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Maddon vs. Johnson settles down

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Maddon vs. Johnson settles down

The animosity drawn from Tuesdays pine tar incident between the Nationals and Rays carried over prominently in each teams managers pregame comments, but through Wednesdays 3-2 Washington win there was little substance to what looked like signs of a continued feud.

No, Joe Maddon didnt have the umpires check Stephen Strasburgs ball before the first pitch. No, Maddon and Joel Peralta didnt try to rile up Nats fans when he ran out prematurely from the dugout. And, no Maddon didnt mouth I want to tick these guys off, when he sent Peralta to the mound.

In fact, the rift between Maddon and Davey Johnson seems to have been squashed sometime between their pregame comments and the first pitch of the game.

After being called a weird wuss by Johnson, eyes were opened at 7:05 p.m. as umpire Jeff Nelson trotted to the mound to inspect the ball Strasburg was about to commence the game with.

I thought he was going to check my glove, but he didnt ask for that. He just wanted the baseball because I threw it in the dirt and I think Flores short-hopped to second or something like that, Strasburg said.

Johnson told the same story afterwards, that catcher Jesus Flores bounced it to the bag on a routine warm-up throw to second and the umpires were just being cautious.

We kind of had a laugh on the bench. When the umpire came out he wanted to look at the ball and he came out to look at it instead of asking for the ball because it bounced on the throw to second, he said.

Stras was getting ready to undress. He took his glove off, he had everything, and the ump said 'No, I just want the ball.' I mean, Zim came in and everybody was making fun, he's ready to take everything off and let them search him.

Things got interesting again at the end of the seventh inning as Peralta was warming in the bullpen with Nats lefty Sean Burnett on the mound. Burnett induced an inning-ending double play by Hideki Matsui that Maddon hadnt anticipated. He thought Peralta would have more time warming before the inning was over. Peralta ran out of the bullpen five or six strides before turning around and going back in.

Thats my fault because Matsui grounded into the double play so fast we could not do all the things that we wanted to do. So, get him back and let Burke Badenhop pitch to the first guy and then make the switch after that, he said.

Maddon basically balked in making the switch as he wanted Badenhop to remain in the game because their ninth hitter was due up in the next frame.

Peralta did end up making it in the game as Maddon summoned the right-hander as part of a double switch after the first batter of the eighth was retired. Several Tampa reporters thought they read Maddons lips on their local broadcast saying basically he was trying to irk the Nats by bringing him in the game.

Maddon didnt exactly deny saying it, but didnt offer up any confirmation either.

I say that a lot. I dont remember that honestly. I would absolutely admit to it, but I dont remember saying that, he said. Peralta was jacked up enough, he didnt need me to say anything to him.

When Peralta took the mound he did hear it from the Nationals crowd, they booed loudly as he approached the mound and scattered taunts throughout his appearance. But all in all, the fireworks of Johnson vs. Maddon was kept between them and set aside when the game started.

Even the players said they thought something was going to happen, it just never did.

You kind of expected something to happen especially after yesterday, but nothing really went down, Strasburg said.

There is one more chance of course as the Nationals host the Rays for the third game of the series on Thursday at Nats Park. Whether the feud is re-ignited or not, this sure has been a unique year for the Nationals both on and off the field.

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Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wieters aren't the only important guys within the Nationals organization becoming free agents in 2019.

President of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo is also becoming a free agent when his contract expires on October 31st.

In the final year of his five-year contract, the 57-year old is set to make $2.5 million.

RELATED: HOWIE KENDRICK RETURNING TO NATIONALS

Since joining the organization, Rizzo has turned the team into a legit World Series contender. They've won four division titles in the last six years under his guidance, but have been unable to get over the NL Division series hump. And even though that's a glaring red mark on his resume, Rizzo knows the success he's brought to the organization. 

When you look at what we accomplished,’’ Mike Rizzo said in a recent interview, “it’s really unsung and underappreciated. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished here. I like it here. I love the city. I love the team I put together. I like being a GM in the NL East. And I want to stay here. I just think I deserve to be treated like some of the best GMs in the game are, too.

Rizzo is talking about GM's like Cubs' Theo Epstein and Yankees' Brian Cashman, who've received big paydays over the last year.

I know we haven’t won the World Series, but I get tired of hearing how we can’t win the big one, or we can’t get out of the first round. We haven’t had that many chances.

Does Rizzo deserve an extension? The Sports Junkies think he does, but with GM's like the ones above cashing out, they can also see him wanting to test the open market.

"Why wouldn't they?", said Jason Bishop, noting his track record.

"There's a sense he wants to test the market," said Eric Bickel. That's the vibe I'm getting from him."

Rizzo is a weekly guest on the Junkies and has said that the organization will figure it out. However, the 2018 season may be the last time for a long time the Nats have a real shot at making a run before they lose some of their stars to other teams. If Rizzo does take that into consideration and decides to go elsewhere, the Junkies don't see him having any issues finding employment.

"If there was a time to roll, it would be after this season when you get your last run with this group," said Eric Bickel. And then If they don't pay you what you think you deserve, he'll be snatched up in 22 seconds."

RELATED: BEST OF NATS' RACING PRESIDENT TRYOUTS

If they do decide to sign him to an extension, will it be a long, drawn-out ordeal? The Junkies disagree on that one. 

"He is too valuable, Jason Bishop said. He's too valuable. You gotta ink him to a deal sometime during the season."

Luckily for D.C. sports fans, long, drawn-out extension talks aren't foreign to them.

To see their full discussion, click the media player above. 

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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.