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Nats fume at Simmons for injuring Escobar


Nats fume at Simmons for injuring Escobar

Updated at 12:30 a.m.

ATLANTA — Yunel Escobar is expected to miss a day or two after his left hand was cut in multiple places on a late, hard slide by Andrelton Simmons during Tuesday night’s game that left several Nationals teammates fuming over what they perceived as a dirty play by the Braves shortstop.

“That kid’s a good player,” Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said of Simmons. “He plays with a lot of energy. But he’s got to be way smarter than that. That was ugly. It looked ugly. I’m sure when he goes back and looks at it, hopefully he learns from it.”

“Andrelton plays with a lot of energy and is a good player, but that’s a B.S. slide,” right fielder Bryce Harper added. “That’s something you don’t do. It’s just not smart. If he goes and looks back at it, he might see that it wasn’t a good idea.”

The play in question occurred during the bottom of the fifth inning of what wound up an 8-4 Braves victory at Turner Field. With Simmons on first base, Nationals starter Doug Fister uncorked a wayward pickoff attempt that rolled all the way to the tarp stationed along the right-field stands. Second baseman Danny Espinosa retrieved the ball and fired a one-hop throw to third, where Escobar was waiting and had Simmons out by two steps.

Simmons, though, came in hard and late, and his right foot slammed into Escobar’s glove, knocking it and the ball away and leaving his hand bloody. In obvious pain, Escobar was escorted off the field by assistant trainer Steve Gober, unable to finish the game.

“It just happens in the game sometimes,” Escobar said through interpreter Nilson Robledo, adding he expects to miss one or two days while his hand heals.

Escobar and Nationals manager Matt Williams wouldn’t directly give their opinion on Simmons’ slide, but several others in the clubhouse didn’t hesitate to criticize their opponent. And on the field, they appeared to try to exact some revenge when rookie reliever Rafael Martin’s first pitch in the bottom of the seventh got a piece of Simmons in the back before scooting to the backstop.

Atlanta outfielder Jonny Gomes, who came out of the dugout to argue, was ejected after the plunking. Martin and both dugouts were given warnings by plate umpire Bill Welke.

“I don’t even want to get into it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters after the game. “I thought Simmons, he just slid a little late into third base, that’s all. We all know and have seen him play, and sometimes he can slide a little crazy. There was nothing malicious about it. I’m surprised, really, with how they reacted. But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.”

“I was just going hard and trying to go right for the bag,” Simmons told reporters. “It’s bad that somebody got hurt. Hopefully it’s not that bad, but I was just trying to play hard.”

This is the third injury Escobar has suffered since joining the Nationals over the winter. He strained an oblique muscle during spring training and missed three weeks. He also missed two games earlier this month with a mild groin strain.

The Nationals had no choice but to play Espinosa at third base and Dan Uggla at second base when Escobar was out with the groin injury, and they’ll likely need to do the same if he can’t play Tuesday or Wednesday, barring the promotion of another infielder from their farm system.

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The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

On Monday, in the middle of their game with the Yankees, Mike Rizzo did a very Mike Rizzo thing and added another strong arm to the Nationals' bullpen well before the trade deadline.

In a trade with the Kansas City Royals, the Nats dealt prospects Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera, who's in his eighth season, has walked only two batters in the last 27 games and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

"We just thought that it was a good idea to strike early," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"We thought the closer to the deadline we get, the more competition we'll have for Kelvin [Herrera]. We were able to strike a deal with Dayton Moore quickly and [we] couldn't be happier about it."

But Mike Rizzo didn't just come across Herrera by chance, he's had his sights on him for years.

"He was one of the guys that we kind of kicked the tires on [last year] and obviously the price for Kelvin at that time with a year and a half of control was a lot different than it was with four and a half months of control."

"We did have our eyes on him for years. He's been a great reliever for years. He's one of the guys we talked about when we talked about improving our bullpen." 

Herrera has spent all of his eight seasons in the big leagues with the Royals, even winning a World Series. Trades can bring both joy and angst, but Rizzo knows Herrera is excited to get back to playing meaningful baseball.

"This guy is such a competitor; World Series tested and playoff tested. He's happy to be playing meaningful games. He talked about what it takes to win a World Series, and you know, our guys were all ears. I think he's really thankful for getting the opportunity to get after it again and get another ring."

"At the same time, you know, it's hard for those old relationship to die and to move on, but he was very excited about being with us. I spoke to him after we made the trade and he [was] a little shocked, but really fired up about it. And when he got to the clubhouse, [he] met some of his old teammates - Timmy Collins and Ryan Madson -  and was welcome with open arms by not only the bullpen guys but everyone on the team." 

Herrera will join Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, and Ryan Madson to make about as deep of a bullpen as any in baseball right now.


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Trea Turner goes 4 for 4 to help Nationals beat Orioles


Trea Turner goes 4 for 4 to help Nationals beat Orioles

WASHINGTON -- Presented with identical opportunities to ring up a big inning, the Washington Nationals took full advantage and Baltimore Orioles squandered the chance.

That goes a long way toward explaining why the Nationals are a contender and the Orioles own the worst record in the big leagues.

Trea Turner went 4 for 4 with a homer , Anthony Rendon drove in three runs and Washington extended its recent domination of the Orioles with a 9-7 victory Tuesday night.

The game was essentially decided in the fifth inning, which began with Baltimore leading 4-1.

In the top half, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs and scored only one run -- when Manny Machado hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Washington loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half and batted around, scoring four runs on four hits and a pair of walks. Adam Eaton contributed a two-run single, Rendon hit a sacrifice fly and Bryce Harper chased starter David Hess with an RBI double.

"They did a lot better job cashing in their bases loaded, nobody out situation than we did," Orioles manager Buck Showalter conceded.

For the game, Baltimore was 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. The Nationals were 5 for 10.

"This team is starting to become relentless," manager Dave Martinez said. "They kept pounding and pounding and pounding, had a couple of big innings there and scored some runs."

The Nationals trailed 6-5 before getting six hits in a four-run seventh. Rendon delivered a two-run double off Tanner Scott (0-1) that made it 7-6, and Turner capped his four-hit night with a double.

Both teams noted that more than a couple of Washington's hits were bloopers and seeing-eye grounders, but the Nationals certainly weren't about to apologize.

"I feel like all year we've been hitting balls right at people," Turner said, "so it's nice to get a bunch of those in one game and come out with a win."

Washington has won six straight over its neighboring interleague rival, including four games this season by a combined 20-8.

Pitching in his second big league game, Nationals starter Jefry Rodriguez gave up five runs, four hits and four walks in five innings.

Justin Miller (5-0) pitched two innings of relief, newcomer Kelvin Herrera worked a perfect eighth and Sean Doolittle gave up a solo home run to Joey Rickard while earning his 19th save.

Jace Peterson and Trey Mancini each hit two-run homers for the Orioles, who have lost 16 of 19.

This one can be blamed on an all-too-telling fifth inning.

"It's just one of those things where if they got hits they seemed to have found holes," Showalter said. "They hit some balls hard, too."