, “The Shark” has flipped the switch over the last two games, combining to go 5-for-6 with a walk, two home runs and six RBI. A suddenly dialed-in Bernadina could go a long way in extending the depth of the lineup with Michael Morse still in question for Opening Day.
Bernadina thanks hitting coach Rick Eckstein for helping him with an adjustment that he credits with the difference in his performance.
“I’ve been working on my direction towards the field,” Bernadina explained after thumping a two-run shot to deep right-center in his final at-bat Monday. “For me, it’s just the key. When I’m coming off, pulling off pitches, I have no chance at breaking balls, off-speed pitches.”
It’s not just the timing of his swing that is on track right now. He couldn’t have picked a better time to start hitting, with just over a week left before the beginning of the regular season.
“It’s always good to get going at the end (of Spring Training),” he admitted. “Definitely.”
As for one of the other most talked-about competitions in camp, the fifth starter role is officially Lannan’s. Johnson made the announcement even before Lannan earned his second win of the spring with five solid innings of work, over which he allowed a couple runs while fanning five. He will give the Nationals a second lefty – along with Gio Gonzalez – to complement righties Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson. The decision also means Ross Detwiler, who followed Lannan’s start on Monday, will come of out the bullpen as the swing-man in April.
We also got our first look at a save situation since Johnson announced Drew Storen may not be ready in time for Opening Day. Henry Rodriguez, who earned a pair of saves last season, put the Astros away quietly to preserve the victory.
We’ll have details tomorrow on the par-3 challenge that a good number of the players and coaches are participating in Monday evening. For now, here are the team’s results to date:
vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0
@ Houston – L, 3-1
vs. Houston – L, 10-2
@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1
@ Atlanta – W, 5-2
vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3
vs. Houston – W, 8-0
@ Miami – L, 3-0
vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2
@ Detroit – T, 5-5
@ St. Louis – Canceled (rain)
vs. St. Louis – W, 8-4
vs. Detroit – L, 6-3
@ Atlanta – L, 6-5
vs. New York (AL) – L, 8-5
@ New York (AL) – L, 4-3 (10)
vs. Miami – T, 1-1
vs. Detroit – L, 11-7
@ New York (NL) – L, 2-0
vs. Atlanta – L, 3-2 (10)
@ St. Louis – L, 9-0
@ Houston – L, 5-1
@ Baltimore – L, 12-3
vs. New York (NL) – W, 12-0
vs. Houston – W, 7-4
@ Miami – Tuesday, 1:05pm
Overall Record: 7-13-3
Last Saturday, the Nationals launched the 2011 Chevy Youth Baseball Clinics, a series of monthly clinics held at Nationals Park as part of the team’s efforts to increase participation in youth baseball and softball programs in the National Capital region.
Approximately 150 youth baseball and softball athletes from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia as well as local military children will be invited to take part in the free clinics, which feature hands-on instruction from Nationals coaches. In addition to taking part in drills on the field, in the batting cages and in the bullpen, participants will also enjoy Q&A sessions with the coaches in the Nationals dugout.
Saturday’s clinic was made available to children ranging from ages 5 to 12 from Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission of Prince George’s County. Participants could also sign up for the clinic through Chevy Motors.
Despite the soaring temperatures, the children in attendance were ready and willing to learn from the pros. The kids began their morning under the direction of assistant trainer Mike McGowan, who taught them how to properly stretch their muscles and offered tips on injury prevention.
The children were then divided into groups and rotated between stations led by coaches Pat Corrales, Rick Eckstein, Steve McCatty and Bo Porter.
In the batting cages, Eckstein offered tips on how to properly get into a hitting position and taught the same drills he uses with the Nationals. He stressed that baseball is a hard game.
“Hitting is arguably one of the toughest skills to do in all of sports and failure comes with that,” he said. “It’s learning to handle that failure so you can be successful. You can’t put your head down, you can’t pout, you can’t throw your helmet around.”
Byron Thompson, the sports coordinator for Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission of Prince George’s County, was excited to bring kids from his jurisdiction out to Nationals Park.
“These clinics give our kids realistic goals that they can see, hear, touch and smell. They get to see what a Major League Baseball player, coach, stadium and experience is all about,” Thompson said. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids, who get time to interact with some players and maybe learn something their coaches didn’t get a chance to talk about at their level.”
Once the clinic wrapped up, the kids were treated to lunch in the Family Picnic Area, followed by a visit from Nationals All-Star pitcher Tyler Clippard, who signed autographs and posed for photos with clinic participants.
“It’s important to get these kids out here, to teach them various skills and get them involved in the game of baseball,” Clippard said. “I started playing at a young age and that’s what happened to me. It’s a great social environment that encourages team building, and hopefully many of these kids will grow to love the game as a result of these clinics.”
Grapefruit League Opening Day Eve here on the Space Coast.
My name is John Dever and I’m the Baseball PR contact for your Nationals. To write this blog, I get lots of guidance and observations from Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna, my PR confidants, so I thank them for their contributions.
Lots happening… so let’s get started.
* Today’s high will reach 86 degrees. Almost toasty, yes, but comfortable thanks to a gentle breeze. So, the perfect spring continues. Last year, it may not have hit 70 degrees during the February workouts. This year, at least since pitchers and catchers reported on Feb. 15, the temps have not dipped below 70, with temps comfortably in the high 70s during the late-morning workouts.
* Jim Riggleman brought up a good point this morning during his session with the assembled media. This spring’s perfect weather to date has allowed the Nationals to get everything that they needed in. Every drill that Jim Riggleman and Spring Training Coordinator Bobby Henley scheduled went off without a hitch. Every one. That NEVER happens. And this should give the Nationals a sense of comfort heading into the Grapefruit League schedule, which begins tomorrow. The team is ready. [VIDEO: More Riggleman]
* Rick Ankiel is an interesting guy. Most know his story. A stud-pitcher-turned-outfielder who signed with the Nationals in December without a guaranteed starting spot. Well, one of the drawing cards for Ankiel was likely his preexisting relationship with Nationals hitting guru Rick Eckstein. After retiring as a pitcher, Ankiel immediately jumped back into St. Louis’ Minor League system in the hopes of becoming an outfielder. Ankiel and Eckstein worked together in Triple-A Memphis in 2008, things “clicked” and the results were phenomenal. Ankiel hit 32 home runs in 102 Pacific Coast League games before being summoned by the Cardinals on August 9, 2008. The hot streak did not end there, as Ankiel hit 11 more bombs in 43 games with the Cardinals. In fact, that summer, Ankiel’s 43 homers led the Cardinals entire organization, as Albert Pujols only (only?) hit 37. So, here’s hoping things “click” again for Ankiel and Eckstein and that they can regain their momentum from the summer of 2008.
* We’ve “talked” a lot about Danny Espinosa’s conversion from shortstop to second base. Which begs the question: who made a similar conversion early in their career? The two best-case scenarios for Nationals fans to salivate over are Alfonso Soriano (a shortstop in the Yankees’ organization, converted to second base in 2001) and Brandon Phillips (a shortstop in the Expos’ organization, converted to second base in 2003). Now, both are All-Stars and Espinosa is not yet at that level, but it does go to show that this type of position change has occurred before and the results have been favorable both offensively and defensively (especially in the case of Phillips).
* With Davey Johnson in camp as an advisor to Mike Rizzo, it’s hard to believe that this is the 25th Anniversary of the iconic 1986 Mets. Where has the time gone. Well, actually, Nationals fans and Beltway baseball junkies likely best remember Davey for his playing days and later his successful managerial stint with the Orioles.
* Today’s “Four Questions” victim will be first baseman Chris Marrero, but before we channel our inner-Marrero, let’s take a look at his career. Marrero, as most know, was the Nationals’ first-rounder in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He was drafted out of Monsignor Pace High School in Miami Gardens, Fla. His assent through Washington’s system has not been as rapid as some outsiders would like, but it has been steady. He has averaged a long ball every 29.6 at-bats in five seasons as a pro. That is not a number to sneeze at. Yes, the level is dramatically different, but here are three National Leaguers who averaged a homer every 29-or-so at-bats last season: Jason Heyward (28.9), Justin Upton (29.1) and Casey Blake (29.9). All three are very good ballplayers, and in the case of Heyward and Upton, two of the great young players in the game. Marrero, who had Lasik surgery in the offseason, has immense power and his career is trending in the right direction. Alright, back to “Four Questions”…
Favorite Team/Player as a Youth?: Marlins, Frank Thomas (wonder if he knows that Mike Rizzo signed Big Frank?)
Favorite Game Show of all-time?: Deal or No Deal (he attended a taping of this show a few years back)
Favorite Superhero?: Spider Man (might help him with some errant throws at first base)
Most apt to watch CNN, Food Network or Travel Channel (and list favorite show)?: None of the above. My favorite show is re-runs of “Vegas” on TNT (with all of the bad shows on network TV, why was this show canceled. Seriously perplexing).
OK, that’s a wrap for today. Tomorrow, look for Mark Lerner to jump into the blogging fray as the Nationals travel to St. Lucie to take on the Mets. He will be your primary blogger going forward, but I may jump back in here and there. Thanks for your interest in the Nationals and see you at the ballpark. Oh, you can also follow us on Twitter (@NationalsPR).
Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2010 MLB Winter Meetings, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on in Orlando. Check back often for the latest updates.
Good morning, Natstown. The Winter Meetings are all wrapped up, and now we are getting ready to board a plane to head home to Washington.
This morning, the Winter Meetings concluded with the annual Rule 5 Draft. Mike Rizzo and his staff feel really good about the players we selected: right-handed pitchers Elvin Ramirez and Brian Broderick in the Major League phase, and right-hander Michael Allen in the Triple-A phase of the Draft.
For those fans who arent familiar with the Rule 5 Draft, check out this link.
Its always entertaining to watch the mass exodus that takes place as soon as the final selection is made in the Rule 5 Draft. Almost instantaneously, everybody rushes the draft room doors then the taxi stand at the hotel in an effort to get out of town.
What an exciting five days since we arrived in Orlando on Sunday we head back to The District having added one of baseballs top outfield sluggers and three Rule 5 pitchers, and foundations have been laid that may lead to additional signing or trades that could impact the Nationals organization in 2011 and beyond.
I, personally, cant wait for Spring Training to begin in a mere two months!
One quick update… Got word that both Rick and Ken Eckstein are doing well today, following yesterday’s kidney transplant. Rick is up and moving around and may be able to head home from the hospital as early as tomorrow. What an amazing story.
Thanks to everybody who took the time to read my blog from the MLB Winter Meetings. This is something I hope to do from time to time to give fans an inside view of the Washington Nationals.
Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2010 MLB Winter Meetings, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on in Orlando. Check back often for the latest updates.
Day 3 of the MLB Winter Meetings is in the books. It was another busy day in the Nationals team suite. Everybody had their jobs to do, but Rick Eckstein was never far from our thoughts.
In case you missed yesterdays blog, Rick donated a kidney today to his older brother Ken. We got word late in the day that both brothers are doing well, but our thoughts and prayers remain with them.
Tonight, we hosted our minor league affiliates for a reception here at the Dolphin Hotel. Top officials from Syracuse (Triple-A), Harrisburg (Double-A), Potomac (Single-A), Hagerstown (Single-A), Auburn (Rookie) and Viera (Rookie) were all in attendance. We are very fortunate to have such a great lineup of affiliates. I always enjoy connecting with the people who run those affiliates, as they are an important part of the Nationals family. Our affiliates take wonderful care of our young prospects and always work hard to sustain an environment conducive to development.
Also, I had another opportunity today to visit the baseball tradeshow. It seems like the tradeshow gets bigger each year, with hundreds of vendors offering products and services. We are proud of the Nationals Park experience including everything from the merchandise and food options that we offer to giveaways and this is an opportunity each year to see the new options available to make sure we remain at the forefront in the industry.
I will ink my final blog from the Winter Meetings midday on Thursday, following MLBs Rule 5 Draft. Then, we fly home to Washington. Stay tuned.