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Mike Rizzo takes blame for underperforming Nationals, says he still believes in Martinez

Mike Rizzo takes blame for underperforming Nationals, says he still believes in Martinez

Mike Rizzo took responsibility for the Nationals' struggles in an interview with The Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning, telling the hosts that no one was more disappointed in the team's performance than he is.

"First and foremost, there’s nobody more upset, and disappointed and frustrated with this season than I am," Rizzo said.

"Our defense has been as bad as I've seen it since I've come to Washington," he added later.

Rizzo's call dropped shortly after the start of the interview and the Junkies had a moment to discuss Rizzo's blunt honesty after his first response.

"That was pretty hard," Eric "EB" Bickel said. "He was going hard on 'em."

"I mean, he's frustrated, can you blame him?" John "Cakes" Auville said. "Of course he's frustrated."

After Rizzo got reconnected with the Junks, he harped some more on the "underperforming" defense.

"There's been a collective underperformance in a lot of different areas," Rizzo said.

He then changed his frustration into optimism, vowing that the Nationals could, and should, be able to turn it around.

"I'm not going to stop believing in this team," he said.

Rizzo said he knows a change needs to be made following Tuesday night's frustrating 6-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, which dropped the Nats seven games below .500 for the first time since 2011.

"There's blame to go around when you’re playing this poorly," he said. "There's blame on me, there's blame on the players, there's blame on the coaches, there's blame on everybody, certainly there's enough to go around."

Lurch followed up by saying a lot of callers, "80 percent" as he estimated, want to see a change at manager. 

"I think Davey [Martinez] has great control of the clubhouse," Rizzo said. "I think the players play hard for him."

The frustration has been mounting with the Lerner family as well, the majority owners of the Nationals. Rizzo has had to keep the communication open and honest with them in order to keep tempers at bay.

"We're complete partners in this," Rizzo said. "They're upset just like you are and I am and everyone else is and the players are."

Going forward, Rizzo said the Nationals' front office all has the same goal: to bring a championship to D.C.

"Our goal, their goal, my goal is to win a championship for Washington D.C. area and we never waver on that mile marker, on that goal," he said.

The Nationals hope to avoid the sweep by the Brewers with a 1:10 p.m. first pitch Wednesday before heading West to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers Thursday.


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Carter Kieboom is now focused on keeping his job

Carter Kieboom is now focused on keeping his job

Carter Kieboom was back in a batter’s box Wednesday to face Max Scherzer. He faced him once before, back at spring training in 2017, and struck out. How did it go Wednesday?

“Same outcome,” Kieboom said with a smile.

He’s able to laugh in the moment as the Major League Baseball season resumes. Kieboom is the starting third baseman for the defending World Series champions. Being granted the position is the first step in the 22-year-old’s full-time work in Major League Baseball. He was an injury replacement at shortstop for an 11-game spell last season. This year, he’s mandated with taking over the spot vacated when a 2019 MVP finalist moved on.

In spring training, the third base job was part of a competition between Kieboom and Asdrúbal Cabrera. Martinez gave the job to Kieboom to start “Summer Camp.” When he received the news, Kieboom had a singular thought: “Keep the job.”


To do so, all aspects of his game at the major-league level need to improve. That, of course, is a general expectation of anyone entering their first starting position in the big leagues. Kieboom’s small, bumpy, sample size of work from last season will either end up harbinger or outlier. The Nationals suspect it’s the latter.

Primary among his development is his defense. In particular, his footwork at third base. Kieboom practiced individually at home from mid-March, when spring training ended, until work in Washington resumed this week. His preference would have been to be playing actual games, but he thinks the time to relentlessly drill could end up being beneficial.


"I totally agree with that,” Kieboom said. “I think it's very easy to kind of throw the towel in and get frustrated that you're so close to a season and it all gets washed away the way it did. It kind of was a blessing in disguise because I found some things I was doing in spring training I didn't really care for from the offensive side and the defensive side. I can continue to work on those. Footwork, I have to keep working on my footwork. It bought me some more time to keep working on that, hone that craft. And offensively the same thing, I got to make some adjustments and kind of go back to the drawing board at home and work on those things."

His time now is limited. The season is two weeks away. The Nationals lost their Monday workout window. They were able to face live pitching Wednesday. Thursday will be a quiet day. Friday will resume full workouts. Next Monday, practices will shift to the evenings, one more small step toward emulating the rapidly-approaching season.

Then, eventually on July 23, Carter Kieboom will be standing at third base.

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Trea Turner calls 2020 MLB season a 'fluid situation' but never considered sitting out

Trea Turner calls 2020 MLB season a 'fluid situation' but never considered sitting out

WASHINGTON -- Trea Turner was clad in his cold-weather gear despite the temperature creeping toward 90 degrees. He often starts the season in the Spider-Man style getup, hood tight to his head and up over his mouth and ears. It’s typically used as protection from the chill of Opening Day. Turner does not like the cold.

Wearing it Tuesday was more of a test and sign. Players are not mandated to wear masks on the field. Some do, some do not. Turner said he probably won’t wear the ensemble during the season, but was checking on it during what resembled the team’s first full practice of Summer Camp. That was the test. Seeing him in the gear was a sign of how much players are feeling out the first portions of Major League Baseball’s reboot.

"For me I try to be positive,” Turner said. “There's gonna be bumps in the road and I've always said, control what you can control. We've got a great medical staff in place and what they say goes. They're looking out for our best interests and I trust them. ...But we're gonna have a little bit of hiccups along the way. As long as everyone stays safe and abides by rules I think we can get through a lot of it. Hopefully testing gets turned around a little quicker and they work those things out, because I think that's very important, maybe the most important thing, is to find out those results as quickly as possible.”


Turner spent the time between baseball’s initial shutdown and its attempted return at his house in Florida with his wife, Kristen Harabedian. He, like everyone else, had the option not to play this year if he felt unsafe. He never considered it.

“I always was leaning toward playing,” Turner said. “But that's a fluid question. You know, if it's going bad, you obviously can take all things into consideration and whatnot. But I think if we continue to do what we've done so far in these first three days then it's been the right decision, at least for me, to play.”


Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross, two players Turner has now been around for years, chose not to play.

“Everyone's got their own situation,” Turner said. “They've got families. They come from different backgrounds. We'll support each and everybody in their decision whether to play or not to play. Those are guys I have a lot of respect for and I'm happy for them.

“It's a hard decision. It's not easy to choose to play or to not play, because you don't know what somebody's dealing with, you don't know if they're dealing with something, their family's dealing with something, somebody close to them's dealing with someone, whatever it may be. That's their decision and you've gotta support them in it. I hope those guys are staying safe. We're gonna miss them and hopefully we can play some games, because that's what a lot of us are looking forward to."

The Nationals’ trial run into all of this continued Wednesday with their fifth workout. They are 10 days from their first exhibition game and 15 days from hosting the New York Yankees on national TV to start the season -- if everyone makes it there. As Turner said, everything is a fluid situation, from masks to who will play. And, his voice is now becoming more of a factor: Turner will be the longest-tenured Nationals position player on the field for the first pitch of 2020.

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