Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Take On Pittsburgh Pirates Tonight In PNC Park.

Apr 28, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) during his first at bat in the Major Leagues during the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

• Having finished up their six-game homestand with a 4-2 record, the Washington Nationals head out on the road for a six-game trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati which starts with tonight's 7:05 pm EDT matchup with the Pirates. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are expected back tonight to play behind Edwin Jackson in the 28-year-old right-hander's sixth start of the season, this one against the Pirates' A.J. Burnett. The Nationals still hold a one-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, with an 18-10 record heading into tonight's game. The Pirates are 12-16 twenty-eight games into the 2012 campaign. The Nats and Pirates split the eight games they played last season with the Nats dropping two of three in PNC and winning three of five at home in Nats Park. Will A.J. Burnett try to teach Bryce Harper a lesson tonight? Will Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche provide a spark to a team that had a little bit of the wind taken out of their sales when Jayson Werth broke his wrist on Sunday? What will Bryce Harper do? Seven hours until game time. For now it's LINKS and Lots of them, RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• ["Bryce]Harper: 'Once Sports Illustrated came out, the hype and the pressure went through the roof. I just knew I needed to go out and play my game I've been playing my whole life -- not think that I'm bigger than the game...'" - "One on one with Washington Nationals young slugger Bryce Harper" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• NATS BEAT:

• "If the veteran manager decides to stick with what got him here, he'll probably put [Ryan] Zimmerman back in the No. 3 hole and [Adam] LaRoche back in the cleanup spot." - "What will lineup look like now?" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "In eight games, over 33 plate appearances, Harper has hit .308/.424/.500. No one in baseball has more doubles than his five since his arrival." - "With Jayson Werth out with a broken wrist, the Nationals have to ask even more of Bryce Harper" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "Cole Hamels didn’t mean any harm, mind you, when he massaged Bryce Harper’s back with a fastball Sunday night on national television." - "DALY: Hamels flunked out of 'old school'" - Dan Daly, Washington Times

• FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal on Hamels v Harper:


• "The 32-year-old Werth had played in all but one game for the Nationals this season, and was hitting .276 with three home runs and 12 RBIs prior to suffering the wrist injury." - "Nationals Pastime: Werth out around 12 weeks after wrist surgery is deemed a success" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Move over, Honus Wagner. There's a new player in the hot baseball card scene." - "Bryce Harper baseball card costs more than a new car" - WTOP.com

• "It wasn't lost on Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who told reporters after the game, 'I was actually a little surprised. Usually it seems that the Phillies aren't that hyped up to come play us.'" - "So far, Harper's a heck of a story for Nationals" - Thom Loverro, Washington Examiner

• "What did Cole Hamels prove? What lesson did he teach Bryce Harper? Other than looking silly, Hamels appears not to have accomplished a single thing." - "Cole Hamels accomplished nothing with Bryce Harper hit" - Richard Justice, MLB.com: News

• "Since the Phillies have a scheduled off day Thursday, they can manipulate their rotation so [Cole] Hamels will not miss a start." - "Cole Hamels suspended five games for hitting Bryce Harper with pitch" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "Who knew that Cole Hamels, the spindly San Diegan, was a Don Drysdale protege and distinguished chair of the Old School Department at Baseball University?" - "Cole Hamels, Mike Rizzo have unusual reaction to drilling of Bryce Harper" - Jon Paul Morosi, FOX Sports on MSN

• "Wait, Bryce Harper? Respectful? Yes, that's right. Credit his own increased maturity. Credit the Nationals' coaching staff and player development folks. Credit his family." - "A 19-year-old stays above the fray" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Having wrist problems is nothing new to [Jayson] Werth. He broke the same wrist as a member of the Dodgers in 2005, and he ended up missing all of 2006 because of the injury." - "Nationals' Jayson Werth has surgery on left wrist, out at least 12 weeks" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "The 'Take Back the Park' initiative was an embarrassment by its very necessity, although it was a success. But making a real rivalry is more complicated than an ad campaign." - "Nationals-Phillies rivalry: It’s so on" - Tracee Hamilton, The Washington Post

• "The break Sunday night was a tough blow, for Werth and the Nationals, but it appears he’s avoided damaging the same ligaments that led to his earlier ordeal." - "Nationals' Werth undergoes surgery on broken wrist" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Are the Phils really that dumb? Well, maybe they just wanted to find out who/what they were dealing with in Harper. If so, they found out." - "Ask Boswell about the Washington Nationals, spring training, the Capitals, the Redskins and all Washington sports" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "I don't understand why Major League Baseball doesn't just make suspensions for starting pitchers eight or nine games, ensuring that the starter has to sit out at least one outing." - "Nationals Pastime: Hamels suspended five games for plunking Harper" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Bo] Porter had met with first base coach Trent Jewett before the game who said they had saw something in Hamels' pickoff move to first." - "Bryce Harper that kind of a player to pull off a steal of home" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "[Davey] Johnson plans to move Harper to right field in Werth's absence, while a number of players could see time in left, including Xavier Nady, Roger Bernadina, Steve Lombardozzi and Chad Tracy." - "Nationals' Werth out 10 to 12 weeks" - Craig Stouffer, Washington Examiner

• "A rivalry has begun to take shape between the surprising first-place Nationals and the five-time defending National League East champion Phillies..." - "Nats' Mike Rizzo takes offense to Cole Hamels hitting Bryce Harper with a pitch intentionally" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "Barring a surprise, the Nationals will show up at PNC Park in Pittsburgh with Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche set to return to the lineup." - "The Nationals will continue to lean on their pitching with Jayson Werth out" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• '[Cole] Hamels has a history of toughness, belying his pretty-boy exterior, but this clearly wasn't his finest hour. There's no good reason to purposely hit Harper, who by the way took it like a man, not the kid he is." - "Hamels, a very honest villain here, got off lighter than he deserved" - Jon Heyman, CBSSports

• "The five-game suspension, common for pitchers because it typically forces them to miss one start, could actually have no effect on [Cole] Hamels' schedule." - "MLB suspends Hamels 5 games" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Similarly, [Charlie] Manuel said it used to be commonplace for a touted prospect, such as Harper, to receive a few inside pitches during his first time around..." - "Philadelphia Phillies have little to say about Cole Hamels-Bryce Harper incident" - Matt Breen, The Washington Post

• "For most of Washington’s history, baseball has meant two things: (a) Losing; (b) All of the above." - "Where do the Nationals fit among D.C.'s pro sports teams?" - Patrick Hruby, Washington Times

• "There's a chance the team opts to make another move and promotes an extra outfielder with Werth going down, but because Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi can also help out in left, they should have enough options there." - "Nationals Pastime: And now we move on" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Since the Phillies have a scheduled off day Thursday, they can manipulate their rotation so [Cole] Hamels will not miss a start." - "Cole Hamels suspended five games for hitting Bryce Harper with pitch" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "The Nationals played in front of a national audience on Sunday night for the first time since 2008, but they didn't have a good showing..." - "Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals - May 6, 2012" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "Washington Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will make his third rehab start on Wednesday with Triple-A Syracuse, the Chiefs announced Monday." - "Hamels suspended for hitting Harper; Wang to rehab with Triple-A" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "Once you realize that compassion is useful, that it is something really worthwhile, you immediately develop a willingness to cultivate it."

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Hagerstown: "Suns starting pitcher Wirkin Estevez (4-1) remained perfect at home with a season-high seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits." - "Suns Hammer GreenJackets 11-3" - Hagerstown Suns News

Class-A Potomac: "Behind a strong start from Matt Grace, the Potomac Nationals defeated the Wilmington Blue Rocks 3-1 on Sunday at Pfitzner Stadium." - "Amazing Grace: P-Nats Win 3-1" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: Flying Squirrels 2, Senators 0 - Chris McConnell - 1 for 2, 2B, BB; Mike Ballard - 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K's - Harrisburg Senators Scoreboard

Triple-A Syracuse: "The Syracuse Chiefs announced today that Washington Nationals starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang is scheduled to start for the Chiefs on Wednesday, May 9." - "Chien Ming-Wang to make rehab start" - Syracuse Chiefs News

Triple-A Syracuse: "John Lannan, 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2-3 record, 6.10 ERA... After a few strong outings, Lannan returned to the rough ways that characterized the beginning of the season." - "Chiefs swept in a pair at Lehigh Valley" - Ben Meyers, The Auburn Citizen

• "The right-hander has tossed 10 innings and has allowed seven hits, three runs (two earned) and one walks while striking out ten." - "NATS/CHIEFS: Chien-Ming Wang to Make Rehab Start in Syracuse" - Cheryl Nichols, District Sports Page

• "[Randolph] Oduber said teammates Kevin Keyes, Michael Taylor and Wade Moore have developed good camaraderie working the Pfitzner Stadium outfield through the first month of the season." - "Injury-free, Oduber adjusting to new level of competition" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Tuesday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATS TOWN:

• "When you watch the young infielder at the plate, it's easy to see why many scouts have looked him over as a serious major league prospect." - "Lombardozzi quietly making his mark" - Nationals Buzz: Will Yoder, MASNSports.com

• "2012 Nats vs. Pirates Q&A with Nats vs. Pirates Q&A with Sam, The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

"Here’s what you need to understand. Pirates fans have been through a lot. We were not swayed by the early season success. However, being tied for first place late in July gave us HOPE at the time." -

May 8, 2012: "Washington baseball fans go after O’Day" - Karen and Kevin Flynn, D.C. Baseball History

• "Well the Nats took two of three against the rival Phillies in what was an utterly emotionless series, devoid of anything at all newsworthy..." - "All Quiet in NatsTown" - Mac, Capitol Baseball

• "And clearly, Werth typed that email one-handed. Or maybe Andy Feffer hacked his email account in an attempt to squeeze another ounce of juice out of his Natitude campaign?" - "Jayson Werth has surgery on wrist, vows revenge on Phillies fans for taunting him." - Nats Enquirer

• "For the amount that the Washington Nationals have struggled at the plate this year, they are about to face a team whose bats are more lackluster and who even score fewer runs." - "Series Preview- Nationals Look To Stay In First Against The Pirates" - Erin Flynn, The Nats Blog

• "As we mentioned on Friday, Sharkadina submitted a photo for a Nationals Natitude contest. The rules were simple: tweet a picture with to the Nationals Twitter account that demonstrates #Natitude." - "Shark of Hope" - Sharkadina

• "With [Jayson] Werth’s injury, the Nats are looking at a Xavier Nady/Roger Bernadina platoon in left, while still trotting out Rick Ankiel’s .311 OBP in center every night." - "Washington Nationals OF Jayson Werth has wrist surgery; Nats need to get help" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "John Lannan Is Not Cole Hamels or Jordan Zimmermann" - Ouij, Natstradamus

Audio: "The Nationals Review Podcast Episode 5" - The Nationals Review

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "The Mets have a crappy bullpen." - "What Are The Mets Going To Do About This Bullpen?" - Rob Castellano, Amazin' Avenue

Braves: "Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not get his money's worth before earning his team's first ejection of the season in the seventh inning of Monday night's 5-1 loss to the Cubs." - "Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez quickly ejected after warnings issued" - Mark Bowman, braves.com: News

Phillies: "Phillies Minor League Report: April 30 to May 6" - phillies.com: News

Marlins: "With the kind of offensive talent the Marlins were boasting, they simply had to improve going forward, and if a number of players just started hitting up to their projections, the club would be significantly improved." - "Miami Marlins Offense Quickly Regressing For the Better" - Michael Jong, Fish Stripes

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