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Washington Nationals World News: Stephen Strasburg, Elijah Dukes, Josh Willingham

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Josh Willingham In Rumorville:

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi start their latest column entitled, "Saturday's latest news and notes", by writing that the Washington Nationals, "...are again drawing strong interest in left fielder Josh Willingham," though the only team Mr.'s Rosenthal and Morosi mention by name as having interest is Atlanta, and they immediately note that the Braves, "...harbor concerns about his defense and past back trouble." The writers also note in the report that the Nationals aren't necessarily looking to deal Willingham since he's under their control for the next two seasons, just as DC GM Mike Rizzo mentioned last July in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's Nationals Journal post entitled, "Rizzo Has No Plans For A Fire Sale", in which he was quoted asking rhetorically:

"Why would you want to dump Willingham? We control him for two years, he's [30] years old, and he's a good hitter," Rizzo said. "I still think it's a young team. Willingham and Zim, those are guys in their primes or entering their primes. Including Dunn."

MLB.com's Bill Ladson cites "two baseball sources" who say that the Nationals are interested in free agent late-inning lefty Mike Gonzalez, a former Pirates' draft pick who's spent the last three years in Atlanta and IF/OF Mark DeRosa, who started his career in Atlanta and has played for the Rangers, Cubs and last year the Indians and Cardinals

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Stephen Strasburg Wins In Phoenix

Elijah Dukes Homers In Licey

 

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• Stephen Strasburg Wins In Phoenix

In front of 656 fans in Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the Washington Nationals' '09 No. 1 overall pick, Stephen Strasburg, struck out 6 of the 14 Peoria Saguaros' batters he faced, throwing 64 pitches, 36 for strikes in 3.2 scoreless innings pitched, over which the 21-year-old right-hander allowed just 1 hit and 2 walks, while recording 4 ground outs and one fly ball out. According to Project Prospect.com's TwitterFeed, in addition to throwing a fastball in the high-90's all day, topping out at 99, Strasburg also had the change working as they wrote early in today's outing that, "Strasburg's change is a plus-pitch too," and then later summed up the start with the following Tweet: 

"projectprospect: Stras done after 63 pitches. Top speed was 99. CB movement was exceptional. No balls hit to outfield. And CH was VERY good."

(ed. note - "If you haven't checked out Project Prospect.com yet, you should. The AFL coverage they've done over the last weeks has been expectional.")

With Strasburg's 4th win in the balance, his fellow DC 1st Round pick, future Nationals' closer Drew Storen was called upon in the eighth inning, giving up a one-out single before a doubleplay grounder ended the frame, and allowing the Saguaros' to load the bases with one down in the ninth before he got back-to-back K's to close out the win over Peoria, Arizona's second-favorite team. Storen throws 30 pitches, 18 for strikes, and gives up 3 hits in 2.0 IP over which he walks one intentionally, strikes out 2 and lowers his AFL ERA to 0.71 after 11 G and 12.2 IP in which he's now earned 3 saves while giving up 14 hits and 3 runs, 1 earned, with 11 K's collected. 

Notes: No Nationals' prospects on the field today, only the mound.

• Final Score - Desert Dogs 1, Saguaros 0 - MLB.com's GameDay.

• Elijah Dukes Homers In Licey

Elijah Dukes made his DWL debut tonight, starting in center and going 1 for 2 with a walk in his first at bat and a two-run HR in his second, (no word on if it was a curve that he hit, coverage was spotty), after which he flew out to left the third time up and was replaced in center after three innings with Dukes' Tigres del Licey already up 9-3 over Estrellas de Oriente, (who started Nationals' IF prospect Michael Martinez, who split the '09 campaign between Potomac and Harrisburg, at short). The Tigres end up with a 15-5 win, and the coverage at Licey.com focuses on Dukes, with an article by Dionosio Soldevila entitled, "Dukes se sitio en Oriente!!!" (which translates roughly as "Dukes was felt in the East!!!, Spanish-speaking readers please correct me, I studied French.") in which Mr. Soldevila writes, (and pardon the computer translation):

"Elijah Dukes played his first game of the Dominican season on Saturday and he caused a roar immediately, with a two-run HR as Licey squashed the Estrellas de Oriente, 15-5."

(ed. note - "There's a nice pic of Dukes being greeted at the dugout in his Licey blues if you check that link to Licey.com.")

Elijah Dukes is a front-page story in Licey!!!

• Final Score - Tigres, 15 Estrellas, 1 - MLB.com Box Score.