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Escobar hitting .342 after another 5-hit night

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Escobar hitting .342 after another 5-hit night

PHOENIX — Plenty of members of the Nationals' roster and coaching staff had seen Yunel Escobar over the years and thought they had a decent sense of him as a player. Most did not, however, think he would be what he has proven to be through his first six weeks in a Washington uniform.

"You know, I played against him at Triple-A when he was with the Braves, and he just dominated that league," Denard Span said. "Then I got to the big leagues, and it seemed like he got away from what he was doing at Triple-A when he was with the Braves and then Toronto. I've just been impressed with his work ethic, the way he goes about his business in the cage. He's just a professional hitter. He has a plan when he's going up to the plate. That's what I'm most impressed with. I didn't realize he had that type of gameplan as a hitter playing against him."

Escobar's preparation before games and his ability to put that preparation into practice once he steps into the batter's box has been on full display over the last week. He notched the first 5-for-5 game of his career last Monday against the Marlins, then he duplicated the feat Monday night against the Diamondbacks.

Yes, that's a pair of 5-for-5 games within a week. He's the first Nationals player ever with multiple 5-hit games in a season, and he's the first major leaguer with multiple 5-hit games in a week since Ichiro Suzuki in 2004.

"I'm very happy I had the opportunity to do that," Escobar said through interpreter Nilson Robledo. "I'm very happy I was able to do that for the team."

Escobar has done a whole lot for his team in the last week. Beginning with the 5-hit game against Miami, he's now batting a cool .577 (15-for-26) over his last seven games, raising his batting average to .342 (fifth-best in the NL).

Escobar isn't exactly producing much power — his last 24 hits have all been singles — but the sheer volume of hits he's providing are making a difference, helping both to advance leadoff man Span while also ensuring runners on base for Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper behind him.

"He's calm and he's just taking what's given to him," manager Matt Williams said. "He's hitting the ball middle of the diamond, which creates opportunity. You stand at the middle of the plate and it looks like it's the most-crowded spot on the diamond, but it's actually the biggest. He understands himself, he takes the ball the other way when he has to. We've seen him, over the course of this season anyway, get a bunch of big hits for us."

So, what was the key to Escobar's latest 5-hit night?

"It's the bat," he said with a smile. "It's not me. I'm going to protect that bat."

In fact, Escobar suggested he will retire the bat he used Monday night, having already left it in a protective box inside the clubhouse at Chase Field.

He would have brought the bat back out one more time Monday had his spot in the lineup come up one more time in the top of the ninth. Alas, his teammates couldn't quite move the line enough to give him a crack at becoming the first D.C. major leaguer to record six hits in a game since 1944.

Escobar wasn't too disappointed, though.

"I didn't want to hit anymore," he said. "Enough is enough. My timing is so perfect right now. Sometimes I don't want to do too much."

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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