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Ross shines against former team, pulled early for innings limit

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Ross shines against former team, pulled early for innings limit

The Nationals alluded to the limitations they were ready to apply on starter Joe Ross on Tuesday, as the rookie is already in uncharted territory in terms of innings pitched this season. Tanner Roark was sent to Single-A Potomac to stretch out his arm with the plan to return in September and take Ross' rotation spot. Ross was essentially declared a few starts away from working towards 2016.

If those plans weren't already clear, they certainly are after Thursday night. Ross was brilliant through six innings of work against the Padres, allowing zero earned runs through six innings with just one hit allowed. But despite throwing only 77 pitches, the right-hander was removed before the seventh as manager Matt Williams decided to go to his bullpen much earlier than he normally would.

The Nats were up, but only by two runs in what was a 3-1 game at the time. Yet in came Casey Janssen to pitch the seventh inning.

"The fact that we added one, and we got two in [the fifth inning] and we could get him out of there after the sixth, it was good for him. It’ll just help him stretch through his next starts," Williams explained.

Given the lead and a few fresh arms in the back of his bullpen, Williams saw it as an opportunity to get Ross out of one early.

"Tonight’s an indication that he’s still feeling okay," he said. "If we can limit that and get ourselves in a position to win ballgames, then we want to try to do that. Again, each game will dictate what we can and can’t do."

Ross understands the Nats' intentions for him this season, but was not aware he would be going out so soon on this particular night.

"I wasn't really expecting it. But a call to the bullpen, that's not really my decision. It's fine with me, I guess," he said.

Ross finished with one unearned run, seven strikeouts and two walks in his six innings of work. It was another impressive outing in a growing collection of them for the Nats rookie.

Eight of Ross' 11 career games have been quality starts. In seven of those he has allowed two runs or fewer. That includes his previous start, on Aug. 22 against Milwaukee, when Ross pitched seven innings of one-run ball with zero walks.

Thursday night just happened to come against his former team, a San Diego Padres club that could very much use a 22-year-old standout who holds a 3.24 ERA as a rookie. After all, any team could.

"He's got really good stuff, good composure, doesn't show much emotion on the mound," Ryan Zimmerman said. "He goes out there with a plan and executes. It's been fun to watch. We've enjoyed watching him kind of grow up and become a pitcher at this level. He's got a pretty high ceiling."

Ross hit some bumps along the road earlier in August when he gave up nine earned runs in 8 2/3 total innings across two starts in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But he has rebounded convincingly in the time since.

Ross credits commanding his fastball on the inside of the plate, in particular, as something that has made him especially effective as of late.

"It opens up the outside half of the plate for sure. And it really keeps them from leaning out over the plate, which is probably the biggest thing, to keep them honest. It opens up the outside corner for the bullpen later in the game. That's kind of something I've been trying to work on the past couple games," he said.

The fastball also helped set up his slider on Thursday night, he explained:

"It felt pretty good. I think for the first couple I felt like it snapped out of my fingers. It was a good pitch throughout the night, especially later on the second and third time through the lineup."

Ross is now at 142 2/3 innings on the season, which is over 20 innings more than he's ever pitched in a given year. Last season he threw 121 2/3 innings in the minors and the season before he finished with 122 1/3.

Exactly how far the Nats will push Ross before Roark takes his place has not been outlined publicly. But Ross will be ready for whatever they decide to do.

"I guess I'll go out and keep throwing until they tell me that I'm done," he said.

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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