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Nats plan to use Wang out of bullpen

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Nats plan to use Wang out of bullpen

Chien-Ming Wang will likely pitch out of the Nationals' bullpen once he comes off the disabled list next week, manager Davey Johnson said today.

Johnson's decision to use Wang as a reliever comes as a surprise, given the manner in which the Nationals have talked up the veteran right-hander and suggested all along he would not be a good fit in the bullpen.

The emergence of left-hander Ross Detwiler, though, all but forced the Nationals into making this unconventional move. Detwiler, who makes his eighth start of the season tonight against the Orioles, is 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA.

"Detwiler has pitched himself into a role as one of the main guys, not only this year but for the future here," Johnson said. "Everybody says it's a good problem to have, but probably not for the questions I'm going to get asked in this room. Because there's no easy choice."

Wang, who re-signed with the Nationals as a free agent in November for 4 million, was a projected member of the Opening Day rotation until he pulled his hamstring trying to make a play at first base in mid-March. He's been on the DL since, but his 30-day minor-league rehab assignment must end by May 27.

Wang is scheduled to start tonight for Class AAA Syracuse at Toledo, his fifth rehab appearance. Johnson said he'll make one more start before coming off the DL and then taking over a long relief role with the Nationals.

"When he comes up, I will probably start him in the bullpen," the manager said. "That's probably the easiest no-decision. But I don't look at him as a reliever. I look at him as a quality, major-league starter."

The Nationals will take some precautions with Wang, using him on more of a starter's schedule and giving him extra time to warm up before entering games.

During a brief stop at Nationals Park earlier this week, the 32-year-old suggested he would be open to pitching out of the bullpen. He's made five career relief appearances, all with the Yankees, and admits it wouldn't be the easiest transition.

"It might be a question," Wang said through interpreter John Hsu. "But I would like to try, and I would like to help."

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

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USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

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Nationals bats get hot, but not enough vs. Blue Jays

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Nationals bats get hot, but not enough vs. Blue Jays

TORONTO — Washington Nationals reliever Ryan Madson had spent the past couple of weeks thinking about how long he'd gone between giving up home runs.

He won't have to wonder about it any more after the Toronto Blue Jays burned him with back-to-back blasts.

Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte broke a tie with consecutive home runs in the eighth inning, Randal Grichuk added a pair of solo shots and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Washington Nationals 8-6 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez and Solarte connected off Madson (1-3) as the Blue Jays won their seventh consecutive home game. Hernandez hit his 12th home run while Solarte's was his team-leading 15th.

"Everybody knows Madson is one of the best relievers in the league," Hernandez said. "We made some adjustments, took good swings, and hit it hard."

Madson last gave up a home run on June 4, 2017, while pitching for Oakland against Washington, when Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run shot.

"I've been thinking about it a little bit because it seemed like it had been a while," Madson said of his year-plus streak. "It's kind of been on my mind for the last couple of weeks."

Madson, who allowed two home runs in all of 2017, blamed poor fastball command for his rough outing.

"I envisioned the inning going a lot different than that, obviously," he said. "The stuff was good but no command of it."

Hernandez went 3 for 4 and was hit by a pitch, reaching bases four times.

Grichuk went 3 for 3 with a bases-loaded walk. He homered off Tanner Roark in the second and went deep again off Shawn Kelley in the fifth. The homers were the sixth and seven of the season for Grichuk, five of which have come in June.

Kevin Pillar and Kendrys Morales each had two hits and an RBI for the Blue Jays, who are 6-2 in interleague play this season.

"Every game we win means a lot," Hernandez said. "We're just trying to get closer to the fight for first and second (wild card) spots."

Washington has lost five of six.

"You never want to get swept but I'm glad we swung the bats today," manager Dave Martinez said. "We haven't been swinging very well. I'll take our chances very time we score six runs."

Grichuk snapped a 5-5 tie with an RBI single off Justin Miller in the seventh but the Nationals answered in the eighth with Brian Goodwin's RBI single off Toronto's Tyler Clippard.

Ryan Tepera (4-2) pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for the win.

Slumping Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper started as the designated hitter and went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .217.

Harper, who has seven hits in his past 51 at bats, flied out to leave the bases loaded against Tepera in the eighth.

Neither starter lasted more than four innings. Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio allowed three runs and six hits while Roark allowed four runs and eight hits.

"I stunk today," Roark said.

THIEVERY

Toronto allowed a season-worst five stolen bases, four of them by Michael A. Taylor. The five steals matched Washington's season-high.

CATCH WITH DAD

On Father's Day, the sons and daughters of several Blue Jays tossed ceremonial first pitches to their dads, a group that included Solarte, Pillar, Morales, Aledmys Diaz and pitchers J.A Happ and John Axford.

FATHERHOOD

Gaviglio left before the game was over to fly home to Washington state after learning his wife had gone into labor with the couple's first child.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Matt Adams (left hand) was out of the lineup for a second straight day. Adams was hit by a pitch while attempting to bunt Friday. Daniel Muprhy made his second straight start at first.

Blue Jays: OF Steve Pearce (strained left oblique) went 2 for 2 with a walk in his second rehab game at Triple-A Buffalo. Pearce went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk Saturday.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Washington returns home Monday to face the New York Yankees. The teams will resume a May 15 game that was suspended with the score tied 3-3 in the middle of the sixth inning. Following the completion of that game, the Nationals and Yankees will make up a May 16 game that was postponed by rain. RHP Erick Fedde (0-1, 5.91) will start the nine-inning game. The Yankees have not named a starter.

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