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Nationals not overly concerned injuries will affect defense in playoffs

Nationals not overly concerned injuries will affect defense in playoffs

Look around the field and the Nationals have questions about the health of many players, to varying degrees. 

At first base, Ryan Zimmerman is nursing a sore calf muscle. At second, Daniel Murphy has a left buttock strain. At catcher, Jose Lobaton has a right ankle that just over a week ago he described as good to play, but not great.

In the outfield, Jayson Werth missed the team's final two games with back tightness. Bryce Harper jammed his thumb late in the season and may or may not still be dealing with a neck and right shoulder issue.

Those injuries are all relatively minor. With the exception of Murphy, each ailment shouldn't affect their status for Game 1 on Friday. But add them all up, and combine them with Trea Turner's inexperience in center field, one could argue there are questions about the Nationals' defense as they get set for a playoff run.

"If they put their hands on it, most of the time you're out. It's just a matter of how much range they may have," manager Dusty Baker said. 

"I've got some capable guys that I can put in there, but then that makes my bench weaker as I interject guys into the game depending on when I interject them into the game. Do you have some younger, lesser players then facing some of their horses at the end? I'm going to be very cognizant of who they have left, who they may bring in and the matchups that might be coming. That's part of the job."

[RELATED: Dusty Baker: Playoffs 'where I'm supposed to be']

With ace pitchers like Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw on the mound, runs may come at a premium. They always do in the postseason. Small mistakes can loom large and alter games and series, especially when it's a best of five. 

Murphy himself learned that the hard way in the World Series last fall. His Mets committed five errors - two by Murphy himself - and it cost them against the Kansas City Royals. 

The Nationals, to be fair, have been among the best defensive teams in baseball this season. They had the second-fewest errors, the second-best fielding percentage and the fifth-best defensive efficiency rating. Defense is one of their strengths, but injuries can change everything and the Nats have a long list of them at the moment.

GM Mike Rizzo, for one, is not at all concerned.

"I love our defense. We're a very efficient defensive team," he said. "When we get to it, we catch it and we usually throw you out. So we feel good about that. Part of the defense is that guy in the middle of the field and we feel really good about that part of it."

The Nationals do have that working for them. If Scherzer has his strikeout stuff, defense may not matter as much as it usually does, at least in Game 1.

[RELATED: Nats to have Adam and Drake LaRoche throw out 1st pitch in playoffs]


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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

USA Today Sports

Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.

Dancing is not.

On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor. 

With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch." 

Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.

While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."


It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.

While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle. 

106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.