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Nats believe Taylor has proven self as rookie


Nats believe Taylor has proven self as rookie

Michael Taylor was kept out of the Nationals’ lineup Friday night, not because his swollen right knee was preventing him from playing, but because manager Matt Williams had been looking to give the young center fielder a day off and felt the time was right.

With the Nationals scheduled to face a pair of Marlins left-handers — Justin Nicolino and Brad Hand — the rest of the weekend, Williams wanted to make sure Taylor got a day off now, giving him a chance to return for those more-favorable matchups.

“He’s played a lot,” Williams said. “We’ll just give him a day today and then [he’ll face] a couple of lefties the next two days.”

Taylor indeed has played a lot this season, far more than the Nationals originally planned. The 24-year-old would have been pegged to open the season as the starting center fielder at Class AAA Syracuse, but when Denard Span was sidelined by a variety of injuries, Taylor found himself staying in the big leagues the entire year.

He heads into the final two weeks of the season having played in 124 games, totaling 460 plate appearances (fourth-most on the roster).

Taylor’s production has dropped off some as the season has progressed: He’s hitting just .172 with a .479 OPS over his last 17 games, striking out 20 times. “I think he’s venturing out of the strike zone a little more than he has been,” Williams said.

The physical grind of a full season can take a toll on a young player, but Williams believes that’s less of a concern than the other challenge players like Taylor face near the end of their first full big-league campaign.

“I think when you’re young, you don’t really feel it physically,” he said. “The mental grind of the whole thing is something guys aren’t used to, unless you’ve been through it. Once you get through it, then you understand it. But I know Mikey, in particular, has embraced the opportunity and taken advantage of it. He’s played pretty well.”

Taylor currently owns a .234 batting average, .283 on-base percentage and .658 OPS, but his 14 homers rank seventh among NL rookies while his 61 RBI rank third.

There were plenty of questions about Taylor entering this season, with club officials needing to find out whether he would be ready to take over for Span in 2016. The Nationals appear pleased with what they’ve learned.

“I think he’s answered it,” Williams said. “I really do. I think he’s answered the question. He’s been productive. His average with runners in scoring position (.330) is really good. He’s showing the ability to cut the swing down in those situations, in particular. Hit a few homers. Stole a few bases. Played great in center field. I think that on-the-job training has been good for him. It certainly wasn’t the plan going in, but it’ll be good for him in the long run.”

MORE NATIONALS: MLB Power Rankings: Cardinals, Blue Jays looking scary

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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.