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Baker explains why he pulled Strasburg during his no-hit bid

Baker explains why he pulled Strasburg during his no-hit bid

Even before Sunday, it seemed likely that the Nationals would handle Stephen Strasburg with care in his first outing back from a 15-day disabled list stint. 

But the performance he delivered in the Nats' 12-1 romp of the Cincinnati Reds was just dominant enough to test that approach, putting Dusty Baker in a classic managerial quandary: should Strasburg, who hadn't allowed a hit on 93 pitches through six shutout innings, be allowed to go for the no-hitter? Or is the risk of future injury not worth the reward? 

As it turns out, history would take a backseat to health. Though Strasburg took the no-no through 6 2/3 innings, he had thrown 109 pitches — too many, in Baker's opinion, to keep going. 

"It’s tough taking a guy out of a no-hitter," the manager said. "But we have to think about the future and where he had come from off the DL."

The call to remove Strasburg was antithetical to the popular notion that Baker has a tendency to overwork his starters. In this instance, it was clear that the pitch count was too high, so Strasburg didn't sound particularly disappointed that his manager opted to take the ball from him in the seventh. 

"Yeah, I understand where he’s coming from," he said of Baker's decision. "There’s more important things, hopefully, down the road for this team."

Though hopes of a historically special outing were dashed, Strasburg's start saw him pick up right where he left off prior to suffering an upper back strain two weeks ago. Sunday's effort raised his record to 11-0, making him the first National League pitcher to accomplish the feat since Andy Hawkins did it in 1985. 

"I felt pretty good," Strasburg said. "I just told myself today not to have too high expectations as far as execution and just really make it a point not make it affect the next one."

The 27-year-old right hander wasn't particularly overpowering out of the gate, looking erratic in the strike zone as he surrendered walks to two of the game's first three hitters. But that's about all the adversity he'd face against the Reds' lineup the rest of the way. In total, he registered four walks and while tallying five strikeouts. 

"He settled in," Baker said. "He threw an outstanding game. We were trying ot get him through the seventh, but his pitch count got kind of high, especially his first time out there."

When Strasburg was first placed on the DL a week ago, there was a fear among some fans that the effects of his injury could linger well past his return to the rotation. But if Sunday was any indication, it appears the Nats' best starter this season is back to his old ways. 

"It was awesome to see him come off the DL and see him throw like that," Danny Espinosa said. "He’s a huge part of this team and a huge part of a reason why we win.”

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE