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Clippard believes he's back in form

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Clippard believes he's back in form

ST. LOUIS -- It was only one outing, lasting all of three batters. But it was the first time he'd retired the side in 2 12 weeks, so Tyler Clippard had plenty of reason to feel good about his performance after it was over Thursday night in Philadelphia.

"I was itching to get back out there," the Nationals reliever said. "The last few days, I've been working on some things, and I knew I was close. I wanted to get back out there, and I'm glad I got in there tonight."

Clippard hadn't pitched a clean inning since Sept. 10, following up that appearance in New York with six consecutive shaky outings, including four straight in which the right-hander surrendered a run.

During that stretch, Clippard lost his closer's job to Drew Storen, though Davey Johnson remained confident enough in him to use him in a setup role. And that's where he'll stay through the rest of the regular season and into the postseason.

"It can be like a hitter going in a little slump," Johnson explained prior to Friday night's game against the Cardinals. "Am I going to take him out of the lineup, just because he had a couple oh-fers? No. I'm the same way on relievers. I know what he can do. I'm going to ask him to do it again. He doesn't have to prove anything to me. He's been great, not just this year but last year, too. I haven't lost any confidence at all in him."

Clippard has been working with pitching coach Steve McCatty, trying to figure out what was going wrong during his rough patch. Their conclusion: Clippard wasn't locating his fastball down in the strike zone enough.

"I can look back on those outings, and they kind of come back to just one or two pitches, and most of the time they were fastballs right down the middle," he said. "And you're not going to have success, especially in fastball counts. So it's kind of just getting that confidence back, and I think Thursday night helped me do that."

Clippard isn't satisfied with the way he pitched through much of September, but at this stage of the season he's more concerned about how he'll pitch in October. And he's confident Thursday night's performance is a sign of things to come.

"I'm not too worried at this point in the season about my numbers or anything like that," he said. "I just want to get going for the playoffs, get right for that. Time it up right so I can go on a good stretch here for the last month or so of the season, for the playoffs."

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals have agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with outfielder Howie Kendrick, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Agent Pat Murphy confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Monday. USA Today was first to report the deal.

Kendrick, 34, hit .293 with seven home runs and RBIs in 52 games with Washington after he was acquired from Philadelphia. The versatile right-handed hitter got just three plate appearances off the bench in the playoffs.

In 12 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .291 hitter with a .755 OPS. He's now primarily an outfielder for Washington after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.

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See hilarious highlights from Nats' Racing Presidents tryouts

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USA Today Sports Images

See hilarious highlights from Nats' Racing Presidents tryouts

Ever wonder how you can become one of the Washington Nationals' Racing Presidents or what it takes to get the job?

The team recently detailed the requirements and held tryouts on Sunday for the next group of presidents to carry on the 12-season tradition.

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While the basic requirements are pretty standard — be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, etc. — the specifics are quite unusual compared with a typical job. Among them, presidential candidates need to be at least 5-foot-7 but no taller than 6-foot-6 and able to run from centerfield to first base in a 50-pound costume. Needless to say, those who were invited to try out had to be in pretty good physical shape.

So in bitter cold temperatures, participants raced against each other in a 40-yard dash with the 50-pound costume on. They also danced.

Here are some of the highlights from Sunday’s Racing Presidents tryouts.

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