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On Nationals' Starter Dan Haren's Surprising Turnaround; Tidy Narratives And More

The Washington Nationals signed Dan Haren to a 1-year/$13M dollar deal hoping that the 32-year-old veteran would stabilize the back of their rotation, and after a rough start to the 2013 campaign, the right-hander has been the starter the Nats were looking for...

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[ed. note- "Every Friday morning throughout this season, hopefully, if they'll continue to have me, I'll be writing a post over at's Nationals Buzz, "... as part of's season-long initiative of welcoming guest," writers to their site. All opinions expressed are my own... A sample follows... You can read the entire post HERE or through the link included below."]:

"It was frustrating for me," Haren told reporters after he took a one-year, $13 million deal from the Nationals, "just because it's tough for someone to deal with so many injury questions on something I've never missed a day for, not even getting pushed back a day from a start in 10 years for it. But I don't know what MRIs say, I don't know how I test out."

"We can't dwell on it too long," Haren told reporters, "because if we go to Atlanta feeling sorry for ourselves, we're going to get rolled." - Haren after Sunday's loss to Giants

The Nats looked at his medical records and were comfortable with a one-year deal, which Haren took when the multi-year deal he was after didn't materialize.

"I understand that teams had concerns," Haren said, "otherwise I probably would have gotten a three- or four-year deal, but that said, I think I have a lot to prove this year. Very confident I'm going to stay healthy. I feel great right now."

The first half of the 2013 campaign was another tough one, however, as Haren struggled to keep the ball in the yard. In his first 15 starts in a Nationals uniform, Haren was 4-9 with Washington going 4-11 when he took the mound. Haren had a 6.15 ERA, 13 walks (1.43 BB/9) and 67 strikeouts (7.35 K/9) in 82 innings in which opposing hitters had a .306/.340/.548 line and 19 home runs (2.09 HR/9) before the Nationals put him on the disabled list.

Haren would later admit that after a stretch of particularly rough starts in June, in which he had a 9.82 ERA and seven home runs (3.44 HR/9) allowed in 18 1/3 innings, he worried that he was a bad outing or two away from being released. He reluctantly agreed to the second DL stint of his career, with the Nationals describing the issue as shoulder weakness.

Davey Johnson told reporters he hoped the rest would help Haren come back in the second half as he had in 2012, though the issues he was dealing with in each instance were seemingly unconnected...

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