Washington Nationals vs Detroit Tigers: Nyjer Morgan's Back. 16 Losses, Who's Counting...

• After recording two outs in the top of the first tonight in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, Washington Nationals' starter J.D. Martin allowed a single, a walk and then four-straight hits by the Detroit Tigers before recording the final out of the frame with five runs having crossed the plate between outs two and three...and just when it seemed that Martin had eliminated himself from contention for one of the final two spots in the Nats' starting rotation, the 27-year-old former Cleveland Indians' '01 1st Round pick pitched four scoreless frames finishing the night with 5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB allowed and 3 K's collected. Martin's now given up 10 hits and 7 ER  in 2 GS and 10.0 IP over which he's walked 1 and K'd 6. Martin's performance tonight might not have mattered however...

• DC Skipper Jim Riggleman was quoted everywhere today after he told the Nats' beat writers that Craig Stammen was, as Mr. Riggleman was quoted stating in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Stammen likely to start season in rotation", a "good bet" for the Nats' twenty-ten rotation. The recently-turned-26-year-old Versailles, Ohio native, a 12th Round '05 DC Draft pick who started 19 games last season before being shut down so he could have surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, has apparently full-recovered, having allowed 9 hits, 8 R, 3 ER and 1 walk in 9.1 IP over which he's K'd 8, with 4 hits and the 3 ER allowed having come in a 1.1 inning outing in his first appearance this Spring after which he's pitched 8.0 scoreless. 

BACKPAGE: 

• The Rest of the Notes From The Game That Couldn't Be Heard or Seen.

• You're Not The Only Ones Disappointed.

BACKPAGE: 

• The Rest of the Notes From The Game That Couldn't Be Heard or Seen.

Luis Atilano followed J.D. Martin on the mound tonight, with a scoreless frame of his own in which he issued a walk, but was otherwise untouched, and after Atilano it was Miguel Batista, Tyler Walker and Matt Capps getting work in and giving up 2 hits and 1 ER each in the Tigers' 8-2 win over the Nationals, who fell to 5-16 in games that don't count with just two weeks left before the losses start piling up for real...

Nyjer Morgan was 2 for 3 with a line drive and an infield single to go with 2 stolen bases in his first game back after resting his injured hamstring for a few days, and all the reports were positive with Nats Insider's Mark Zuckerman(@MarkZuckerman) tweeting during the game that Morgan got a chance to test his balky wheel when the Nats' starting center fielder, "...beat out a bunt and then stole second,"  to start the fifth, and then took third for good measure, only to be stranded by the punchless Nats' offense...

• Final Score: Nationals 2, Tigers 8

• You're Not The Only Ones Disappointed.

Justin Maxwell should be starting in right field for the Washington Nationals. Maxwell was the second player selected by the Nats in the first Draft after relocation from Montreal in 2005, taken 114th overall in the 4th Round behind only the Nationals' First 1st Round pick, the Face of the Franchise, Ryan Zimmerman. Baseball America's reigning "Best Athlete" in the organization for 5-straight years, Maxwell was ranked 8th overall on Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's latest list of the Nats' prospects published last November, but Maxwell's hit in just 4 of 44  at bats, for an (.091 AVG) this Spring, with a double, 1 HR, 4 RBI's, 8 walks, 18 K's and a depressingly low .226 OBP in 17 games played. After promising results in 2007 at two stops at Class-A in the Nationals' organization, which earned Maxwell a 15-game trip to DC late that season, Maxwell's underwhelmed to put it mildly, while at times providing glimpses, say when he's pulled a HR back over the center field wall, or ended the season with a walk-off-slam, of what he's capable of doing at the highest level of the game, but given the chance to step in and replace the released Elijah Dukes, Maxwell's slumped terribly, prompting DC Skipper Jim Riggleman to tell Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore, as quoted in a Nationals Journal post entitled, (bluntly) "Slump ruining Justin Maxwell's chances", that Maxwell's problem is clear:

"'He's just not getting to the fastball,' Manager Jim Riggleman said of Maxwell. 'That's as simple as I can put it.'"

Is there anything Maxwell can do in the final weeks of Spring Training to earn a shot in right? MLB.com's Bill Ladson told readers last night in the latest edition of his, "Inbox: Who will fill right-field job?" that in his opinion, he, "...find(s) it hard to believe the Nationals are going with the platoon situation they are planning. With the exception of Harris, none of the other candidates have proven that they want the job." Can the Nationals go into the season with Willie Harris as the everyday right fielder? Willie Harris and his 162-game AVG (acc. to Baseball-Reference.com) of 17 doubles, 6 HR's and 33 RBI's with a .246 AVG, .331 OBP and .351 SLG (.683 OPS)? Or should they abandon the idea of the youth movement all together and sign Jermaine Dye as protection against a complete lack of production out the position this season? Only two weeks til Opening Day, Harris has that, then what?

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