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Nationals fall to Phillies 17-3 after giving up 12-run first inning

Nationals fall to Phillies 17-3 after giving up 12-run first inning

PHILADELPHIA -- Howie Kendrick had a bases-loaded triple while Philadelphia scored 12 runs for the biggest first inning in team history, and the Phillies routed the Washington Nationals 17-3 on Saturday night.

Philadelphia piled up nine hits and four walks off Jeremy Guthrie (0-1) and Enny Romero in the first. The Phillies didn't hit any homers in the inning, but did have three doubles. Maikel Franco, Michael Saunders and Tommy Joseph each had two RBIs while Washington set a team mark for runs allowed in an inning.

Perhaps even more troubling for the Nationals, shortstop Trea Turner was lifted with an apparent leg injury after rounding third base in the first inning.

Kendrick had three hits and four RBIs for the game, Saunders had three hits and two RBIs and Cameron Rupp homered and drove in three.

Phillies starter Aaron Nola (1-0) pitched six solid innings, allowing three runs, seven hits and two walks while striking out seven. The right-hander was 1-5 with a 9.82 ERA in his final eight starts last season before being shut down with a right elbow strain in August. A rough spring training didn't ease concerns about the 2014 first-round pick, but Saturday's outing likely did.

Nola had plenty of room for error after Philadelphia nearly matched the franchise mark for runs in an inning, set with 13 in the fourth at Cincinnati in 2003. The Nationals' previous worst inning was a 10-spot by the Milwaukee Brewers on April 18, 2010.

Guthrie turned 38 on Saturday and was pitching in the majors for the first time since 2015. He was lifted after Odubel Herrera's RBI infield single made it 9-0. His final line wasn't pretty: 10 runs, six hits and four walks in two-thirds of an inning.

Andres Blanco also homered for Philadelphia, which snapped a seven-game home losing streak to the Nationals while winning for just the second time in the last 15 overall against Washington.

Saunders was a homer shy of the cycle.

Washington's Daniel Murphy continued his hot start with three hits and two doubles to raise his average to .524. He has at least two hits in all five games.

The Nats put their first two batters on base in the first, and then Murphy laced a one-out single to right, but third base coach Bob Henley held Turner to load the bases for Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman grounded sharply to third, and Franco made a strong play to step on the bag and fire to first base for a 5-3, inning-ending double play.


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Nationals' Howie Kendrick won’t be ready for Opening Day

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Nationals' Howie Kendrick won’t be ready for Opening Day

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- More sun is coming Howie Kendrick’s way.

The Nationals’ veteran right-handed bench bat is staying in Florida when the team breaks camp Sunday night. Kendrick’s hamstring strain has greatly improved. He’s just not going to be ready for Opening Day in Washington.

“I’m almost there,” Kendrick said. “I think we have quite a few spring days [to work] down here. So I’m not going to break with the team, obviously. I’m going to stay down here and try to get back as soon as possible. I’ve been running, running, running, but I’m not quite there yet.”

Kendrick expects to participate in multiple minor league games to start the week. He’s been running almost full speed in a straight line and lightly running the bases. He’s fielded ground balls, but limited his range while doing so. Kendrick has been swinging throughout.

“As far as the offensive side, I don’t think it’s really going to take long to get there,” Kendrick said. “Especially if I’m [in Florida], I can get at-bats every inning pretty much. I think the biggest thing is trying to feel good running and things like that. That’s what’s most important. The bat will come around. That’s just timing.

“I think the biggest thing is not wanting to have to go backwards. If I try to come back too soon – and I’ve done my hamstrings before, and I’ve been hard-headed about it where I’ve hurt it again later and you’re out more time. So I think the biggest thing is trying to feel great and really confident about where I’m at and trusting it a lot more. I trust it now, but I know I’m not 100 percent.”

Going to Washington but not as a starting pitcher is Jeremy Hellickson. He will be a long man out of the bullpen to start the season. Washington has three off days in the first eight days of the season. So, it doesn’t need a fifth starter until April 10 in Philadelphia to close the opening road series against the Phillies. 

“He’s had a really good spring training,” manager Davey Martinez said of Hellickson. “His stuff is really good. He added a little slider, which turned out to be pretty effective.”

The Nationals will open with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez as their rotation. That lines up Sanchez to pitch April 2 in Bryce Harper’s return to Nationals Park. Scherzer will pitch the April 3 day game which completes the quick two-game set with the Phillies. It also means the Nationals have Scherzer and Strasburg lined up to open a three-game series in Philadelphia the following week.


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Fresh round of cuts helps Nationals Opening Day roster take shape

Fresh round of cuts helps Nationals Opening Day roster take shape

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Opening Day roster became much clearer Saturday following a slew of player moves by the Nationals.

Right-handed pitcher Joe Ross was optioned to Triple-A Fresno. After consideration of using Ross in the bullpen, the organization decided to send him to Triple A and stretch him out there. Manager Davey Martinez said they view Ross as a starter now and in the future.

Catcher Spencer Kieboom and right-handed starter Erick Fedde will go to Double-A Harrisburg. This is the first instance of a decision based on the change in Triple-A affiliation. The Nationals switched from Syracuse to Fresno in the offseason -- a move they did not have complete control of. So, Kieboom and Fedde will go to Harrisburg in order to be readily available should something happen to a player on the 25-man roster during the opening homestand.

Prospect Carter Kieboom, right-handed starter Henderson Alvarez, right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett, right-handed reliever Scott Copeland and left-handed reliever Vidal Nuno have been reassigned to minor-league camp.

Carter Kieboom impressed at the plate throughout the spring. He continues to learn second base after sliding over from his traditional shortstop position. Barrett takes another step in his comeback following Tommy John surgery and a fractured elbow. Martinez said he thinks Barrett will help the parent club at some point this season.

Washington has three spring training games remaining. Patrick Corbin and Joe Ross pitch in split-squad games Sunday. Monday, the team is back in the District for its final game of the exhibition season. The season opener is Thursday, March 28.

This round of cuts drops the team’s options to 30 players. Koda Glover (forearm), Howie Kendrick (hamstring) and Michael A. Taylor (hip/knee) are unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. That trio appears heading for the injured list. Which leaves two bench spots among utility player Adrian Sanchez, outfielder Andrew Stevenson or first baseman, and out-of-nowhere minor-leaguer, Jake Noll until Taylor and Kendrick are ready. Two bullpen spots are available to Wander Suero, Justin Miller and Austen Williams in that alignment.

The Nationals could keep all three relievers for Opening Day. That would give them a bench of catcher Kurt Suzuki, utility player Wilmer Difo, first baseman Matt Adams, and likely Stevenson as the fourth outfielder.

Another wrinkle: reliever Kyle Barraclough, who has a 5.19 ERA and has allowed three home runs in 8 ⅔ innings, still has options. Sending him down would be a significant pivot after the organization often touted him as one of its featured relievers.

Last, multiple off-days to start the season play into this equation. If the Nationals choose a smaller bullpen group, it will have more time than usual to recover. What we know is these players are coming to play Thursday:

Starting pitchers:
Max Scherzer
Stephen Strasburg
Patrick Corbin (L)
Anibal Sanchez
Jeremy Hellickson

Tony Sipp (L)
Matt Grace (L)
Wander Suero
Trevor Rosenthal
Sean Doolittle (L)

Position players:
Yan Gomes (C)
Kurt Suzuki (C)
Ryan Zimmerman (1B)
Brian Dozier (2B)
Trea Turner (SS)
Anthony Rendon (3B)
Adam Eaton (RF)
Victor Robles (CF)
Juan Soto (LF)
Wilmer Difo (Utility)
Matt Adams (1B)

A few decisions remain to determine who will join them.