Nationals

Quick Links

Taylor, Solis called up; Johnson to DL, Cole demoted

michaeltaylor032315.png

Taylor, Solis called up; Johnson to DL, Cole demoted

Updated at 6:39 p.m.

ATLANTA — The Nationals made another flurry of roster moves Wednesday afternoon, promoting outfielder Michael Taylor and left-hander Sammy Solis to the majors, placing outfielder Reed Johnson on the 15-day disabled list and optioning right-hander A.J. Cole back to the minors after his difficult debut the previous night.

The moves were necessary for two reasons: 1) The Nationals planned to send Cole down all along following his spot start in place of injured ace Max Scherzer and needed to add a reliever to bring their bullpen back up to full capacity, and 2) Johnson’s calf strain, suffered during the seventh inning Tuesday night, opened a vacancy for another backup outfielder.

Johnson is expected to miss significant time with what the team officially called a left calf strain. (Manager Matt Williams initially said Tuesday night that Johnson “tore” a muscle in his foot that extended up the back of his lower leg.) The 38-year-old outfielder, who had doubled in a key run during the Nationals’ record-setting rally, was 4-for-18 on the season.

“The severity is that it’s a pulled muscle there, a pulled muscle on the outside that kind of runs underneath your foot,” Williams said Wednesday. “Now that he’s on the DL, we’ll get him the opportunity to go see [a doctor] and get [an MRI] of it and see what it is exactly.”

The choice of Taylor to replace Johnson was a bit of a surprise, given the Nationals’ decision to option the promising young outfielder back to Class AAA Syracuse only nine days ago when Denard Span came off the DL. The thinking was that Taylor needed to play every day and wouldn’t get enough at-bats at the big-league level.

The Nationals, though, feel they can give Taylor at least a couple starts a week, trying to give Span and Jayson Werth (who also missed all of spring training) more regular days off.

“We might have an opportunity to get him more at-bats than before,” general manager Mike Rizzo said, “with Werth and Span kind of rounding out of spring training shape.”

Solis, meanwhile, will become the fifth different pitcher to make his MLB debut for the Nationals in the last two weeks after his promotion from Class AA Harrisburg. The 26-year-old lefty, the organization’s second-round pick in the 2010 draft, originally was touted as back-of-the-rotation candidate but after dealing with injuries in the minors (including Tommy John surgery in 2012) he now gets his chance to make it as a reliever.

“I wouldn’t say I ever doubted myself as a ballplayer,” said Solis, who had an army of family members and friends fly in from Phoenix to see him potentially debut in Atlanta. “But I doubted whether my body could handle it. Last year, I felt fantastic, and then I get up to Harrisburg and my elbow starts barking again. That was the toughest thing for me, because I had already gone through Tommy John, had come back and then to fall backward again was hard. But I’ve just been working as hard as I can, and holding up now, which is nice.”

Rated the Nationals’ 15th-best prospect by Baseball America this winter, Solis posted a 2.25 ERA in three games at Harrisburg after opening the season at extended spring training. He owns a 3.30 ERA in parts of five minor-league seasons.

“He’s a guy with really good stuff,” Rizzo said. “And every time I’ve seen him pitch, be it in the minor leagues or as an amateur or big-league camp, he’s thrown extremely well for us. He just keeps getting sidetracked by these injuries. We thought maybe a bullpen role will keep him able to pitch more.”

Wednesday’s moves leave the Nationals with three left-handers in their bullpen for the time being, with Solis joining veteran Matt Thornton and fellow rookie Matt Grace.

Quick Links

Bryce Harper, broken bats, and bobbleheads: a true trifecta

bryceharperbobblehead.jpg
washington nats

Bryce Harper, broken bats, and bobbleheads: a true trifecta

Bryce Harper can do no wrong.

Last week in a win over the New York Mets, Bryce Harper, in super-human fashion, managed to shatter his bat while still hitting a home run.

It was as incredible as you think it is. Click the link in the line above here if you don't believe us. 

In what was already a one-of-one scenario, the cherry on top has been officially added: a Bryce Harper, broken-bat bobblehead.

The company that will be producing the legendary figurines is Sports Fan Island, who have gotten the bobbleheads licensed through both the MLB and the MLBPA.

The details on the bobblehead speak for themselves, from the intricacy of the broken bat, to the flames surrounding home plate under Harper.  

Despite the fact that the bobbleheads don't officially ship until July, fans can begin to pre-order this piece of historic memorabilia for $39.99, so you may want to grab them while they're still hot. 

RELATED: 2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS- APRIL UPDATE

 

Quick Links

Can Gio Gonzalez lift Nats out of losing streak in series opener vs. Giants?

usatsi_10079985.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Can Gio Gonzalez lift Nats out of losing streak in series opener vs. Giants?

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Giants right-hander Chris Stratton will seek to duplicate two impressive efforts when he takes the mound for the opener of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Monday night at 10:15 p.m. ET.

The series is the first in San Francisco since Giants reliever Hunter Strickland plunked Nationals star Bryce Harper with a pitch last May, triggering a brawl at the mound that resulted in the ejection of both players.

The Giants got the worst of the altercation, with slugging backup Michael Morse suffering a career-ending concussion in a collision with teammate Jeff Samardzija near the mound.

Stratton wasn't with the Giants at the time, but he contributed one of the best-pitched games of his young career when the clubs met again in Washington in August.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER HOME RUN TRACKER

Making just his third career start, the 27-year-old shut out the Nationals on five hits over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-2 win. He struck out 10.

It's the only time he has faced Washington.

Stratton (1-1, 2.22) has won just four times since, and came close to a fifth when he limited Arizona to one run in seven innings in his last start on Wednesday. He did not, however, get a decision in the 4-3 win, during which he recorded eight strikeouts.

The Giants will be opening a 10-game homestand following a 10-game trip on which they went just 4-6. Statton started two of the four wins.

Stratton wasn't the only Giants starter who pitched well on the trip. The club is coming off a series win against the Los Angeles Angels in which both Samardzija and Johnny Cueto took shutouts late into wins.

Strickland saved Sunday's 4-2 win for Cueto, and afterward was asked about his thoughts of seeing Harper again.

"Win a series," is all he would say.

RELATED: LATEST MLB POWER RANKINGS

In the Nationals, the Giants will be seeing a team coming off a high-profile series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, one that included a meeting on Sunday Night Baseball.

Washington lost two of three in the rematch of 2017 division winners, scoring a total of just eight runs on 21 hits in the three games, which ended with the Nationals stranding two in the top of the ninth of a 4-3 loss on Sunday.

Harper went 2-for-10 in the series, which the Nationals played without injured regulars Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton. They remain out.

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 2.49) will oppose Stratton.

The veteran has made 12 career starts against the Giants, going 5-4 with a 3.06 ERA.

He restored order to the Nationals-Giants series in San Francisco last season the day after the brawl, pitching 6 1/3 innings in a 6-3 win. It improved his record at AT&T Park to 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA in seven starts.

Gonzalez threw 97 pitches in beating the New York Mets 5-2 in his last start, allowing two runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday.

That pitch total wasn't even five times the number Giants first baseman Brandon Belt saw in one historic at-bat Sunday against the Angels' Jaime Barria in the first inning.

Belt fouled off 16 pitches and flied out on the 21st pitch of the at-bat, the most pitches in a Major League Baseball at-bat since 1988.

Afterward, Belt apologized.

"When I'm in the field, I hate it when a batter keeps fouling pitches off," he insisted. "I'm like, 'Dude, just put it in play. It's not that hard. Let's go.' So, I basically had to apologize to everybody after that."

RELATED: HOW NATS DROPPED FINAL GAME VS. DODGERS