Category Archives: Injuries

The Best Laid Bullpen Plans…

Hmm there went my initial story, sort of. You know what they say about the “best laid plans”. Initially I was going to write about how painful it is for a player who has had a taste of the big leagues to be called up from AAA for one day and not give the best showing, knowing he’ll get sent back down immediately after the game. Naturally, the ultimate goal is to make it to the big club and hopefully stick. Even getting that call for one day, players want to make a positive “blow ’em away” impression and hopefully return sooner rather than later, leaving the memory of their success in the minds of those who make the decisions.

Collin Balester and his mustache were sent to the minors earlier this season to adjust to a shift from starter to the bullpen. I’d love to see “Bally” stick – he’s entertaining and fun and I like to root for the up and comers to ultimately show dominant performances and earn more MLB playing time. I could only imagine his excitement at the one day call-up intended to give the bullpen some relief the day before Ross Detwiler’s innings-limited first MLB start after hip surgery, likely necessitating heavy bullpen use during today’s final game against the Brewers. Balester’s quick call up was intended to give the bullpen a day of relief, but things didn’t exactly work out as planned.

Balester made an impression all right — on Brewers’ lead-off second baseman Rickie Weeks’s batting helmet. Read more at CSNwashington.com….

Got Plans? Zimmermann starts for P-Nats tomorrow

Jordan Zimmermann will make another start in Woodbridge tomorrow (Wednesday) for the Potomac Nationals. I highly recommend visiting the “baby Nats” and taking in a game there while the big Nats are on this incredibly long road trip. It nets you an in-person baseball fix and you get to see a starter of Natsmas past and future.

Scott Olsen will also be rehabbing with the Potomac club this weekend, but sadly when the P-Nats are the visiting team at Winston-Salem. So unless you want a road trip yourself…

Jordan Zimmermann Begins Return

Strasburg versus Zimmermann cage match. How do you choose between two young promising pitchers for the Nationals when both start on the same day, one in Nationals Park and the other on a minor league field half an hour south? I was torn about which game to attend Saturday. I hadn’t missed a home start by Stephen Strasburg yet, but I didn’t want to miss Jordan Zimmermann’s first rehab appearance on the road back from Tommy John surgery either, knowing it wouldn’t receive nearly the same amount of media coverage. That fact alone made my decision for me and I headed south, catching the Strasburg game on television instead.

Despite how rarely I get to them, I love minor league games. The intimacy of the smaller stadium and the goofy between-inning antics add to the charm. So it’s always a treat to head down to Woodbridge for a Potomac Nationals (aka Baby Nats) game to catch a rehabbing major leaguer and see some of the other prospects down on the farm. I should warn that my track record at the ‘Pfitz’ isn’t too hot. The only other visits to the single A club for games were to see John Patterson (SP) and Johnny Estrada (catcher) on rehab assignments. I don’t think you could say their careers experienced a great resurgence afterward. So it is my great hope that I didn’t somehow condemn Zimmermann by my visit.

The game against the Blue Rocks started off well… Read More at CSNwashington.com (including tantalizing photos of P-Nats who apparently attended the Tony Plush school of game-winning celebrations!)

Quick Hits – 15 Day DLers and Strasburg

No, the two things in the title have nothing to do with each other, thank goodness.

Stephen Strasburg makes his (final? close to final?) AAA start tonight at 7 PM and since it’s an off-night for the Nats, it will be televised on MASN live. Tune in NOW!

Outfielder Justin Maxwell was recalled to take SP Scott Olsen’s roster spot after he went to the 15-day disabled list. The Nats also placed catcher Pudge Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list with back tightness retroactive to yesterday 5/23. The catcher who had been catching Strasburg’s starts, Carlos Maldonado, will be called up and is on his way to San Fran now per Bill Ladson.

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No Guts No Glory? Or The Opposite?

In reading all the game coverage from last night’s 5-3 loss to the Orioles, I keep getting hung up on pitching coach Steve McCatty’s description of Scott Olsen after the game. Heading into the first game of the interleague series against the northerly neighbors, the Nationals had every reason to win, possessing the better .500 record before the game at 21-21 compared to the Orioles’ league-leading worst record at 13 wins to 29 losses. By the end of the game, the Nationals fell to one game under .500 against a pitcher who didn’t allow a hit until relief pitcher Miguel Batista smacked a single in the 5th inning. Looking at stats alone, Scott Olsen should have dominated David Hernandez and his 5+ ERA. Instead, Olsen “battled” through tightness in his pitching shoulder and the Nats found themselves in an early hole, down 4-0 by the time Batista relieved Olsen after three innings.

Since Olsen went to high school in the same little city I grew up in (attending rival South High to my alma mater Central) and is about the same age as my youngest brother, I have a kind of sisterly protectiveness of him. Yes, I’ve forgiven the gum incident. I can understand after starting the season in the minor leagues the motivation behind his attempts to gut out last night’s start.

“The kid’s a tough kid,” McCatty said later. “He wouldn’t say anything.”

Tough. That single word is often viewed as honorable among baseball players, a trait revered and praised. Yet I have to wonder how honorable it is to tough it out rather than admit when something’s off? Toughness last night put the team in an early hole and with offense playing hide-and-seek the last several days, they were unable to overcome the deficit.

On the other hand, who could have started the game after noticing something was wrong with Olsen during his pre-game bullpen session? Could Batista have pitched five or six innings after pitching two the day before? Would using a bullpen-by-committee have held up any better than Olsen through three innings?

So I’m left wondering if it’s best to tough it out or at least admit to your catcher when something is ailing the pitcher. Maybe Pudge could have tailored his pitch calls to something that would present less shoulder strain.