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Belisle's bullpen went well, ready for next step in injury rehab

Belisle's bullpen went well, ready for next step in injury rehab

Nationals reliever Matt Belisle came out of his Saturday bullpen session fine, as the right-hander continues to work his way back from a strained right calf muscle. The 35-year-old threw 26 pitches and went through his whole repertoire under the watchful eye of the Nats' training staff.

"It went great," Belisle said. "It was totally normal. I felt really good. I threw all of my pitches. I had a hitter stand in. It was great."

Belisle did not require any help in the way of a brace or compression pad on his leg. He feels fine and is ready for the next step in his rehab.

"We're going to do the running outside [Sunday morning] for the first time. We've been knocking down every test so far and it's been great," he said.

Belisle is nearing a minor league rehab assignment and could be ready to leave for one in the coming days.

"I'm knocking on that door pretty heavily. Because we threw and threw the ball well and it was normal, today is another step just to run with my cleats on outside. After that I think it's maybe a sim game and then it's time to go. Just have to convince them that from a baseball standpoint that I'm ready," he said.

The closest Nats affiliate, the Single-A Potomac Nationals, are at home Tuesday through Thursday. They are then in nearby Frederick, Md. through the weekend before returning to Woodbridge, Va. for a long homestand. Low-A Hagerstown is also home Monday through Wednesday.

One part of Belisle's rehab that has stood out to him has been his work with Harvey Sharman, the Nationals' director of sports medicine and medical services. Sharman spent 15 years with the Leeds United soccer team in England before joining the Nats.

All that experience with soccer injuries has come in handy dealing with Belisle's calf strain.

"Harvey in particular has been heading the protocol and seeing it through," Belisle explained. "His experience with the English football over there has proved to be super valuable with this. Not only has he seen so many hamstrings, Achilles' and calves, but he's seen every grade of strain and he's also rehabbed them. He's seen a lot of what not to do, as well as what to do."

Belisle dealt with a right calf strain during the offseason and spring training before making the Nats' Opening Day roster. He then left the Nats' game on April 26 against the Phillies after tweaking the muscle trying to field a groundball. Belisle was placed on the 15-day disabled list that same day and has been gone for 18 games.

Belisle has allowed one earned run in six innings (1.50 ERA) in seven total appearances this season.

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Nats give up monster HR, drop series-opener with Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Nats give up monster HR, drop series-opener with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO  -- Mac Williamson hit a two-run homer in the sixth to lead the Giants past the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Monday night.

Chris Stratton (2-1) struck out five over 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and four hits.

Williamson, playing his first home game at AT&T Park this season after being called up during the recent road trip, connected with a deep drive to right-center off Shawn Kelley after he relieved starter Gio Gonzalez (2-2). Gonzalez walked Brandon Belt to end his day before Williamson crushed the first pitch he saw from Kelley.

The 464-foot shot by Williamson is the furthest homer by the Giants this year, topping his previous 434-foot homer Friday after he was promoted to face the Angels in Anaheim. Earlier Monday, Williamson drove in his team's initial run on a fielder's choice in the fourth.

Only three home runs have travelled further in 2018, according to MLB StatCast: Franchy Cordero (489), Avisail Garcia (481) and Marcell Ozuna (479)

San Francisco kicked off a 10-game homestand by winning back-to-back games for only the second time this season and first since April 4-7. The Giants were coming off their first series victory of the season against the Angels.

The Nationals' runs came on a pair of sacrifice flies, by Howie Kendrick in the third and pinch-hitter Andrew Stevenson in the seventh.

Gonzalez allowed three runs and four hits, struck out four and walked three in five innings.

In his only other start against Washington, Stratton threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts last Aug. 13.

Hunter Strickland, who brawled with Bryce Harper during Washington's last visit to AT&T Park in late May 2017, finished for his fourth save in six chances. Harper didn't bat in the ninth.

NATS TRADE COLE

Washington traded right-hander A.J. Cole to the New York Yankees for cash. The 26-year-old Cole was 1-1 with a 13.06 ERA in four games for the Nationals and was designated for assignment last week.

BAKER REUNION

Ex-Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who guided Washington to back-to-back NL East titles before his firing after last season, visited the ballpark to see his former club.

Did he plan the visit in advance?

"Maybe," Baker said, grinning.

Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg hustled out to give Baker a big hug behind the batting cage.

"What's up Dusty, how you doing?" Strasburg said.

Baker also visited with third base coach Bob Henley, the loan holdover from his coaching staff.

Baker is now working in an advisory role to Giants CEO Larry Baer while getting to watch son, Darren, play his freshman college season at California in Berkeley.

"I am good," Baker said. "How bad can it be between Cal, San Francisco and Sacramento?"

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: OF Adam Eaton, on the disabled list retroactive to April 9 with a bone bruise in his left ankle, won't be rushed back until he is completely pain-free. "When you see him in the lineup he'll be ready," manager Dave Martinez said. "He's coming along. When we get him back this time we don't want any issues." ... OF Brian Goodwin remains in Florida with pain in his bruised left wrist.

Giants: LHP Will Smith is eagerly anticipating his return from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of last season, and he could come off the DL as soon as Tuesday. He pitched twice for Class-A San Jose and three times so far for Triple-A Sacramento. He is scheduled to throw consecutive days for Sacramento on Wednesday and Thursday then another short outing Sunday. "We're close. We're getting there," Smith said, noting it will be "awesome. I'm ready to go." ... RHP closer Mark Melancon (flexor strain in pitching elbow) is scheduled to play catch during Thursday's off day. There is no timetable for his return, manager Bruce Bochy said. ... LF Hunter Pence (sprained right thumb) did some hitting and is scheduled for early batting practice Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Giants lefty Ty Blach (1-3, 4.10 ERA) will face the Nationals for the first time in his career when he pitches the middle game of the series opposite right-hander Tanner Roark (1-1, 3.24).

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Bryce Harper, broken bats, and bobbleheads: a true trifecta

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Bryce Harper, broken bats, and bobbleheads: a true trifecta

Bryce Harper can do no wrong.

Last week in a win over the New York Mets, Bryce Harper, in super-human fashion, managed to shatter his bat while still hitting a home run.

It was as incredible as you think it is. Click the link in the line above here if you don't believe us. 

In what was already a one-of-one scenario, the cherry on top has been officially added: a Bryce Harper, broken-bat bobblehead.

The company that will be producing the legendary figurines is Sports Fan Island, who have gotten the bobbleheads licensed through both the MLB and the MLBPA.

The details on the bobblehead speak for themselves, from the intricacy of the broken bat, to the flames surrounding home plate under Harper.  

Despite the fact that the bobbleheads don't officially ship until July, fans can begin to pre-order this piece of historic memorabilia for $39.99, so you may want to grab them while they're still hot. 

RELATED: 2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS- APRIL UPDATE