Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Welcome Chicago White Sox To Town Tuesday; What Up, Dunn?

Win McNamee

Thanks, Marlins! The Washington Nationals swept their season-opening series with Miami, so the loss of two of their three games in Cincinnati this weekend didn't hurt as much, though that 15-0 loss to the Reds is still bothering me. The Nats are 4-2 as they return to D.C. to start a six-game homestand.

The seven errors weren't fun to watch. Seven errors in one week of baseball? The five home runs on Saturday night were fun. Five home runs in one night? That's fun, am I right? That one pitch Stephen Strasburg threw was amazing. Not all of his 114 pitches were as impressive. Davey Johnson wasn't impressed with Strasburg's control. The Washington Nationals dropped two of three to the Cincinnati Reds this weekend, but as a result of their season-opening sweep of the Miami Marlins they come home for a six-game homestand with the White Sox and Braves at 4-2. What did we learn in the first week of the season? Not much.

Most important in my mind, dang the Nats' catching is strong. Davey Johnson can't go wrong behind the plate so far this season. Dan Haren's velocity was where he and the Nats probably hoped it would be, but after talking command all Spring he was up in the zone a lot. Ian Desmond looked shaky on a few balls hit toward him but came through with a big blast. Bryce Harper was created in a lab and designed to hit. Jayson Werth's power has been on display, with the veteran outfielder hitting a few 400 ft+ home runs. What the heck happened to Ryan Zimmerman this weekend? 0 for 11? Adam LaRoche should be back by Tuesday for the first game with the White Sox and Robin Ventura's my new fave AL manager after the comments he makes below. 4-2 after six with six against the Sox and Braves coming up... For now it's links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "Last year, his first pitching out of the bullpen full time, [Craig] Stammen would occasionally tear off games when his stuff had hitters flailing." - "Craig Stammen’s swing-and-miss sinker" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "Davey Johnson acknowledged at the end of spring training that keeping both [Wilson] Ramos and [Kurt] Suzuki fresh and content with their playing time will be among his toughest challenges this season." - "Catching tandem producing at the plate" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Hitting coach Rick Eckstein has noticed a change in [Wilson] Ramos. For one, Ramos lost about 15 pounds and looks mobile behind the plate." - "Leaner Ramos feels Bison-like after coming off injury" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "Infield singles. Broken bats. A ball just out of reach. It all piled up on [Stephen] Strasburg in a three-run first inning and a three-run sixth." - "Nationals' early-season clash of titans tilts Reds' way with defeat in finale" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Afterward, [Stephen] Strasburg had this to say of a pitch that, if pitches could be mounted, should hang in a museum: 'It was all right.'" - "Stephen Strasburg’s preposterous change-up" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "[Johnny] Cueto needed 108 pitches to get through six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out six." - "Strasburg outpitched by Cueto" - Mark Schmetzer, AP/WTOP.com

• "It was an outing [Stephen] Strasburg would like to forget. He lasted 5 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on nine hits." - "Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds - April 7, 2013" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "Who says Wilson Ramos is the only Nationals catcher who poses a power threat at the plate?" - "Instant analysis: Reds 6, Nats 3" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "In Saturday's 7-6 victory over the Reds, Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth hit his second homer of the season off right-hander Sam LeCure." - "Werth exhibiting regained power homer by homer" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "Against the Reds’ meat grinder of a lineup, [Stephen] Strasburg yielded six earned runs — three in the first inning and three in the fifth — while allowing a career-high 13 base runners: nine hits and four walks." - "Nationals vs. Reds: Stephen Strasburg throws 114 pitches and Cincinnati gets a hold of a few in Washington’s 6-3 loss" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "Working with runners on first and second and [Joey] Votto at the plate is generally a tough way to do business." - "Taking another look at Stephen Strasburg's changeup to Joey Votto" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said his back was feeling much better and that he hoped to play against the White Sox on Tuesday at Nationals Park." - "LaRoche hopes to return Tuesday" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "Chad Tracy's fielding error in the third inning was the Nats' seventh error in their six games played thus far this season. They entered the day tied for the most errors in the majors." - "Nationals Pastime: Rubber game goes to the Reds" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "On Saturday, it was the Nationals coming up big with the game on the line late. On Sunday, the tables were turned." - "Red-hot Cincinnati brings Nats back to earth" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

• "[Bryce] Harper acknowledged that he made a mistake but said, 'If I throw him out, I'm perfect. If I don't, everybody will look at me and say I'm terrible. Nothing I can do.'" - "After miscue, Harper urged to exhibit more control" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "They left Cincinnati believing they had not played their best. Manager Davey Johnson said he felt like his team had not yet found a rhythm..." - "The Reds take Round 1 from the Nationals" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "The Nats were outscored 27-10 over the last three days. They were outhit 43-23. The Nationals made six errors to the Reds' none." - "Nationals Pastime: Getting defensive" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Gio] Gonzalez looks to pick up where he left off after a breakout 2012 campaign that ended with him finishing third in the National League Cy Young voting." - "Chicago White Sox at Washington Nationals - April 9, 2013" - Joey Nowak, MLB.com Preview

Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DailyLama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "'The whole team got me,' Derrick Robinson said with a laugh. 'They had shaving cream, shampoo, beer. I wasn’t sure what they were pouring on me. Just whatever they could find.'" - "Reds rookie keys win over Nationals" - Tom Archdeacon, www.daytondailynews.com

• "The anticipated low-scoring pitchers' duel between Cueto and Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg didn't transpire Sunday." - "Three-run sixth propels Reds past Nationals" - Reuters/Chicago Tribune

• "Following are the South Jersey Times Major League Baseball Power Rankings compiled by Phillies beat writer Bill Evans: 1. Washington Nationals (3-1). Looking as good as advertised." - "MLB Power Rankings: Washington Nationals start No. 1" - Bill Evans, NJ.com

• "RHP Stephen Strasburg struggled with his command Sunday, throwing 114 pitches and giving up six earned runs and walking four in 5 2/3 innings." - "Washington Nationals - PlayerWatch" - Reuters/chicagotribune.com

• "If White Sox manager Robin Ventura has his way, the National League never will adopt the designated hitter rule. The Sox will get their first taste of interleague play of the season Tuesday for a three-game series against the Washington Nationals, and Ventura is looking forward to the challenges of playing by NL rules." - "Sox, pitchers prepare for interleague play" - Meghan Montemurro, Northwest Herald

• "The subject of being an all-around player was a talking point as the Sox prepare to play interleague games against the Washington Nationals this week." - "Gold Glover Jake Peavy proud of his all-around prowess" - Daryl Van Schouwen, Chicago Sun-Times

• "The first road trip of the season begins in Washington, D.C., a National League city, which creates a problem of where to play designated hitter Adam Dunn, who previously has moved to left field." - "Chicago White Sox: Chicago White Sox DH Adam Dunn could play left field against Washington Nationals" - Dave van Dyck, Chicago Tribune

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Hagerstown: "The Hagerstown Suns (1-3) dropped a 2-1 pitchers' duel to the Delmarva Shorebirds (3-1) on Sunday afternoon, thereby losing their first series of the 2013 season 3-1." - "Shorebirds take series finale 2-1" - Eli Pearlstein, Hagerstown Suns News

High-A Potomac: "Right-hander A.J. Cole showed flashes of how dominant he could be in his first start with the high Single-A Potomac Nationals on Sunday." - "A.J. Cole shows flashes of brilliance in Potomac debut" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

High-A Potomac: "[A.J.] Cole, the no. 3 prospect in the Washington Nationals system per MLB.com's rankings, threw 5.1 innings and allowed four earned runs on seven hits, while walking just one, and striking out seven (all swinging)." - "Nationals Fall to Hillcats 11-6 in Rubber Match Seesaw Tilt" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: "Sean Nicol delivered an 11th inning walk-off single to send 3,257 Senators' fans home happy with a 5-4 victory over the Bowie Baysox at Metro Bank Park on Sunday afternoon." - "Harrisburg Rallies for a 5-4 Win in 11 innings on Sunday" - Marshall Keiner, Harrisburg Senators News

Double-A Harrisburg: "[Destin] Hood battled injuries and illness last season. It is nice to see him come out of the blocks quickly, another fast outfielder with football-like skills that have translated well to baseball." - "Harrisburg's solid lineup one reason for quick start" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

Triple-A Syracuse: "The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, came back for an 8-6 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday afternoon." - "Brown's blasts lead Chiefs past Pigs" - Syracuse Chiefs News

Triple-A Syracuse: "Corey Brown hit two two-run homers, Zach Walters hit a two-run homer to tie things in the top of the eighth, and Michael Crotta pitched two no-hit innings to get a win as the Chiefs topped Lehigh Valley, 8-6, on Sunday." - "Syracuse homers its way to 3-1: Chiefs rally past Pigs to take opening series" - Ben Meyers, The Auburn Citizen

• NATSTOWN:

• "F.P. Santangelo sat down with Ryan Zimmerman before a recent game and played a game of word association." - "Ryan Zimmerman on what he thinks of his teammates" - Sarah Kogod, D.C. Sports Bog

• "Bump in the Road" - Nats Enquirer

• "Do we have to worry about the pen? Nah. Do we have to worry about Haren? Well... let's just keep a eye out on his next start." - "Monday Quickie - Two things" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "The Washington Nationals' season is one week old today, during which they played six games against two totally different ballclubs." - "Grading The First Week Of The Nationals 2013 Season" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• "Does Andrus’ new contract really affect Desmond?" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "The Reds proved a headache for [Stephen] Strasburg without ever banking on the long ball." - "Washington Nationals Game 6 Review: Reds take series with 6-3 win over Strasburg, Nats" - Alyssa Wolice, District Sports Page

• "During the next 8 weekends we are going to share with you The Game Comes Home Web Series about D.C. Baseball History." - "The Game Comes Home Web Series – 'The Homestead Grays' - Mark Hornbaker, D.C. Baseball History

• "After a glorious opening series against Miami that included back-to-back shutouts, the Nats found the going much tougher on the season's first weekend in Cincinnati." - "Nationals Buzz: How will Nats respond to getting roughed up?" - Marty Niland, MASNSports.com

• "Hey Shark Hey" - Sharkadina

• "Rendon doesn’t play second base yet" - Natstradamus

• "Over the weekend, this Mashable post Major League Baseball: The Social Media Rundown went up and once again the Washington Nationals are last in Facebook likes." - "Nats pick up 80,000 followers on Facebook in one year, still last" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "The Mets spoiled the major-league debut of Miami’s 20-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez." - "Marlon Byrd's walk-off single caps NY Mets’ comeback win over Miami Marlins" - Kristie Ackert, NY Daily News

Braves: "You go into today's game with Freddie (Freeman) on the 'DL' and Simmons getting banged up in the thumb and you still put a good team in the field." - Fredi Gonzalez - "Braves quotes after Sunday's 5-1 victory over Cubs" - Michael Cunningham, www.ajc.com

Phillies: "Through six games, the Phillies' starting staff is the worst in the majors. They have posted a 6.75 ERA by allowing 26 earned runs in 34 2/3 innings." - "Historically bad start for Phillies pitchers" - Matt Gelb, Philadelphia Inquirer

Marlins: "Jose Fernandez lived up to the hype. The Marlins lived down to their reputation." - "Jose Fernandez pitches gem in debut but Miami Marlins lose to New York Mets" - Clark Spencer, MiamiHerald.com

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