In confirming that the Washington Nationals were interested in free agent right-hander Grant Balfour before he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, GM Mike Rizzo told reporters the Nats remained open to any additions that made sense and improved the roster though they were comfortable with the talent they have already assembled for 2014. "We thought that there was a value there," Rizzo said, explaining they were open to opportunities which arose. "We're not making a whole lot of phone calls to people, but if we see a value out there, we certainly would embrace it and see if it fits for us."
Do the Nationals see some value in giving Ryan Madson a minor league deal if that's enough to get the veteran right-hander to join the organization? Washington Post writer James Wagner, citing a source who said a "Nationals scout" attended the 33-year-old reliever's public workout and was, "...impressed by the right-hander," wrote today that the Nats were interested in the free agent. SI.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote on Twitter last week that Madson hit 93 mph with his fastball in the workout:
Ryan Madson threw 93 mph in open audition for about 15 teams today in Phoenix. Multiple clubs expressing interest.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) February 7, 2014
Madson hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011 in Philadelphia when he put up a 2.37 ERA and a 2.25 FIP with 16 walks (2.37 BB/9) and 62 Ks (9.20 K/9) in 62 games and 60 2/3 IP. After signing a 1-year/$8.5M deal with Cincinnati, Madson had Tommy John surgery which cost him the entire 2012 campaign and after signing a 1-year/$3.5M deal with the Los Angeles Angels last season, he had setbacks with his elbow which kept him from pitching for LA. He was released in August. Will the Nationals add to their stockpile of right-handed bullpen options?
• Nationals.com's Bill Ladson is already at the Nationals' Spring Training facilities and his first story of the season today involved 25-year-old, '09 9th Round pick Taylor Jordan, the right-hander who debuted in the majors last season. Jordan's expected to compete for the fifth spot in the Nats' rotation. He suffered a broken ankle over the winter, however, in what's described in the article as a freak accident. The ground ball-inducing starter said he was ready to go though. Nats' manager Matt Williams told Ladson they would be watching Jordan closely:
"'He looks fine. We have to make sure that his ankle is 100 percent, because going into Spring Training, we want him to feel right,' Williams said. 'We certainly don't want the ankle affecting his arm.'"
Jordan started his 2013 campaign at High-A Potomac and worked his way up to Double-A Harrisburg and then the majors where he was (1-3) with a 3.66 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, 11 walks (1.92 BB/9) and 29 Ks (5.05 K/9) in 51 2/3 IP over which he gave up three home runs (0.52 HR/9) and was worth +0.7 fWAR.
• MLB.com's Bernie Pleskoff profiled another Nationals' prospect, Matt Purke, the 23-year-old 2011 3rd Round pick who is finally healthy with a big season ahead of him in 2014.
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• Ladson also heard from former Nats' skipper Davey Johnson, who is determined to save Tinker Field, in Orlando, FL, where he served as a batboy as a kid.
Tinker Field was built in 1923 on a site which hosted baseball games back as far as 1914.
The Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins held Spring Training there from 1936-1990. Johnson is apparently one of a group of citizens from the Orlando area who would like to see the ballpark preserved. Johnson was moved late last season when a tribute video put together by the Nationals to honor his contributions to baseball in the nation's capital included footage from the ballpark he visited in his youth.
"That was the old Tinker Field that I was mingling with all the big leaguers when I was just 10 years old," Johnson said, "and then here I am going out to pasture managing my favorite team. So it was, I like to stay away from those emotions, but it got to me."
"I don't usually think back," Johnson said that day. "And I was thinking back on a million experiences, you know, starting back in [Tinker Field], neighbor Joe Haynes, he liked me, thought I had some talent, took me to the ballpark and I ended up managing the team he was playing for and I made it to the top and now I'm going out to pasture."
No one puts Davey Johnson out to pasture. He's still got some fight in him.
BTW: Tinker Field is also home to 1,000 seats from Washington, D.C.'s Griffith Stadium. When Griffith Stadium was demolished in 1965, the seats were moved to Tinker Field where they remain to this day. #savetinkerfield #iguess?
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