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For Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, the fix is in this offseason

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USA Today Sports Images

For Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, the fix is in this offseason

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Seven years before Sean Doolittle was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, Bob Vila was hired to host “This Old House” after receiving the "Heritage House of 1978" award by Better Homes and Gardens for his restoration of a Victorian Italianate house in Newton, Massachusetts. 

Vila’s beard and decade of helping homeowners through the never-ending projects that accompany house ownership earned him fame. He went on to be a spokesperson for Sears after leaving the show. His name is a punchline for anyone trying to mock a less-skilled home improver.

Perhaps, in the future, “Doolittle” will also be associated with fixing house issues. He’s going through the initial steps by doing work around his first house, which he recently purchased with his wife, Eireann Dolan, in Chicago near where she grew up.

The house was recently renovated. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, which has sent the Nationals’ All-Star closer down Internet rabbit holes in search of solutions for a variety of home remedies.

“Watching a lot of YouTube videos,” Doolittle said. “DIY projects and stuff like that.”

The splattered white across Doolittle’s black shoes Sunday proved his efforts to be authentic. He recently attempted to caulk the shower, an endeavor he claims was accomplished, but also had minor mishaps along the way.

“I ended up caulking some other stuff, too,” Doolittle said. “But I got it done. Shoes are more waterproof now.”

Doolittle’s career earnings cracked $10 million last season, seemingly affording him a chance to hire out for jobs. Instead, he claims an emotional investment in the house necessary. 

“It’s our first house,” Doolittle said. “You’ve got to have some skin in the game! You know? There’s some stuff you can figure out. Painting walls and hanging stuff. Putting furniture together and stuff like that. I can handle that now. I’m getting better.”

He stopped short of confirming he is “handy” Sunday at Nationals Winterfest. Doolittle also addressed his mixed-bag season. When on the mound in 2018, his 1.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts per nine represented the best work of his career. The foot injury that limited him to 43 games represented still-present frustration.

“I’m really happy with how I pitched when I was healthy,” Doolittle said. “But going into the season, my biggest goal was to pitch a full season, and I didn’t get to do that again. This was, I think, really the first time in my career that I had an extended stay for something that wasn’t an arm issue. So in a way that was good, but in a way it almost made it more frustrating. Then I couldn’t be out there because of something that was pretty random and I don’t really know why it cropped up in the first place. I was happy with how I pitched, but I still feel like I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish, because I wasn’t able to stay healthy for the full season.”

Doolittle said the foot is fine, as is the rest of his body, now. He expects to start throwing this week following a month of shoulder strengthening and arm care. The presence of new bullpen pieces Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough have him excited. Just don’t ask him to fix the drywall.

Yet.

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Andy Martino of SNY refutes the reports that the Nats are out on Harper

Andy Martino of SNY refutes the reports that the Nats are out on Harper

Despite Mark Lerner's comments to NBC Sports Washington that the team hasn't been in recent contact with Bryce Harper and has filled out the roster, SNY's Andy Martino says not to give up hope.


"Do not believe that the Nationals are out on Harper," Martino said. "People I talk to around the situation are saying don't rule the Nationals out until the moment that Harper signs elsewhere."


Martino believes that the clearest options may not be what they seem.


"The Phillies of course are pursuing him, but I continue to hear they have a tough road to get Harper to come to Philly," he said. "The Phillies are possible but I don’t know that I would call them frontrunners."

After the news of Manny Machado signing with the Padres, all eyes turn to Bryce Harper and how long this continues to drag out. 

The clock is ticking.

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How to watch NBC Sports Washington's full interview with Nationals owner Mark Lerner

How to watch NBC Sports Washington's full interview with Nationals owner Mark Lerner

When Nationals principal managing owner Mark Lerner  see his team lose, he has a postgame ritual that rivals one of the most ordinary passionate fan.

“ I go into a closet and scream a little after,” Lerner told NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas in an exclusive interview in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Friday. “No, no. That’s one thing that’s good about baseball. You’re going to play the next day. But I go home. I’m totally depressed. I won’t turn on the sports news or anything and get up the next morning, it’s a new day, get up and go after it again today. When I’m sitting down there, I’m very passionate as a fan. I’m yelling at the umpires like everybody else. I want to win. I hate losing exhibition games let alone regular-season games.”

Lerner also spoke about Bryce Harper's future - or lack thereof - with the team, Anthony Rendon and what he expects from the team this season.

The interview is now available in full on the MyTeams app, which can be downloaded here.

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