Nationals

Indians interview Sandy Alomar Jr. to be manager

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Indians interview Sandy Alomar Jr. to be manager

CLEVELAND (AP) Over more than two decades, Sandy Alomar Jr. has been an All-Star player, coach and interim manager for the Cleveland Indians.

On Thursday, he was something new: an applicant.

Alomar, who guided Cleveland in its final six games after Manny Acta was fired last week, interviewed to become the Indians' next full-time manager. Alomar spent most of the day in meetings with owner Paul Dolan, general manager Chris Antonetti and other front office members at Progressive Field, a place he knows well after playing 11 seasons with Cleveland.

Alomar and former Phillies and Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who will interview with the club on Friday, head the list of possible replacements for Acta.

Antonetti was impressed with the job Alomar did in his short stint replacing Acta, who was dismissed after Cleveland collapsed in the second half of the season.

``As expected, Sandy did a great job,'' Antonetti said. ``There was a lot to work through especially for someone who does not have that extensive managing experience so he was doing a lot of things for the first time. But he did an exceptional job in how he went about preparing for it, reaching out to coaches, how he communicated with players and putting himself and the team in a position to succeed.

``In a short time he did a good job.''

The Indians went 3-3 under Alomar, a six-time All-Star catcher with Cleveland who served as Acta's bench coach this season. Alomar has not managed at any level but previously interviewed with the Chicago Cubs, Boston and Toronto. Antonetti feels the 46-year-old Alomar has paid his dues and is prepared to lead a major league club.

``I fully expect that he's ready to do the job and be successful at it,'' Antonetti said.

Antonetti did not put a timeline on naming a new manager, and said the team would not rush into an important decision following a disappointing season which ended with a 68-94 record and fourth-place finish.

Antonetti said during the interview with Alomar there were discussions on his vision for the ballclub, ability to lead, communication skills and relationships on the club.

``What we are looking for is someone to lead this group of 25 guys,'' Antonetti said. ``We're looking for someone who has the ability to motivate a group of guys to achieve and perform at their best. A lot goes into that, a winning environment, a winning culture as well as helping players develop and reach their potential.''

Alomar would seem to be an ideal fit. He knows Cleveland's roster already and enjoyed a good rapport with many of the Indians' players. Antonetti said several players made it clear during their exit interviews that they would be happy to play for Alomar.

``I can tell you that Sandy is held in very high regard among our players,'' he said.

Before the season finale, pitcher Justin Masterson said Alomar would be a great choice to take over the Indians, who were within 3 1-2 games of first place on July 27 before losing 11 straight games and fading from contention.

``I like Sandy a lot,'' Masterson said. ``Everybody in this clubhouse respects him.''

Alomar also has the support of Cleveland fans, some of whom chanted ``San-dy, San-dy'' after he came out of the dugout to argue a call earlier this week.

Although Alomar would appear to be the frontrunner because of his close ties to the team, Antonetti said there isn't a favorite.

``I wouldn't give anyone a leg up in the process,'' he said. ``We feel good about the two initial candidates that we have identified.''

Not long after Acta was fired, Antonetti called Francona, who has spent the past year working as a TV analyst. Francona, who previously worked as an adviser in Cleveland's front office and has remained close with Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro, told the Indians he was ``excited to get back on the field.''

Francona led Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. He was fired after the 2011 season, when the Red Sox fell apart down the stretch.

Last week, Francona told the AP he would welcome the chance to work again with Antonetti and Shapiro.

``It's great to hear,'' Antonetti said. ``We have always had a great deal of respect for Terry. We had an opportunity to work together for a little over a year and stayed in close touch with him throughout the last decade. It was great to hear that he was interested, and I'm very confident with he and Sandy leading and starting this process that we will emerge from it with a great leader.''

Francona reportedly makes $1.7 million in his job with ESPN. Antonetti said economics would not impact any decision on hiring a new manager.

``We will go with the best person that we think fits best for the job,'' he said.

Antonetti touched upon a wide-range of topics during an informal one-hour meeting with reporters. Among the top items were:

- The Indians' August meltdown. Antonetti said the team is still trying to determine what went wrong during a 5-24 month, the worst in franchise history.

``I don't think there's any one sole reason,'' he said. ``We've asked a lot of people that question trying to get a lot of different feedback and a number of different perspectives on it. The one thing we all feel is that we have better talent than our record shows.''

- Antonetti met for more than an hour with outspoken closer Chris Perez, whose comments throughout the season angered opponents, fans and some of his teammates.

``It comes from a good place with Chris,'' Antonetti said. ``He's an extremely competitive guy that badly wants to be a contributor to a winning team. That's where it's coming from. I wish he would communicate his words differently and how he communicates those messages, but the root from where he's coming from is a deep-seated belief that he wants to be a part of a winning team.''

- Antonetti said it's possible outfielder Grady Sizemore and designated hitter Travis Hafner could return to the club ``but the level of investment would be very different than it was in the past.'' Sizemore missed all season with injuries and Hafner was limited to 66 games.

- No decisions have been made on club options for pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez or Roberto Hernandez.

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Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

NEW YORK -- Normal is not something the Nationals do this season.

Monday’s pivot from the mundane -- an otherwise run-of-the-mill 5-3 baseball game -- came when Adam Eaton was jogging toward the visitors dugout in the bottom of the third inning when he stopped to respond to New York third baseman Todd Frazier, whom Eaton said was chirping at him all night.

This is not new. The two were teammates on the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and did not get along. Last year, Frazier and Eaton also had an exchange. The one Monday night at Citi Field prompted several members of the Nationals to hop over the dugout railing while Frazier and Eaton were being restrained near the first base bag. First base umpire Mike Estabrook cutoff Eaton who was walking toward Frazier after initially heading to the dugout following a 4-6-3 double play which ended the inning for the Nationals. When Frazier came toward the Mets dugout from his position at third base, the two began their spat.

Afterward, Frazier declined to comment in the Mets’ clubhouse, saying only, “It was nothing.” Eaton took the opportunity to expound on his displeasure with the incident, its continuation and Frazier himself.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Eaton said. “Gosh, who knows what goes through that guy’s mind? He’s chirping all the way across the infield. He must really like me, [because] he wants to get my attention it seems like every time we come into town, he really cares what I think about him. I don’t know what his deal is, if he wants to talk to me in person or have a visit or what it is. But he’s always yelling across the infield at me, making a habit of it.

“He’s one of those guys who always says it loud enough that you hear it but can’t understand it. So, he’s making a habit of it. I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point. So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

Asked if he is surprised such exchanges are still happening three years after they played together, Eaton said he was.

“Yes, absolutely,” Eaton said. “He’s very childish. I’m walking with my head down, play’s over, I’m walking away. I can still hear him. I’m a 30-year-old man with two kids, got a mortgage and everything. He wants to loud talk as he’s running off the field. At the end of the day, I got to be a man about it. I tried to stay patient with the childishness, but it is what it is. I got to stand up eventually.”

He did, and what could have been merely Game 47 for a struggling team turned out to be something else.

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 5-3, Monday to drop their record to 19-28. Here are five observations from the game…

1. A wondrous, very Mets day preceded the game.

Their general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, held a press conference to announce...Yoenis Cespedes -- already out because of dual heel surgeries -- suffered multiple ankle fractures during a ranch accident over the weekend. Van Wagenen then went on to profess his support for maligned New York manager Mickey Callaway -- for the most part. Last, and most important to writers, three boxes of donuts were in the press box with a note: “Have a great series! -- BVW”.

Things are always a little different in Flushing. That was a problem for the Nationals.

In what could be labeled a “reverse-lock” situation, Washington’s $140 million starter, Patrick Corbin, was outpitched by unknown and often ineffective Wilmer Font, whom the Nationals smacked around just five days ago. The Nationals, as they often do, dragged themselves back into the game after trailing 4-0. A Juan Soto single drove in Anthony Rendon in the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3. Rendon was on base four times.

And, again, it was just enough to produce a close loss. Washington put two runners on with none out against dynamic New York closer Edwin Diaz before Kurt Suzuki flew out, Trea Turner grounded into a fielder's choice and Adam Eaton flew out.

The Nationals drop to nine games under .500 following one-run and two-run defeats. They also fell to 2-14 in series openers.

2. A rough, short evening for Corbin.

He trudged through the night on 98 pitches. Corbin lasted just five innings. He walked three, gave up four earned runs, struck out seven.

His night was a mess early. Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered in the first inning. Two walks in the third -- one with two outs -- led to two more runs scoring. He zipped through the fourth and fifth before being removed.

Corbin has endured two blowups this season in an otherwise quality first two months: Monday and April 29 against St. Louis. The latter outing featured four walks and a homer allowed against one of the league’s better offenses. Monday’s bad outing came against a Mets lineup which did not feature Robinson Cano to start and entered the evening 21st in wOBA.

Bad timing. Bad night.

3. Tanner Rainey made his Nationals debut Monday. He was interesting.

Rainey gave up a hustle double to pinch-hitter Cano -- yes, hustle and Cano -- but otherwise showed a sharp fastball-slider combination.

Rainey was the return for Tanner Roark in the offseason trade that sent Roark to Cincinnati during the Winter Meetings.

He has command trouble. He also throws 98-100 mph with ease. Asked in spring training where that velocity comes from, Rainey said his legs and weight lifting. No secret sauce. He lifted more, he threw harder. And he subsequently repeated the process.

Rainey’s velocity will always intrigue. The question is if he can command his two-pitch arsenal enough to become an actual bullpen weapon. The baseline tools are there.

4. A shuffle in the relief corps is coming.

Tony Sipp (oblique) was activated from the 10-day injured list Monday. Dan Jennings was designated for assignment. That experiment is over. Jennings signed a minor-league contract April 15. He was in the majors April 30. He’s gone less than a month later. He did not pitch well.

The Nationals claimed right-handed Javy Guerra off waivers Monday. Guerra was designated for assignment by Toronto. Guerra pitched 14 innings for the Blue Jays this season, with a 3.86 ERA and 3.17 FIP. In other words, distinctly better than most in the Nationals bullpen.

Washington expects Guerra to arrive in New York on Tuesday. Kyle McGowin is likely to be sent back to Triple-A Fresno to make room. So, two fresh pitchers in the bullpen early in the week.

Trevor Rosenthal should also be back shortly. He is expected to throw an inning for Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday. Rainey will likely be sent back to the minor leagues to make room there.

And, a situation in West Palm Beach, Fla., to keep an eye on: reliever Austen Williams had to be shut down to allow his shoulder to rest. Williams threw 40 pitches at the spring training facility the first week of May, when he appeared on his way back from the 10-day injured list. However, he has stopped throwing after experiencing further shoulder soreness. He was placed on the injured list April 19 because of a sprained right AC joint.

5. Matt Adams worked with the team on the field Monday, which he expects to do the next two days.

He’s on the verge of being activated before the week is out.

“I watched him [Monday] and he took some really good swings,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he feels [Tuesday]. I’m assuming that he might be a little sore, because he did take some swings and he’s going to continue to do baseball activities [Monday]. But we’ll see how he feels.”

Adams’ 15-day absence has handcuffed Martinez in multiple ways. Take Sunday. Right-handed slider-thrower Steve Cishek on the mound. Left-handed hitters’ OPS against Cishek is 143 points higher than right-handers. But, no Adams meant no left-handed pinch-hitter.

Those issues should be over soon.

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