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Nats willing to spend to get even better

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Nats willing to spend to get even better

The Nationals have won four straight and have the best record in the National League at 48-32. The offense is starting to come around and they look like one of the league's most balanced teams heading into the All-Star Break. Their chances to contend are good and Nationals' owner Mark Lerner says he will do anything to preserve their shot at the ultimate goal of a World Series.

Lerner told FoxSports.com's J.P. Morosi that money is no object in the quest for a championship.
Weve never let dollars get in the way of us making decisions that will help this organization," he said."That will always be our philosophy. We dont look at it like a 100 million benchmark, or 90 million, or 120 million. We try to do smart things. Theres never been a question of this organization spending money. It was when to spend it. You dont spend it when you have 59 wins."

The Nationals have the league's 20th highest payroll at about 81.4 million. They are also winning despite the absence of Jayson Werth and his 13 million salary.

The Nats have money to spend relative to their peers and while they weren't active in last year's free agency period, it could mean they will make calls at the July 31 trade deadline. Their ace Stephen Strasburg, after all, is expected to be shut down in early September. They could look to rent a starter for the pennant race or add offense to a lineup that has struggled at times this year. But whatever happens later this month, Nats fans can feel assured that their baseball team will do anything to sustain their newfound success.

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Ryan Zimmerman’s ailing foot returns him to the injured list

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USA Today

Ryan Zimmerman’s ailing foot returns him to the injured list

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman is on the injured list. Again.

Zimmerman was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, which also caused him to be on the injured list earlier this season from April 28 to June 27.

Outfielder Andrew Stevenson was called up to take Zimmerman’s spot on the roster. In a separate move, veteran reliever Michael Blazek was summoned from Triple-A Fresno on Monday. Reliever Kyle McGowin was sent to Double-A Harrisburg.

Zimmerman, who turns 35 years old Sept. 28, has played just 33 games this season. He played 85 games last season. The Nationals are hopeful this “partial rupture” could go away quickly. The bigger picture view is what this means for Zimmerman next year.

The team holds an $18 million option on him. It will be declined. Zimmerman knew at the beginning of the season his health would be key to every aspect of his future, If he was healthy, he thought he could still play well. He hit .333 in July, proving that idea to be true. But, he has not remained healthy.

From the start of the year, the Nationals and Zimmerman have said they hope to work something out if the contract option is not picked up. Zimmerman joined the organization in 2005. He doesn’t seem inclined to go elsewhere. 

An oblique injury stalled Zimmerman last year. This year, his foot won’t cooperate. Zimmerman could come off the injured list Aug. 1. If he does, and plays every game the rest of the season, he would max out at 87 games played. He would be provided days off when he returns, so Zimmerman is almost assured of playing fewer games this season than last.

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Nationals' ace Max Scherzer on the cusp of a return

Nationals' ace Max Scherzer on the cusp of a return

WASHINGTON -- Everything looked normal Monday: Max Scherzer in full uniform went to right field for his warmup throws, then walked into the Nationals’ bullpen for a full pitching session. He briefly lingered to talk it over with the regular denizens of the bullpen before exiting through the back entrance and looping back to the clubhouse.

It went well. He feels good. The expectation is he will start a game “at the end of the week,” according to Davey Martinez. Scherzer declined to put a projection forth. He’s just pleased to feel well. 

“I’m getting through the ball,” Scherzer said. “I feel great. I feel 100 percent. The ball is coming out 100 percent. It’s just a matter of making sure I got all of the feel for all the executions.”

Per usual, The Next Day is at issue. Scherzer expects no problems because he threw from a mound Saturday and felt “nothing” Sunday. If he comes in Tuesday feeling good, everything should be set for possibly Thursday to return and wrap a four-game series with Colorado. 

Scherzer thought he could pitch Sunday in Atlanta. He suggested as much to Martinez and others. Mike Rizzo, Martinez and team medical staff told him no.  

“[I asked], but it wouldn’t have been smart,” Scherzer said. “You need to see me off the mound. Can’t take that chance. I always want to pitch. If this was Sept. 28, I think, yeah, they would have let me go. But when you have so much season left. You can’t take that risk. So...I get it. If I ever think I can pitch, I’m always going to want to pitch. That’s why the ball’s in the trainer’s court, the ball’s in Rizzo’s court, the ball’s in Dr. [Robin] West’s court. They have to make that call. They didn’t make that call. I completely get why.”

A cortisone shot received seven days ago has proven effective. As has advice from former teammate Shawn Kelley, who had the same injury -- inflammation of his bursa sac below his right scapula -- three days before Scherzer. They talked, the shot was recommended and it helped right on time.

Scherzer said he has an idea what caused the issue, but chose not to disclose it. Though, he was adamant it has nothing to do with his workload this season.

Despite not pitching since July 6, Scherzer still leads the National League in strikeouts. He remains a top-tier Cy Young candidate. He also is desperately needed by a Nationals team which suddenly has a bit of disarray percolating in their rotation.

Assuming Scherzer is ready to return, the Nationals need to sort out the fifth spot in their rotation. Erick Fedde was scheduled to pitch Monday before the game was postponed by Major League Baseball because of inclement weather a day after Joe Ross put together a reasonable start in Atlanta. Austin Voth (right biceps tendinitis) remains on the 10-day injured list and is building strength in his arm. He expected to throw Monday.

The next two days are mostly lined up: Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin will pitch. Fedde could pitch the 1:05 p.m. start of Wednesday's split day-night doubleheader. If Scherzer pitches Thursday, Anibal Sanchez would be bumped to Friday to open the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals could pitch Scherzer on Friday -- keeping Sanchez on turn -- and still have him to close the three-game series against Atlanta next week.

"[Tuesday] will be a big day,” Martinez said. “If Max comes in and says he has no issues, we’ll go from there.”

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