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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

Here are three things to watch for as the Nationals try to even the series in Colorado: 

1. Brian Dozier's slow start to 2019 seems to be in the rearview mirror. The second baseman hit his third long-ball in four games Monday night inside Coors Field. 

2. How long will Anthony Rendon be held out of the lineup? The third baseman is nursing his left elbow after being hit by a Jose Urena pitch Saturday in Miami. 

3. One of the MLB's best closers remains unsigned 20+ games into the season. Craig Kimbrel could very well help solve an NL East division-wide problem

Coming Up:

Tuesday, 4/23: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Wednesday, 4/24: Nationals @ Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Friday, 4/26: Padres @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

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Report: Braves to sign outfielder Yasiel Puig

Report: Braves to sign outfielder Yasiel Puig

The Atlanta Braves will sign outfielder Yasiel Puig, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Tuesday.

The terms of the contract have not yet been specified, but Puig will be joining Atlanta after sitting on the free-agent market into the middle of July. The Baltimore Orioles were also reportedly in on Puig, 29, having offered him at least one contract.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported that the signing was the result of a recent injury to Braves prospect Cristian Prache, who was vying for playing time after veteran outfielder Nick Markakis opted out of the 2020 MLB season.

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Though Prache's foot injury is not viewed as severe, Atlanta is making sure they are covered in case something happens to Prache or another member of the outfield. As it stands, Puig will join a talented depth chart that features the likes of Ronald Acuña Jr., Marcell Ozuna, Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall. With a lot of names and only 60 games, there's no guarantee that Puig will get much work.

However, he could be used as a designated hitter option in 2020 now that the position is universal. Puig has also shown that he can be a valuable asset when he's on his game. His 2019 season featured a .267 batting average with 24 home runs and 84 RBI, as he split time with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. In 49 games with Cleveland after being traded, Puig hit .297. In 2020, that is nearly a full season of work.

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Prior to 2019, Puig has had spurts of great success, hitting .319 in 104 games with the Dodgers as he finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2013. He also earned NL All-Star honors in 2014. Since then, Puig has been unable to recapture dominance at the plate, but he's continued to act as a steady presence in the lineup.

With a big arm and an even bigger personality, one thing is certain: the NL East just got a lot more interesting.

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Nationals' Yan Gomes hopes MLB umpires have their own section of the plane when flying with teams

Nationals' Yan Gomes hopes MLB umpires have their own section of the plane when flying with teams

With the start of the 2020 MLB season just nine days away, league officials are still considering a plethora of ideas for how to best ensure the safety of those involved in putting on games.

That includes the umpiring crews, who reportedly saw 11 umpires opt out of the season Tuesday in order to avoid the risk of contracting the coronavirus. According to Los Angeles Angels Joe Maddon, one of the measures MLB is considering is allowing umpires to fly with teams in order to limit the amount of travel and therefore possible exposure to the virus.

Nationals catcher Yan Gomes isn’t opposed to the idea, though he does recognize that there is some potential for a few awkward moments on the plane.

“I mean that could be a good thing from a safety standpoint and that could be a really weird and awkward deal if something happens in that game,” Gomes said. “I think we’re gonna have to be very cautious with that, putting them in one little section of the plane and hopefully not having to interact very much with players.

“That’s an interesting thing but if it’s something to keep everything safe from the game’s standpoint I think we can make that adjustment. I think everything [including] traveling and everything is going to be pretty unique this year and why not add umpires in there too?”

RELATED: CHANGES STILL HAPPENING MIDWAY THROUGH NATIONALS ‘SUMMER CAMP’

Without any umpires at Nationals Park for the first few weeks of training camp, Gomes and fellow backstop Kurt Suzuki have had to act as the team’s umpires during intrasquad games.

“It’s been super tough so I think I respect them even more,” Gomes said. “From my angle, I’m over here trying to frame balls and then I tend to forget what pitch it was. I don’t know. I haven’t had too many people complain but I think I’ve done an OK job and I think Kurt is a little tighter than I think I am.

“The first day, I made some tough calls for our own pitching staff and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m gonna give it at least a couple balls for these guys because I don’t want—the rollover innings are probably the toughest thing.’”

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An umpire crew will be reporting to D.C. in advance of their first exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday. There’s going to be no way for catchers and umpires to avoid breaking social distancing guidelines when they stand in front of each other once games begin, but even so, Gomes isn’t worried about it.

“There’s really no concern level,” Gomes said. “Everyone here is doing a really good job on the testing and everything. It’s really just a matter of everyone staying safe and not do those silly, try-to-joke-around touches. I think we’re just going to have to be careful with that.”

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