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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Take On Bo Porter And Houston Astros; Rafael Soriano Pitches Today

Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson told reporters this morning that the Nats' new closer will pitch in Grapefruit League action for the first time today when the Nationals take on the AL West's newest team, the Houston Astros and new manager/former Nats' 3B coach Bo Porter.

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Mike Ehrmann

The Washington Nationals' newest starter, Dan Haren, will make his second start of the Spring this afternoon when the Nats take on the Houston Astros at home in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium at 1:05 pm EST. Haren struck out three and gave up two hits and one earned run in his first Grapefruit League outing against the Miami Marlins last week. After Haren (and another pitcher), Washington's newest reliever will take the hill for the first time in competitive action. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson talked about what he expected to see from new Nationals' closer Rafael Soriano today when he spoke with reporters this morning.

"Just get on the hill with a new team, new receiver, new defense and get his work in," the Nats' 70-year-old skipper said. "I mean, [Soriano has] been throwing several live [bullpens] and he's been throwing good. He knows what he needs to do to get ready and this is going to be one of probably about eight appearances in the Spring. We've kind of mapped out his schedule ahead of time. And he'll come in probably after the first two pitchers. Hopefully I get six [innings] out of the first two, and he'll pitch the seventh. But if I only get five, he'll pitch the sixth."

Wilson Ramos will also be behind the dish for the first three innings this afternoon, making his first appearance as a catcher after DHing in Sunday's game. "He's been doing all the drills. I'm not even worried about him," Johnson said of Ramos. "I'm just going to give him three innings and one at bat. I'll go slow with him and work him up to a full deal. We've got plenty of time in the Spring. He showed a pretty good bat the other day, he won that ballgame leading off with a double second time up."

1:05 pm EST this afternoon for the Nats and Astros.

This one's only on the radio. We'll be following along if you're unable to listen in, so check back at game time to see how Haren, Soriano and Ramos do. Until then, it's links and lots of them, starting RIGHT NOW!!!:

(ed. note - "The Wire Taps had the day off like the Nats on Monday, so catch up on everything below...")


• "When the headaches first came on, they were barely bad enough to mention. On April 1, [Yewri] Guillén headed home to La Canela to get his travel documents in order." - "Inside Major League Baseball's Dominican Sweatshop System" - Ian Gordon, Mother Jones


• "In the upcoming issue of Mother Jones, the magazine will publish a story titled 'Inside Major League Baseball’s Dominican Sweatshop System' about issues surrounding Dominican baseball academies run by major league teams, highlighting the talent scouting industry and health care system for players." - "Two years later, new report on Nationals prospect Yewri Guillen’s death" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "[Yewri] Guillen, a promising 18-year-old infielder, died of what the Nationals originally called bacterial meningitis. But when MLB investigated the situation, they released a statement saying the Guillen had died of an infection in the brain as a result of an aggressive sinus infection." - "New report on baseball in the Dominican Republic focuses on 2011 death of Nationals prospect" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• via Twitter: Today's Starting Lineup:

• "While other teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers might have acquired better and higher-profile players, Rizzo was surgical and precise in achieving his goals." - "Mike Rizzo's incredible offseason" - The GM's Office by Jim Bowden Blog - ESPN

• "But the notion of [Fernando] Abad heading north with the club -- something nobody would have speculated a few short weeks ago -- shouldn't be dismissed." - "Who gets the final bullpen spot?" - Mark Zuckerman,

• "[Anthony] Rendon is 22 now. Will he have to hit .352 over two years at AAA to get his shot with the Nats? I doubt it very much." - "Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "'He is one of my favorite players,' [Mike] Rizzo said. 'I say this with all respect -- he is a grinder, a baseball junkie, a dirt bag and a great talent.'" - "Thom Loverro: Nationals' Danny Espinosa is tough -- but not so pretty" - Thom Loverro,

• "[Lucas] Giolito could have been a higher pick in the Draft if not for his elbow injury. But he is grateful that the Nats were willing to take a chance on him." - "Nats righty Lucas Giolito progressing with Tommy John recovery" - Bill Ladson, News

• "While the vast majority of the 2012 Nationals stuck around and are a part of the 2013 squad, there are obviously a few new faces, Haren and Denard Span among them." - "Nationals Pastime: Changing teams can leave players feeling like the new kid in school" - Dan Kolko,

• "'I like to look at tendencies,' [Kurt] Suzuki said. 'I do a lot of studying on the computer before games. I look at hitter’s tendencies, what they’ve been doing the last 10 games.'" - "What Kurt Suzuki looks for when he prepares for an opponent" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "[Tyler] Moore’s 2012 season began in Triple-A Syracuse. When his power surge continued, he found himself in the big leagues." - "Tyler Moore still has full-time Nats role in sights" - Mike Harris, Washington Times

• "Turns out [Matt] Purke's worst fears never were realized. Though doctors did clean up the shoulder and remove a couple of inflamed bursa sacs, the pitcher's labrum and rotator cuff were intact." - "Purke taking slow-and-steady path back" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

• "Ryan Zimmerman won't test his surgically repaired right shoulder defensively in a game until later this month." - "Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman not ready to play in field yet" - AP/

• "'It is amazing what a difference a year makes,' [Zach] Duke said. 'I am very fortunate and blessed to be in the situation I am in.'" - "What a difference a year's made for Nationals' Zach Duke" - Dan Kolko,

• "Because of shoulder issues, including a major surgery to repair a torn capsule early in the 2011 season, [Chris] Young has not enjoyed a normal spring training in years." - "Chris Young takes next step in minor league game" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• via Twitter (@NationalsPR):

• "[Davey] Johnson also announced that [Wilson] Ramos would start against the Astros on Tuesday and play three innings behind the plate." - "Ramos to get back behind plate on Tuesday" - Bill Ladson, News

• "But [Zach] Walters has given himself a chance to become a major leaguer in the future with his athletic defense alone." - "Zach Walters gaining notice at Nationals spring training" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Chris Young has never been a guy who wows scouts with his overpowering stuff or blows hitters away with a fastball that reaches the mid-to-upper 90s." - "Nationals Pastime: Young declares himself ready for Grapefruit League debut" - Dan Kolko,

• "Ask Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson about Ian Desmond, you’ll get an answer that references Danny Espinosa. Ask about Espinosa, you’ll get one that mentions Desmond." - "Danny Espinosa looks to mimic Ian Desmond's breakout" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The last thing I would ever want to do is complain (okay, that's a lie), but when all of us got to Space Coast stadium today at 8 a.m., it was 40 degrees." - "Nats players whine about Florida cold snap" Craig Heist,

• "When you stand next to [Anthony] Rendon, he doesn't strike you as the type of guy who would leave scouts drooling over his offensive potential." - "Nationals Pastime: A closer look into Rendon's offensive potential" - Dan Kolko,

• "For [Chris] Young, it was refreshing to take the mound without any worries about his shoulder, which has given him problems over the years." - "Nationals right-hander Chris Young sees first spring action" - Bill Ladson, News

• "While the rest of his Washington Nationals teammates were enjoying their first off-day of the spring, Chris Young took his 6-foot-10 frame to the mound at Space Coast Stadium to face minor league hitters." - "Chris Young throws 41 pitches in minor league game" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• via Twitter (@NationalsPR):

• "[Anthony] Rendon said he learned how to hit balls with backspin when he was 11 or 12 years old growing up Houston under the tutelage of then-travel baseball team coach Willie Ansley..." - "How Anthony Rendon puts backspin on the ball to make it carry" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Monday morning, while the rest of his Washington teammates enjoy their first off-day of the spring, Ross Detwiler will board a plane for Phoenix..." - "Nationals notes: Ross Detwiler ready to join Team USA" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Zach] Walters didn't hesitate. He went into his locker, grabbed some new shoelaces and wove them into his shoes." - "Nationals Pastime: Walters attempting to stand out while still blending in" - Dan Kolko,

• "[Eury] Perez, now 22, will fly to Puerto Rico with the Dominican team to play in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic on Thursday..." - "Washington Nationals outfielder Eury Perez shows signs of growth" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "'Nice shoelaces, change ‘em,' [Zach] Walters said that [Jayson] Werth told him." - "Zach Walters' ability impressing Nationals" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• Your Daily Message from the Dalai Lama on Twitter (@DalaiLama):


• "Adam LaRoche said he didn’t feel bad about sending his son into battle." - "Nats players use Drake LaRoche to get them out of batting practice" - Dan Steinberg, D.C. Sports Bog

• "The Nationals were playing the Cardinals Phillies in 2010 when Stephen Strasburg blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery." - "Stan Musial reached out to Strasburg following elbow injury in 2010" - Mike Axisa,

• "Almost two years have passed since 18-year-old Nationals prospect Yewri Guillen died from a brain infection while playing and living at the team’s baseball academy in the Dominican Republic." - "Revisiting the death of a Nationals prospect two years later" - Aaron Gleeman, HardballTalk

•"The circumstances surrounding the death of Yewri Guillén—an 18-year-old Dominican prospect who had been signed by the Washington Nationals—remain murky." - "The Nationals Wouldn't Pay Out Dead Prospect's Signing Bonus Until His Family Promised Not To Sue Them" - Tom Ley, Deadspin

• "Fifteen months after the abduction of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, the Detroit Tigers say reliever Brayan Villarreal is not expected to leave spring training after his family escaped unharmed from a kidnapping attempt in Venezuela on Friday night." - "Kidnapping Fears Continue for Major League Players from Latin America" - Chuck Carroll, CBS DC

• "Bryce Harper posed with Mickey Mouse on Monday afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, whatever that is." - "Bryce Harper Grabbed Mickey Mouse’s Bat" - Tim Ryan, The Big Lead


• "March 5: Senators Birthdays - Ramon Garcia B Mar. 5, 1924 D Dec. 25, 2001" - "This Date in Washington Senators History" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "'You know what? It’s a really young group. I’ve never felt so old. I think [Stephen] Strasburg said in an interview yesterday that he used to watch me growing up. That made me feel really old.'" - Dan Haren - "Dan Haren on the young Nats: ‘I’ve never felt so old’" - Sarah Kogod, Washington Post

• "Of course, we’ve made a lot of progress in 48 years, and much news is indeed produced via automated processes. But you still have to put some words in between the two photos that go underneath the headline, 'Bryce Harper with Mickey Mouse.'" - "Bryce Harper with Mickey Mouse" - Dan Steinberg, D.C. Sports Bog

• "Just Bryce Harper with Mickey Mouse..." - Nats Enquirer

• "A.J. Cole #98 - 2013 Top 100" - Bullpen Banter

• "Nats Have Treated Their Young Stars Right" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• "Nats Stats Update (3/5)" - Mark Buterbaugh, DC Pro Sports Report

• "This post is for the old heads out there, the ones who sat through those endless middling-and-worse seasons between 2005 and Stephen Strasburg..." - "Dmitri Young and Robert Fick interview Chad Cordero" - Dan Steinberg, D.C. Sports Bog

• "Checking In On The Nats MLB Rule 5 Picks" - Luke Erickson,

• "Nats Talk On The Go: Episode 45" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• "Mike Trout’s 2013 Salary Debate" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "Shark Vs Australia" - Sharkadina

• "Suzuki Synthesizes the Data" - Ouij, Natstradamus

• "Nats: 4 weeks until Opening Day, eyes on the prize" - William F. Yurasko, William World News


Braves: "[Brian] McCann was encouraged he'd be taking batting practice and long-tossing from 120 feet, the latest steps in his progression from offseason shoulder surgery..." - "Braves' Brian McCann: Delaying surgery was right move" - Gabe Lacques, USA Today Sports

Mets: "The 'what outfield?' crisis for the beleaguered Mets manager has reached such proportions that, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ knee injury, Collins has taken to roaming the clubhouse every morning looking for volunteers..." - "NY Mets manager Terry Collins may have outfield envy when looking at Atlanta Braves' Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward" - Bill Maddon, NY Daily News

Phillies: "Ryan Howard, off to a roaring start this spring after missing half of last year recovering from left Achilles' surgery, answers the most pressing topics, lighthearted and serious." - "Offbeat Q&A with Phillies' Ryan Howard" - Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Daily News

Marlins: "Jake Marisnick, ranked as the Toronto Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect, was a highly regarded piece of the future for the Canadian city’s club. Until he wasn’t." - "JUPITER: Jake Marisnick settles in with new environment with Miami Marlins" - Steph Rogers,