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Sleepy Maldonado ready to help Nats

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Sleepy Maldonado ready to help Nats

Bleary-eyed and with most of his possessions at his apartment in Syracuse, Carlos Maldonado sat inside the Nationals' clubhouse this morning, an attendant helping him adjust his new, red shin guards to make sure they properly fit.

The 33-year-old had caught nine innings yesterday afternoon in Syracuse, then joined his teammates on a nine-hour bus ride to Columbus, Ohio. About halfway through the trip, he got word he was being summoned to Washington after rookie Sandy Leon had suffered a serious ankle injury in his big-league debut. But a traffic jam prevented the Chiefs' bus from arriving until 2 a.m. Maldonado's flight to Washington departed at 5:30 a.m. Upon landing, he came straight to Nationals Park to make sure he'd be in uniform and available to serve as the backup catcher for today's series finale against the Padres.

So, how much sleep did Maldonado get?

"Not much," he said. "But it's worth it."

This isn't Maldonado's first rodeo in the big leagues. He's played in 25 total games with the Pirates (2006-07) and Nationals (2010) but had never been summoned quite in this fashion.

Close friends with Leon, Maldonado was heartbroken to learn last night the 23-year-old had suffered a high right ankle sprain on a collision at the plate and would be placed on the disabled list. This came only two days after starter Wilson Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee, necessitating Leon's promotion.

"Leon called me and gave me the news he was getting called up, and I talked to him a lot," Maldonado said. "He was excited, but it was his first game in the big leagues and he got hurt. I feel bad for him. He's a great guy and a great kid."

Officially, Leon was placed on the 15-day DL. Ramos was then transferred to the 60-day DL, clearing a spot on the Nationals' 40-man roster for Maldonado.

"We're fortunate," manager Davey Johnson said. "I've said it a lot that we have a lot of depth at catching, but this is getting ridiculous."

Maldonado figures to start once or twice a week in place of Jesus Flores, who now takes over as the Nationals' No. 1 catcher. Above all else, though, Johnson has one important plan for the veteran backstop.

"Keep him healthy," the manager said.

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT