Results tagged ‘ Wounded Warrior Amputee Celebrity Softball Classic ’

Meet the Team: Part I

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The third annual Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Celebrity Softball Classic takes place this Sunday, September 15, following the Nationals home game vs. the Philadelphia Phillies. Throughout the week, we will introduce you to two members of the team – one celebrity participant and one of the Wounded Warriors who will participate.


Born: 1986 in Sarasota, Florida

Position: Shortstop

WWCSC Experience: First Year

Desmond is better known as the better half of Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, though she’s handled the infield’s most challenging defensive position as well, playing there for the State College of Florida. A mother of two young boys, 2013 will mark her first appearance in the Wounded Warrior Celebrity Softball Classic.

“I did make a public comment that I taught Ian everything he knows, so this is my chance to own it. I have to really show my people where he got this from.”


Born: 1989 in Cambellsport, Wisconsin

Position: Utility

WWCSC Experience: Third Year

Wege is a US Marine who underwent a bilateral leg amputation below the knees following his tour in Operation Enduring Freedom. Those who watched this year’s All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game may recognize Wege from his co-MVP performance, in which he homered off future Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas. He has participated in Wounded Warrior Celebrity Softball Classic contests in both 2011 and 2012.

A Day To Remember

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Baseball and the events of September 11th, 2001 are inexorably bound by history. The only sport that was active in its regular season with games scheduled the day of the attacks, the entire sport was brought to a standstill for a full week. The charters set to carry Major League clubs around the country for the final month of the regular season were grounded by the FAA, and the nation sat shocked, confused, and perhaps not yet ready to watch baseball. But like all aspects of daily life, the game returned, and the delay in schedule led to more memorable moments in the sport’s history, like the creation of Mr. November – a nickname that could only have come about with the adjusted schedule – and the most exciting World Series of a generation.

The ribbon boards displayed long before the gates opened at Citi Field.

Tonight, for the first time ever, the Nationals and Mets – the home teams of the two cities most directly affected by the national tragedy – will meet on the yearly observance of the events, at Citi Field in Flushing. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson spent the morning at Ground Zero, along with other athletes and dignitaries, helping raise money for Homes for Heroes, whose mission is to aid the military, police, firefighters and other first responders. Fittingly, the Nationals will wear their Patriotic Blue jerseys for the first time ever away from Nationals Park.

With the Citi Field ribbon board adorned with a “We Remember” banner around the ballpark, there will no doubt be a solemn feel to the crowd. However, in the streets of New York today, you wouldn’t have known it was different than any other day. Aside from the television and radio reports, tourists shopped and dined, locals commuted to and from work, and life marched on. And tonight, just as we did 11 years ago, we will pick up the bats and the balls and the gloves, and there will be baseball played all around the land. For many of us, the simple fact that this will be a normal Tuesday, one that will end with another edition of America’s pastime playing out in front of us, brings the most comforting sense of victory of all.

* * *

Before we look forward to tonight, here are a couple quick notes from Monday night’s series-opening win over the Mets. The Nationals took advantage of an early mistake, as just two pitches after Kurt Suzuki’s foul pop was dropped behind home plate in foul ground by Kelly Shoppach, he drilled a solo home run over the left-field wall to give Washington a lead it would never relinquish. The Nats played solid defense, Gio Gonzalez was slightly wild but still very effective, and the offense chipped in two more early home runs in a 5-1 finish.

Ryan Zimmerman and the offense are off to a powerful start to September.

Such seemingly easy victories can make losses like Sunday’s 8-0 shutout at the hands of Ricky Nolasco all the more frustrating, but sometimes those things happen in baseball. Certain pitchers own certain teams, just as certain batters own certain pitchers – it’s simply a part of the game. And the fact that the Nationals came right back from that lackluster performance to bury Collin McHugh with three homers in the game’s first four innings should be as reassuring as anything that Sunday’s game was the exception, not the norm. After all, the Nationals have now hit 27 home runs through their first 10 games of September, a full 11 more than the next closest team in the National League (Milwaukee, 16). Nats fans can also take comfort in the knowledge that Washington will not face Nolasco and the Marlins again until the 2013 season.

Tonight, R.A. Dickey will look to match Gonzalez’s 19 victories, matching up against Jordan Zimmermann. In a Mets season whose promise has gone by the wayside since the All-Star Break, Dickey’s stunning success in 2012 has given the New York fans something to cheer for down the stretch. He and Gonzalez are two of the front-runners for the National League Cy Young award, which will add some extra intrigue to how well the knuckleballer fares against the Nationals tonight, after Gonzalez handcuffed the Mets hitters on Monday.

The Brightest Stars

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Matt Kinsey doffs his cap to the crowd in Kansas City.

When Matt Kinsey and Saul Bosquez – members of the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team – found out they would be a part of this year’s All-Star festivities in Kansas City, they felt like they had already hit the jackpot. Their invitation to take part in the 2012 Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball game alongside actors, musicians and baseball greats was reward enough in and of itself. But as Kinsey, Bosquez and all of the Wounded Warriors have reminded us in the past, they don’t play for show. They play to win.

A group of D.C. celebrities and sports figures learned that lesson the hard way first hand back in April, when the Wounded Warriors torched them, 17-4, in an exhibition game at Nationals Park. So it should come as no surprise to any readers who are familiar with their story that the two would come out swinging in Kansas City.

Bosquez started at shortstop – a premiere defensive position – for the American League team and went a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI. He could not have been more pleased with his performance, or more grateful for the opportunity to play on such a stage.

“Besides the birth of my son, this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Bosquez said. “We’re so proud to be here and to wear the Curly W.”

But Kinsey was not to be outdone. Playing first base opposite his fellow Wounded Warrior, he went 3-for-3 as well, and belted a home run to key his team’s 21-8 victory. As a result, Kinsey took home the ultimate honor: he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Just like Bosquez, Kinsey too was full of nothing but thanks for his chance to shine.

“To take the field representing the Washington Nationals and play with so many celebrities and Hall of Famers in front of thousands of fans was one of the biggest honors of my life,” Kinsey said.

You can catch Kinsey and Bosquez’s memorable performances tonight beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET following the State Farm Home Run Derby on ESPN.

Already All-Stars

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The Washington Nationals have had plenty of All-Star worthy campaigns in 2012, from the stellar pitching atop the rotation and throughout the bullpen, to the comeback year by Adam LaRoche and the breakout campaigns of Ian Desmond and rookie Bryce Harper. But the Nationals are already guaranteed to send a pair of their own to the All-Star Game: two members of the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.

The squad of veterans and active duty servicemen made its triumphant return to Nationals Park on April 3, playing in front of an overwhelmingly supportive crowd in an easy victory over a team of Washington-area celebrities. They have since gone on to play – and defeat – able-bodied competition throughout the season, once again proving that “life without a limb is limitless.” On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced that two members of the team will be invited to play in the 2012 Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game in Kansas City on July 8. Third baseman Saul Bosquez and shortstop Matt Kinsey will join celebrities like actor Jon Hamm, U.S. National Soccer Team captain Carlos Bocanegra, NFL quarterback Matt Cassel, and a host of former Major Leaguers for the nationally-televised event.

Matt Kinsey will play shortstop in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game.

When Kinsey was first told of the opportunity a couple of days ago by coach David Van Sleet, he thought he was on the wrong end of a practical joke.

“David called me the other day and told me,” explains Kinsey. “I thought he was joking around at first. I’ve never even been to an All-Star Game. So to get to play at it and attend all the events? It’s unbelievable.”

One of the most refreshing parts about chatting with the Wounded Warriors is how grateful they are for the opportunities presented to them. For those of us that work in the game, the magic of stepping out onto a Major League field can wear off as the act becomes routine. Not for Kinsey and Bosquez.

“It gets me every time,” says Bosquez about stepping onto the grass. “It doesn’t even have to be a Major League field – it means so much just for us to be stepping out on the field period. Most of us never thought we would be doing anything like this.”

Kinsey and Bosquez will get the real Major League treatment, too, as they are competing in a trio of games in Wisconsin on Saturday, and have to fly into Kansas City on Sunday morning to make it to Kaufmann Stadium in time for the game. For the duo, who have each been with the team since its inception in the Spring of 2011, it’s all still a bit overwhelming. They marvel at the progress that has been made in just over a year’s time.

Saul Bosquez, who has also been with the team since the beginning, is living the dream.

“To be there at the start, and to see where it’s at now, I would have never dreamed it,” admits Kinsey.

“It’s huge for the both of us and huge for the team,” adds Bosquez. “The best ballplayers are going to be on one field, and we get to play there. It’s surreal. I’m having trouble putting it into words.”

More so than the celebrities, the Wounded Warriors are looking forward to meeting the former players who will be taking part in the game, particularly the likes of Ozzie Smith, Ernie Banks and Mike Piazza. As a shortstop, Kinsey may have to compete with Ozzie, one of his childhood idols, for playing time.

“I don’t think I could quite kick Ozzie out of short,” he laughs. “I’d be happy to play anywhere.”

If the Wounded Warriors have the same effect in Kansas City as they have had on those around the rest of the country the last year, we get the feeling their teammates for the game will be happy to let them shine in the national spotlight.

The Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game will follow the State Farm Home Run Derby and will be televised on ESPN, beginning at approximately 10:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 8.

A Hero Comes Home

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During every game at Nationals Park, after the hometown nine have finished batting in the third inning, fans are directed to the landing behind the homeplate screen, where a group of military veterans are recognized. The Nationals are the only team to carry this tradition at each game, and fans and players alike – both home and away – respond the same way every time, with a standing ovation. The moment is always touching, as is the show of solidarity as we all take a moment away from the game to remember what really matters.

At the same time, each of those veterans has his or her own individual story. Following the preseason exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, both players and fans were introduced to the group that comprises the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. Nationals players had a chance to meet a few of them and get to know some of our more recently wounded warriors better in a recent trip to Walter Reed. But there was another story, one that flew under the radar for most, that played out at Nationals Park earlier this year.

Petty Officer Christopher Karnbach, an intelligence specialist in the Navy Reserves, was set to take off on deployment to Cuba last July when he began looking at special services to help his two children, Abby and Christopher Jr., while he was away. Unfortunately, with his deployment running into May, he would have to miss Opening Day at Nationals Park, something he had attended with his son the year prior and intended to become a father-son tradition.

The Karnbach family reunited in April.

“I managed to sneak in Abby’s birthday before I left and Christopher’s birthday was in February so I bought him tickets for Opening Day,” said Karnbach. “We had played hooky from school last year and we came in and saw the game. With me being gone, I had called my wife up and asked, ‘if I get him tickets for Opening Day, will you take him?’ She called in sick and they had a blast.”

Even though he couldn’t be there in person this year, Karnbach was following the game from Cuba. He was able to pick it up on television just in time to see the game go into extra innings.

“I ran home as fast as I could just to see Ryan Zimmerman score that last run,” he recalled. “Then I started texting (my family) like crazy.”

Without baseball to bring them together, Karnbach looked into other programs available for his children through the military’s family services. Both Abby and Christopher Jr. enrolled in martial arts, and Karnbach’s wife Ann-Marie would keep dad updated on their progress. Little did he know that the Navy would find out about his family’s involvement in the programs and decide to award them Military Family of the Year.

Karnbach was not set to return to the states until May, but it was arranged for him to come home a few weeks early to attend a special ceremony in which he would receive the honor. The only catch, was that he could not tell his family in advance, as the ceremony – and family reunion – would be a surprise.

There was just one problem – Karnbach arrived home a day early, and found himself stuck, unable to go home for fear of ruining the festivities planned for the next day. So, he hid out the one place where he knew he could relax, calm his nerves, and blend into the crowd.

“I had a full day in Maryland, and I’m this close to home,” Karnbach explained. “I was like, ‘I am going to see the Nats play.’”

The baseball side of Karnbach’s story could have ended there. After all, little did Karnbach know that Nationals television broadcaster F.P. Santangelo would be present at his family’s reunion the next day.

The Karnbach family takes part in the Military Salute at Nationals Park on April 19.

“It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” said Santangelo. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I’ve never seen behind the scenes what it puts a family through. To see kids without their fathers, without their mothers who have been deployed, then to watch him come home, it was really touching and moving.”

Santangelo was so touched by the whole experience, he offered to bring the whole family out to the ballpark as his personal guests that night.

“(After I) watched the game Wednesday night I thought ‘alright, I got my Nats fix in,’” said Karnbach. “And then when we met, (Santangelo) said ‘here’s my number, call me and I can get you some tickets.’ My wife was like ‘we’re going.’ I said ‘I haven’t even been home yet.’ She said ‘we’re going.’ So I was like ‘OK, we’re going.'”

As a result, Karnbach got his proper welcome home with his fellow vets at the end of the third inning. Right on cue, before the military salute, Zimmerman blasted his first home run of the season, a three-run shot into the visitor’s bullpen that sent Karnbach cheering. It was obvious he was still a bit overwhelmed and just amazingly grateful for everything that had happened to bring him and his family back together that night.

“To me, this is just the coolest thing ever,” he said. “Everything the Nationals have done for my family, and me, this is great.”

For the Nationals, it is stories like Karnbach’s that make everything else worthwhile.

For more on Karnbach’s story, watch the video of his family’s reunion here.

Weekly Review (4/9)

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Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day storylines, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.

After a long spring, the Nationals made their much-anticipated return to Washington to begin the 2012 season. Following one final game in Florida against the Red Sox at their brand new Grapefruit League home, JetBlue Park, the two teams squared off again in our Nation’s Capital. While the Nationals made a valiant comeback, rallying from a 6-0 deficit to take a late lead, the real story of the day came in the second game played on the field, as the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team soundly defeated a group of D.C. celebrities.

The Nationals hit the road to officially open the season, sending Stephen Strasburg to the hill at historic Wrigley Field for his first-ever Opening Day start. Washington couldn’t break through to provide the heralded right-hander with any run support during his seven strong innings, but rallied with single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to steal a 2-1 victory. Meanwhile, as the team enjoyed an off-day on Friday, outfielders Rick Ankiel and Michael Morse were just up the road from D.C. in Bowie, MD on Major League rehab stints with the Harrisburg Senators. Both players looked just fine at the plate, as each homered in a 5-2 victory.

On Saturday, the Nationals continued their come-from-behind ways, trailing by two late before a five-run, two-out rally in the eighth inning keyed a 7-4 victory. Sunday’s game began to follow the same script, as Washington cut a three-run deficit to one on Adam LaRoche’s two-out, two-run shot in the ninth. However, the team’s third comeback attempt in three days came up just shy in a 4-3 loss to the Cubs.

Thu. @ CHC: W, 2-1

Sat. @ CHC: W, 7-4

Sun. @ CHC: L, 4-3

Weekly Record: 2-1

A National Honor

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Few professional sports teams are as involved with their communities as the Washington Nationals are with the U.S. Military. That commitment to our nation’s armed forces extends beyond the In-Game Military salute at each home game, also including the Me and a Friend Program, the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team and team visits to military hospitals.

On Thursday night, the USO of Metropolitan Washington (USO-Metro) recognized the club for its efforts with a very special award at its 30th Annual Awards Dinner. The event – which featured a black tie dress code for civilians and full formal dress for all military members – was held at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Arlington, and featured high-ranking officials from both the military and the private sector. More than 500 guests in all packed the sold-out gala, which helped raise more than $630,000 for USO-Metro.

Mark D. Lerner accepts the Legacy of Hope Award from Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Jay R. Vargas, U.S. Marine Corps.

The Nationals were well represented at this special event, which also marked the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. Screech and the Racing Presidents were present, and each place setting featured a baseball with the date of the gala as well as both the USO logo and the familiar Curly W. The Lerner family was in attendance, not only to commemorate the occasion but also to accept the Bob Hope Legacy Award, named after the legendary entertainer for all he did for America’s military.

Nationals Principal Owner and Vice Chairman Mark D. Lerner accepted the award on behalf of both the Lerner family and the entire Nationals organization. He shared the following words of gratitude with those in attendance upon receiving the honor:

Thank you everyone. On behalf of the Washington Nationals organization and the entire Lerner family, I’d like to thank the USO of Metropolitan Washington for recognizing our team with this year’s Legacy of Hope Award. 

My parents Annette and Ted Lerner grew up in the D.C. area, and my sisters Marla Tanenbaum and Debra Cohen and I were raised here. It’s impossible to live here and not be aware of the sizeable contributions made by our military members and their families. Few of us can ever comprehend how much each service-member – as well as their wives, husbands, children and parents – sacrifice in order to serve our country.

As the stewards of the national pastime in the Nation’s Capital, we believe that making a difference in the lives of the men and women who fight for our country is one of the most fulfilling things we can do, and we are always looking for new ways to pay tribute and support them and their families. 

Bob Hope’s generosity and dedication was legendary. I’m pleased that the Nationals can – in whatever small way – continue his tradition and hopefully inspire future generations to support our service men and women.

I am humbled to be among so many Medal of Honor recipients and their families here tonight – and, on behalf of my family and the Washington Nationals, I want to thank you once again for your service.

Weekly Review (2/27)

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Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday morning of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day storylines, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.

Spring Training began as Nationals pitchers and catchers reported to Viera. Although the official position player report date was not until midweek, most players were in camp several days early. Senior Director of Media Relations John Dever began his (almost) daily musings on the notable events each day in Spring Training. Anthony Rendon stopped by to showcase his sweet swing and chat for a few minutes about his first big league camp.

We enjoyed a visit from ESPN on campus at Space Coast Stadium, and were even able to snag an interview with Tim Kurkjian about his outlook on the team. Also, a rocket launched from the nearby Kennedy Space Center.

The Nationals proudly hosted the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team for a couple days of practice in advance of their April 3 game at Nationals Park (following the Nationals-Red Sox exhibition).

The franchise’s first-ever draft pick and everyday third baseman since the end of the 2005 season, Ryan Zimmerman signed an extension that will keep him in a Nationals uniform through at least the 2019 season, with an option for 2020. Both Dever and Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner opined their perspectives of the signing.

For Love Of The Game

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Every professional sports organization finds ways to involve themselves in their communities. The Washington Nationals are no different, but there is one particular cause that the team has taken up over the last couple of years which stands out above the rest.


Last September, the Nationals hosted the inaugural Wounded Warrior Amputee Celebrity Softball Classic in the District. This spring, the Washington Nationals are excited to host the second annual Wounded Warrior Amputee Celebrity Softball Classic following the Nationals-Red Sox exhibition game at Nationals Park on April 3. This special post-game event is free and open to any fans with a valid ticket for the 3:05 exhibition game.

The softball team, which is comprised of retired and active duty service members who have lost limbs while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, will once again compete against a group of D.C.-area celebrities in hopes of defending the title they handily earned in last year’s game.  Using the latest in prosthetic technology, these extraordinary athletes travel around the country playing only able-bodied opponents in an effort to bring attention to the sacrifice and resilience of our military service members.

Fans may purchase tickets through a special ticket link at, nearly two weeks before single game tickets go on sale to the general public on March 8. A portion of the proceeds from each ticket sold though the link will be donated to the softball team. Stay tuned to for more details to come.

To see the Wounded Warriors in action this weekend in Viera, check out the video below. For more information about the project and to donate to the cause, please visit .

Ready For Launch

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John Dever is the Senior Director of Media Relations for the Washington Nationals. As a team employee in close contact with the players, coaches and front office throughout Spring Training, he will bring an inside look at the happenings in Viera in Dever’s (Almost) Daily Diary throughout February and March.

Friday was another beautiful, beautiful day here in Viera. If anything, it might have been a tad too hot. I think temps topped off at either 84 or 85 degrees. By sunset, it was perfect as a small-yet-comfortable breeze kept everyone company. And the sunset was something too.

We also enjoyed the blast off of a NASA Atlas V Rocket about 5 pm. Footage can be seen here:

With the Space Shuttle program newly retired, we are left with these impressive rocket launches to remind us why this area is known as the Space Coast.

*Matt Purke threw an impressive bullpen yesterday and afterwards Davey was asked about it. In reference to Purke, he spoke to the organization’s philosophy when it comes to integrating college pitchers, who regularly throw one game a week, into the professional game, which is obviously predicated (at present) on a 5-man rotations. Well, the man in charge of this integration is Spin Williams, and knowing him a bit, there is not a better person for the job.

As Davey explained, Spin takes all of our college starters and asks them to join 6-man rotations in the lowest levels of our system. They look at the 6-man rotation as a mid-way point. Then after that initial summer (3 months or so) as a pro, these starters begin to train for a 5-man rotation in the spring entering their first full season. This is where Purke is right now – the first week of his initial Spring Training as a pro.

*You have probably read that Edwin Jackson will get the start for the Nationals’ SPRING opener on March 3 at Houston. Definitely newsworthy. But Davey also mentioned that Edwin took his bullpen “up a notch” on Friday. That made me blink, because during his bullpen on Wednesday, I could have sworn he was throwing 93-94.

*Folks, this pitching staff’s collective talents, velocity and stuff is REAL. This is beyond hype. Let’s ground ourselves a bit, but sum it up this way. When talking about “stuff,” I think that the any our top four starters (Strasburg, Gio, J-Zimmermann, Edwin) would have been our Opening Day starter in any season from 2005-11. Think about that.

*Proof that baseball is full of changeups. Davey has decided to stage the final 3-4 days of camp back here at Space Coast Stadium and Field 5, which is located just adjacent to SCS. Traditionally, the club had worked out at the 4.5 cloverleaf fields located a quarter mile down the road at the Washington Nationals Training Complex. But Davey’s feeling is that the players need to get as accustomed to SCS and its various nuances ASAP. I like it.

*I hope you were able to see some of ESPN’s coverage of your Nationals as part of their Spring Training bus series. I had a couple of conversations with Tim Kurkjian and John Kruk and both apologized that the developing Ryan Braun storyline would squash some of their Nationals focus. They were not happy about it, but breaking news is breaking news. They did assure me that The Mothership (hat tip: Dan Patrick) is more than aware of our various storylines and steady assent as a franchise. Tim K. promised me (us!) they would be paying your Nationals more attention this summer than we’ve been accustomed to. Tim K. is a fantastic journalist, and it is an added bonus for us that is lives locally and is therefore exposed to our tales more so than others who don’t live in The DMV.

*Interesting glimpse into how your manager thinks:

“Anyone in this camp with us, I am under the assumption that they could help us this year.” – Davey, Feb. 24th

This soundbite caught my ear especially in reference to his recent comments that—outside of unforeseen injury issues (knock on wood)—there are only 3 roster spots available this spring. With all of the up-and-coming talent in that clubhouse, this seemed like a pragmatic approach. Every glimpse we see here in the Grapefruit League should not be taken solely in context to April 5 at Wrigley Field. If you are thinking along with our manager, you’ll be watching or reading with an eye on the not-too distant future.

*The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team began their Spring workouts on Friday at our complex. This group of soldiers/ballplayers are simply terrific human beings we should all be proud of. They will be touring our country this spring, summer and fall sharing their message and providing free jolts of inspiration. The Nationals are honored to be hosting the 2012 Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Classic at Nationals Park on Tue., April 3rd following the exhibition game against the Red Sox. For more information about the WWAST, please visit