The biggest piece of news from Nats manager Dusty Baker's Saturday morning press availibility involved outfielder Matt den Dekker getting called up to serve as the 26th man for the team's doubleheader against the Marlins. Baker, though, touched on plenty more subjects, of course.
Baker, for one, gave an update on the rehab of reliever Matt Belisle. The right-hander was set to throw a bullpen session on Saturday to test his strained right calf muscle. If that goes fine, he could embark on a minor league rehab assignment soon and take the next step in his road back.
Bryce Harper's one-game suspension stemming from Monday's game against the Tigers is still in limbo due to the appeal process. Harper has the option of dropping the appeal and serving his suspension, or continuing to fight it with help from the players' union. Baker wouldn't reveal how, but he believes it will be sorted out in due time.
"Yeah, I've got an idea. But I can't tell you. You'll find out soon," he said.
In a lighter moment, Baker was asked about the smokeless tobacco ban in New York City, which will apply to the Nationals soon as they play at the Mets in a Tue.-Thu. series at Citi Field. Baker was coy about how he thinks it will affect his own team.
"Maybe everybody quit because I haven't heard anybody getting busted… I don't know anybody that dips," he joked.
Baker also discussed headfirst slides into first base. Center fielder Ben Revere unsuccessfully dove into first base in Friday night's win over the Marlins. Baker understands what Revere was trying to do, but generally prefers his players to not slide headfirst into first.
"I'd rather guys didn't, but I appreciate the effort. There's a lot of things that can go wrong. Mainly your thumb, your fingers or your wrist, your shoulder; there's a lot of things that can go wrong. But how do you stop effort? I mean, [Ryan Zimmerman] did it just a few days ago. I don't want to ward effort, but at the same time you've gotta be smart about it. And it's not like I've got a shock collar and I can just press the button as soon as I start seeing them going into a dive. It's really out of control when they're out there playing," he said.