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Taylor avoids injury scare, returns to lineup with a bang

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Taylor avoids injury scare, returns to lineup with a bang

When the Nationals realized on Thursday that center fielder Denard Span would be lost for the season, they knew exactly who to turn to. Sitting on their bench was rookie Michael Taylor, the heir apparent at the position, who had mostly thrived this season while Span was recovering from injuries.

But then Thursday night's game transpired and Taylor himself got hurt. The 24-year-old slammed into the center field wall at Nationals Park after leaping on a full sprint. His cleat caught the bottom of the wall and ripped a hole in the green padding. With the contact his knee twisted and he was removed from the game.

The diagnosis was a right knee contusion and the consensus was that it could have been worse. The injury kept him out of Friday's game, but he was able to pinch-hit in Saturday's win. He then returned to the starting lineup on Sunday and played quite well. He had two hits, two runs and even made a running catch in center field, this time avoiding the wall.

It was a positive sign for the Nationals, who are still in the hunt in the NL East. Losing Span is going to hurt, but getting Taylor back and playing well will prevent that loss from becoming even more detrimental.

"No issues [with the knee],"manager Matt Williams said. "I think he’s measured in the things that he does on the field unless he’s really gotta go. Today, he really had to go and there was no issues with it."

"That’s scary anytime a guy plays chicken with the wall. That thing’s not moving, and fortunately he was not injured too badly," Doug Fister said. "He came back strong. He’s a big part of us as a team, and that’s a big thing for us for him to come back."

Taylor had to let the swelling go down before he could return to the Nats' lineup. The Nationals medical staff sent him home with a compression machine after the collision to help that cause.

Taylor is still not 100 percent, but he's getting there.

"It feels much better now. It's still a little swollen and kind of stiff, but everyday I think it will start to feel better and better," he said. 

Taylor's two hits gave him his 24th multi-hit game of the season. He is now batting .243 with 13 homers, 55 RBI 39 runs and 15 steals. He's still a raw talent, but has proven what he is capable of this season.

"Mikey’s been huge all year," Clint Robinson said. "He's going to continue to go out and be our every day center fielder. He’s been huge for this team. He’s been having a really good rookie season, I think. He’s very important to us and he’s a heck of a player."

"He's been great. I can't say enough about the kid," Jayson Werth said. "He's been learning on the job. He's matured a lot this year. Last year he had a great year in the minors and came up. This year he's got a chance to play. It's been good to see his development and see the type of player he can be. There have been a lot of good signs from him, not only this season but for the future and seasons ahead. He looks like a big leaguer to me."

Taylor is still a rookie and is inevitably going to make mistakes as long as he is still learning. But just having him back in the fold improves the Nats' outlook for the rest of this season.

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?

RELATED: 2018 SPRING TRAINING REPORT DATES

Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.

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He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.

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