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Janssen emotional after big relief appearance


Janssen emotional after big relief appearance

BALTIMORE — Casey Janssen sat at his locker inside the Camden Yards visiting clubhouse Friday night, a plate of food in his hands, and stared off into nothingness for several minutes. He had made only a brief appearance in the game earlier, but the little dribbler of a single he allowed to Chris Parmalee leading off the bottom of the eighth ultimately led to the tying run scoring, which ultimately led to the Orioles beating the Nationals, 3-2.

Janssen was barely to blame for the loss — he only faced two batters and allowed only the one weak base hit — but what stung most after the game was the feeling the veteran reliever had that he wasn’t contributing to the Nats as much as he or the club hoped.

So when another opportunity came 24 hours later, this time resulting in three key outs recorded to help the Nationals to a 7-4 victory, Janssen again had an emotional response. This time, he was excitedly pumping his fist after striking out both Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce.

“It has to do with me just not really contributing yet,” Janssen said later, pausing as he considered his words. “I feel like there is a place for me here, and I’ve got to find my way. And, I haven’t yet. It was a big spot. It was a spot where I have to build that trust. I have to build the trust of my teammates, the staff, everybody. It was an opportunity for me to show them what I can do.”

Janssen doesn’t feel like he really has shown the Nationals that yet, and it clearly bothers him. Signed over the winter to a $3.5 million contract, the 33-year-old was being counted on to serve as the club’s primary setup man, filling the critical role that opened up with Tyler Clippard was traded to Oakland.

But then Janssen’s shoulder started barking in spring training and he wound up missing the season’s first two months. And since debuting, he has been an inconsistent member of the bullpen, delivering on occasion but not yet establishing himself as manager Matt Williams’ go-to guy for the eighth inning.

This is something of an unfamiliar position for Janssen, who for the previous three years had served as the Blue Jays’ closer, posting 81 saves with a 2.94 ERA.

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He’s not bitter about that, though. He knows, as an unconventional, non-flamethrower, he’ll always need to prove himself year after year.

He just wants the Nationals to know he can be counted on and that talk of the club seeking another late-inning relief option may be premature.

“I want to show them that they don’t need to look any more, but that comes with success,” Janssen said. “I just have to continue to have innings like that and continue to show them that this is the guy that they brought in and you can trust me, it’s going to be all right.”

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?


Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.


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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine


Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.


He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.