These past eight days, the Nationals broke camp in Viera, played an exciting exhibition game in D.C. (which presaged the Boston Red Sox’ proclivity for last-inning meltdowns), and, best of all, finally began the regular season with two, and nearly three, late-inning comeback victories against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field. The season’s first series had a month full of story lines, including Stephen Strasburg’s first Opening Day start, Gio Gonzalez’s Nationals debut, and the emergence of Chad Tracy as Washington’s newest and most unlikely baseball hero. Brad Lidge, in nail-biting fashion and Henry (MPHRod) Rodriguez, in dominating fashion, each closed out one of the Nationals’ first two victories of 2012.
Lot of other story lines clarified — Michael Morse (slated to return to the Nats on April 10) and Rick Ankiel (April 12) began rehab assignments for the AA Harrisburg Senators and helped the Sens win three of four in a road series against the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore’s AA affiliate). Closer Drew Stroren and presumed fifth starter Chien-Ming Wang are expected to return in late April. The arrival of these four players will result in some difficult roster decisions for Washington’s general manager Mike Rizzo. Rizzo already made on tough call, sending long-time Nats stalwart and two-time Opening Day starter John Lannan to AAA. Lannan responded by requesting a trade. Davey Johnson said that was not likely to happen.
In the minors, Bryce Harper got off to a solid start for AAA Syracuse, but continued to struggle versus left-handed pitching, an issue he will need to solve if he expects to play for the Nationals in 2012. In far worse news, 2011 first-round draft pick, Anthony Rendon, who seemed to be crushing high A level pitching in Potomac, severely sprained his ankle rounding third base. How much time Rendon will miss is still in question.
Look to your District on Deck staff to keep you up to date with content and features as the Nationals continue their season in New York against the Mets and return to Washington for their home opener at 1:05 p.m. against the Cincinnati Reds. The expected pitching match-up pits two of the highest profile pitchers to join their clubs via trade this off-season — Gonzalez for the Nats and star Mat Latos (born in Alexandria, Virginia) for the Reds.
We had 17 total posts on the week for you. Here’s your recap:
Nats Option Lannan to Minors (Andrew)
Lannan Requests Trade (Andrew)
Time for Some Predictions (Aaron)
The Future Is Now, And Later (Michael)
Aaron’s Exciting Month Ahead (Aaron)
Game 3 Recap: Cubs 4, Nationals 3 (Michael)