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Nationals beat: 24 hours of Nats coverage from NJ to Nationals Park

Armed with an iPhone, its voice recorder, a beat up laptop and a Subaru, we travel from New Jersey to the nation's capital in 24 hours on the Washington Nationals beat. A loss in Tampa Bay, Stephen Strasburg's rehab start, a loss in D.C....

[ed. note - "I originally submitted this as our weekly post over at MASN's Nationals Buzz, but they, probably correctly, said it was not for them, and it is admittedly a bit naval-gaze-y, but having written it, and with it being Friday afternoon and all, I figured, 'Heck, why not just post it over here anyway since it was already written.' Anyway, like I said, it's Friday, and we all know that's the time to publish stuff you hope that no one ever really sees. So here it is... Me talking into my phone."]

Wednesday, June 17 - 1:00 AM: Trying desperately to finish up post game story. is down so no way to go back and look at the plays from tonight's game. Lots of post game quotes from Matt Williams, but it's hard to write a story without (accurate) details from the game. End up writing a humorous piece or an attempt at one at least about how William sticks to his message whenever he talks to the press after games.

Williams: "There's momentum within a game, but game-to-game it doesn't matter. So, tonight we were patient when we knew we had to be and we got in situations and delivered..."

2:30 AM: Wednesday morning, finished quick edit of story. Plan is to be on the road by 5:00 AM for four-hour trip to Washington from N.J.

4:30 AM: After two hours sleep managed to get up and in the car by 5 AM on the way to Washington. Garden State Parkway - NJ Turnpike to 95 South - Baltimore-Washington Parkway

Playlist: Beach Boys' "Smile"; Bob Dylan and the Band: "The Basement Tapes."

5:30 AM: Sunrise behind my left shoulder as I drive down the Turnpike.

Playlist: Sufjan Stevens: "Age of Adz"; Deerhunter: "Monomania", Liars: "Mess"; Belle and Sebastian.

6:00 AM: Notes - Thoughts: Put together most of a story about Stephen Strasburg before I left somewhat surprised at how quickly he's returning to the mound considering the issues that landed him on the DL.

Thinking is that if he gets through rehab start he'll be just about ready to return to the majors which is a surprise I think.

Strasburg is making first rehab start today. If all goes well could be back in the majors five days from now. How could he possibly have figured out whatever problems were causing his troubles in such a short time?

6:41 AM: Reminder - Look back and see what Trea Turner did in his Harrisburg debut. A lot of interesting stuff talking about how he could be in the majors as soon as this year --seems unlikely, unless late. But the Nationals have brought up prospects his age in the past. Check age for Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa's MLB debuts -- pretty sure they were both 22 or 23 -- (both 23) -- probably not as advanced though...

Turner has put up good numbers in college and so far the minor leagues playing at AA at 21 already...

9:31 AM: Arrive in D.C., unpack quickly, and back to work on Strasburg story.

With Stras and Doug Fister coming back, Nats have decisions to make. Tanner Roark back to pen? Taylor Hill to Triple-A? Joe Ross back to Double-A?

11:31 AM: Finished edit of Stras/Fister story with enough time to run to District Taco for lunch before Strasburg's rehab start in Harrisburg. Bonus.

12:00-1:30: for Strasburg's rehab start. Fastball looked good, locating it well, blowing Double-A hitters away up high and also getting them to chase curves out of the zone low, though they looked like pitches MLB hitters would spit on. 71 pitches, 6 Ks. 96-98 with FB.

2:30 PM: Arrive at Nats Park 12 hours after I went to sleep in NJ. Do pregame notes, Zimmemann's rough starts last two times out. MW's thoughts on Stras and plans for rotation.

MW on Strasburg's rehab start: "We have to see how he is feeling after today and how he gets through his bullpen which won't be for a couple more days. But after that if he feels good to go, then -- his pitch count is such that it would be his final Spring Training pitch count anyway in anticipation of start no.1 for the season at 80 or 85 pitches anyway, so he would be good to 100-ish for the next start, so if he feels good, there's no reason we wouldn't think about that."

4:15 PM: After Matt Williams' pregame meeting with reporters, return to press box in Nationals Park, finish up night's GameThread (chat for readers) before transcribing Williams' comments on rotation going forward, work Tanner Roark and Joe Ross have done filling in, etc.

MW: "Joe [Ross] has done fine. But the plan going into the season was to have those five guys in the rotation and Tanner in the bullpen. Never in our wildest imagination we thought Joe Ross would be here."

6:15 PM: Time for a pretzel. Bonus.

7:05: First pitch. 24 hours after 16-run, 23-hit explosion Nats come up empty through seven and a half and then it's a worst-case scenario, a rain delay at around 9:15. Already tough staying awake.

30 minutes later: Play resumes. Nationals get shut out by Rays.

10:00PM-10:24: MW post game presser.

Best quote: MW - "I mean, if I had the formula, if anybody had that formula, we'd certainly do something about it. We'd love to get 23 hits every day, score a bunch of runs. Unfortunately, the way baseball is, that doesn't happen."

11:00-11:15: Nats Nightly radio show with Tom Bridge from District Sports Page.

12:00 AM: Arrive back at temporary home. Think I'll lie down for a minute...