First-year manager Matt Williams once again addressed the plans for the future of the Washington Nationals' lineup once Bryce Harper is back from the Disabled List.
In spite of Ryan Zimmerman's shoulder issues and throwing problems, and as strong as Anthony Rendon has looked at third, Williams has repeatedly said that once Harper is back, he'll play left with Zimmerman returning to third and Rendon shifting to second, where he started the season. Danny Espinosa, who continues to impress with his defense at second, will return to a utility role.
"'We got a pretty good outfielder hopefully coming back really soon,'" Williams told reporters, including The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore before last night's game. "'The perfect world is, Zim would go back to third, where he’s played a long time and won a Gold Glove. And when Harp’s ready, Harp will play left. That’s the plan.'"
After watching Zimmerman make an inning-ending diving catch in left in the seventh to strand a runner in a tight game, Williams talked about how impressed he was with the transition the Nationals' '05 1st Round pick has made, but still said that the plan is to move him back to third base.
"I don't know if all things being equal, Harper being healthy and ready to play," Williams said, "I don't think there's much of a choice. I think the fantastic thing is [Zimmerman] has approached playing left field with vigor and with enthusiasm and has worked hard to be a really good left fielder. And that's just a compliment to him and a compliment about what he thinks about our team and what he's willing to do. But all things being equal, I don't see much of a choice. He's got a Gold Glove at third base, so we have to take that into consideration too."
Three weeks back, everyday center fielder and leadoff man Denard Span's .239/.308/.363 line might have made him seem like a candidate for a bench role, but Williams has talked often about Span's contributions in center and at the top of the order being important to the Nationals' success.
Since May 20th, when he put together a 5 for 5 night against the Reds, Span is 30 for 89 (.337/.375/.517) with 11 doubles, a triple and a home run in the last 20 games.
While there was talk of a Zimmerman, Harper, Jayson Werth outfield, at least on the internet, the Nats' skipper doesn't seem to be considering that as an option, at least not publicly. He is, however, impressed with the transition Zimmerman has made.
"It's like that's his natural position," Williams said last night in AT&T Park. "He's just a good athlete. He does all things well on the diamond and like we talked about before the game, it's not easy to play here and he's making it look like he's been out there a long time."
• THE BIG STORY!!!:
• "Manager Matt Williams reaffirmed his plans to move Ryan Zimmerman back to third base from left field once Bryce Harper returns from the disabled list in early July..." - "Matt Williams says Ryan Zimmerman will move back to third base once Bryce Harper returns" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post
• NATS BEAT:
• "The Nats have already won this series against the team with the best record in baseball and could lock up a mammoth four-game sweep tomorrow afternoon." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams discusses Zimmerman's defensive gem and more after 6-2 win" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com
• "Nationals outfielder Ryan Zimmerman is doing better in the outfield than any baseball expert thought." - "Zimmerman impressing in outfield play" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News
• "Zimmerman’s diving catch, his best moment yet in left field, helped the Nationals claim their four-game series against the Giants before Thursday’s finale." - "Tanner Roark wins again, Ryan Zimmerman shines in LF as Nationals top Giants, 6-2" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
• "The run support was enough for right-hander Tanner Roark, who was outstanding. He pitched six-plus innings and allowed two runs on seven hits." - "Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants - June 11, 2014" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap
• "When Ryan Zimmerman made the move to left field upon his return from the disabled list, we all wondered how he'd fare out there." - "Nationals Pastime: On Zimmerman's impressive play in left, and what the future holds" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com
• "Wilson Ramos is headed back to the disabled list, once again sidelined with a leg injury." - "Wilson Ramos heading back to DL with strained hamstring" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "The Nationals placed oft-injured catcher Wilson Ramos on the disabled list for the second time this season with a Grade 1 right hamstring strain..." - "Wilson Ramos placed on disabled list with right hamstring strain" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post
• "The Nationals’ offense continues to hit its stride, as different members of the lineup are taking turns getting hot, and this week it was Desmond who led the charge." - "Nationals Stock Watch: Firing on all cylinders" - Daniel Shiferaw, Nats Insider
• "Wilson Ramos will need seven to 10 days to recover from a right hamstring strain, so the Nationals have placed their oft-injured catcher on the 15-day disabled list..." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams weighs in on Ramos' injury and his workout regimen" - Pete Kerzel, MASNSports.com
• "Ramos had an MRI on the hamstring Wednesday and it revealed a Grade 1 strain, according to manager Matt Williams." - "Ramos goes on disabled list with tight hamstring" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News
You too can donate $5 a day to help feed this beast pic.twitter.com/XBaMhHhBHd— B Sheridan (@md_dc) June 12, 2014
• "There is no hotter team in baseball than the Nationals, and there is no part of the game at which they are not excelling." - "The Nationals storm into first place" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post
• "The Nationals stepped into AT&T Park Wednesday night winners of nine of their last 11 and looking to hand the Giants their first three-game losing streak at home this season." - "Nationals take advantage of Cain's control problems early (Nats win 6-2)" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:
• "Hudson is 16-5 with a 2.45 ERA in 29 career starts against the Nationals." - "Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants - June 12, 2014" - Ryan Hood, MLB.com Preview
• "Maybe the Nationals are going to end up being exactly who we thought they were. That would be a team with virtually no serious flaw, a team capable of playing deep into October." - "Nationals showing baseball what they're made of" - Richard Justice, nationals.com: News
• "Nationals starting pitchers have issued four walks over their last 10 games. Combined. That’s four walks in 71 innings and just one in their last 54." - "What You Need to Know: Walking the Walk" - Chris Mosch and Daniel Rathman, Baseball Prospectus
• "The Potomac Nationals, Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, found a way to make their upcoming bobblehead giveaway unique..." - "Giveaway of the Day: Jayson Werth bobblehead with a real beard" - Mike Axisa, CBSSports.com
• "According to the team, the first 1,000 fans to arrive at Pfitzner Stadium will be going home with a very detailed miniature version of Werth, which includes an all too realistic beard." - "Potomac Nationals giving away Jayson Werth bobblehead with realistic beard" - Mark Townsend, Big League Stew - Yahoo Sports
• "Two weeks ago, the Washington Nationals were 25-27. Now they've won nine of 11, are 34-29 and riding some amazing starting pitching." - "Watch out, NL: Here come the Nationals" - David Schoenfield, SweetSpot Blog - ESPN
• "The Nationals’ streak began with a 3-and-0 count to a disciplined hitter, but Zimmermann got a strike and a following line-out, and so the streak started without anyone noticing, the streak having just been conceived." - "The Whole of the Nationals’ Hidden Lee Streak" - Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs Baseball
FanGraphs: The Whole of the Nationals' Hidden Lee Streak http://t.co/lEVhpBThtH— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) June 11, 2014
• "Hoping that Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford can continue his hot hitting, manager Bruce Bochy elevated him in the batting order for Wednesday night's game against the Washington Nationals." - "Streaking Crawford moves up in Giants' order" - Chris Haft and Ryan Hood, SFGiants.com: News
• "[Jon] Littell, who was considered by many scouting services to be the state’s top-ranked outfielder, was taken in the 39th round by the Washington Nationals." - "Stillwater's Jon Littell expected to attend Oklahoma State" - Jacob Unruh, News OK
• "In his second start coming off the disabled list, Cain (L, 1-4, 3.84 ERA) searched for the strike zone all night." - "Cain crumbles as Giants keep struggling" - Daniel A. Nelson, SFBay
• "The Washington Nationals' Ian Desmond has topped 20 steals for three consecutive seasons, and in the past two he also has contributed 20-plus home runs and a strong batting average." - "Nine targets who could fill a need for speed" - Brian Rudd, BaseballHQ.com/USA TODAY Sports
• NATS MINORS:
• Low-A Hagerstown: "The low Single-A Hagerstown Suns list right-hander Lucas Giolito as their starter for the June 14 home game against Greenville at Municipal Stadium." - "Giolito to start again June 14, Kobernus reports to P-Nats" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• Low-A Hagerstown: "The Hagerstown Suns (43-23) could not complete the three-game sweep of the Lakewood BlueClaws (26-39) on Wednesday night, as the Suns fell in the series finale 10-2." - "Suns fall in series finale, but take 2 of 3 from Lakewood" - Eli Pearlstein, Hagerstown Suns News
• High-A Potomac: "Washington Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez is scheduled to make his second rehabilitation start for the Class-A Advanced Potomac Nationals at Pfitzner Stadium on Thursday..." - "Gio Gonzalez Set for Second Rehabilitation Start with P-Nats" - Potomac Nationals News
• High-A Potomac: "Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, will pitch in his second rehab game for Class A Advanced Potomac on Thursday." - "Gio slated for second rehab outing, could return soon" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News
• "Thursday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com
• "The Washington Nationals have been playing a complete game over the past two weeks, finding success in all areas of the game." - "Nats Clinch Series Behind Zimmerman’s Defensive Gems" - Andrew Flax, The Nats Blog
• "Jordan Zimmermann’s last start, a dominating 6-0 win against the San Diego Padres, was one for the Nationals record books." - "Statistically Speaking: Jordan Zimmermann’s Pitching With A Lead" - Stuart Wallace, District Sports Page
GIF: Dirty Birds http://t.co/o20T7n4FNb— B Sheridan (@md_dc) June 12, 2014
• NL EAST UPDATES:
• Braves: "The bear is making a lot of noise these days, and Braves catcher Evan Gattis is capable of this and even more now that he’s begun to figure out some things at the plate in his second major league season." - "Braves’ Gattis more than just raw power these days" - David O'Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
• Phillies: "Domonic Brown‘s offensive futility continued last night as the outfielder went 0-for-3 with a walk against the San Diego Padres." - "The Phillies Have to See Domonic Brown Through His Struggles" - Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley
• Mets: "Lucroy found himself overwhelmed by juggling his responsibilities, both at the plate and behind it. It’s precisely the predicament facing Mets catcher prospect Travis d’Arnaud." - "What Travis d'Arnaud can learn from the case of Jonathan Lucroy" - Marc Carig, Newsday
• Marlins: "When asked about Furcal on Wednesday, Miami manager Mike Redmond simply said he expects to see the veteran second baseman soon." - "Marlins option Bour; Furcal coming up?" - Joe Frisaro, marlins.com: News