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Plenty of storylines from Nationals WinterFest 2015 Day 1

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Plenty of storylines from Nationals WinterFest 2015 Day 1

BY CHASE HUGHES AND J.J. REGAN

Here are the updates from Day 1 of Nationals WinterFest 2015...

2:55 p.m. — Hughes: Jayson Werth was the final player of the day to meet with the media and he touched on a wide range of topics. He said he was glad to see Bryce Harper win the MVP award, how he doesn't think the Harper and Papelbon situation will persist, even if Papelbon remains on the roster. He also told a great story about Barry Bonds when asked about the former superstar's return to baseball. Werth said he was on the Dodgers when they went to San Francisco in 2005 for a four-game series. Manager Jim Tracy gave the Dodgers specific instructions to not throw Bonds a strike the entire series. So, through the first two games he never saw a strike and drew several walks. He didn't play the third day, but in the fourth game he took the only strike he saw all series and splashed it into McCovey's Cove in right field. Werth said it was one of the most impressive things he has seen in baseball.

2:07 p.m. — Regan: Anthony Rendon struggled to get into a rhythm last season due to injuries and said like he felt he was playing catchup all year. He is excited about the move to third base, the position in which he feels most comfortable. He was also amazed by Dusty Baker's experience and history throughout the league, saying the new manager had a story for everyone and everything. Rendon is also very distraught at the state of his beloved Houston Rockets.

2:01 p.m. — Regan: The most important update from Danny Espinosa is that he currently has a beard again and intends to grow it out until picture day. With Ian Desmond's expected departure from the team in free agency, that leaves an opening at shortstop, an opening that Espinosa clearly hopes to fill. Espinosa cycled positions last year as a utility infielder, and while he stressed he will do anything to get more at bats, he also made clear that he sees himself as a shortstop and believes he can be the Nationals starter at that position this season. He also said he is 100 percent healthy with no lingering injury issues this offseason.

1:11 p.m. — Hughes: We have updates now from Max Scherzer, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Taylor as they keep bringing out players for rapid-fire interview sessions. Scherzer said he was happy for Jordan Zimmermann to get a deal with his former team, the Detroit Tigers. He is also very excited to play for Dusty Baker, whom he has heard great things about from current and former players. Scherzer also told us the backstory of his ESPN commercial, saying he was thrilled to work with Ken Jeong from The Hangover movies. Zimmerman said he is fully healthy and his golf swing looks better than ever. He dealt with several injuries last season, most notably plantar fasciitis. Zimmerman also commented on the Bryce Harper/Jonathan Papelbon situation, saying "it would have been weird" if nothing happened between teammates given their losing season. He said he did not condone the actions, but understands the frustration for both players. Taylor did not speak for long as he is known to do. But he did say he has met Baker and looks forward to playing for him.

12:34 p.m. — Regan: If there was one thing Stephen Strasburg wanted the media to take away from today, it's that he's not thinking about his pending free agency. All he would say was that he was focused on the now. When referencing his back surgery in which he had a non-cancerous growth removed, Strasburg said he would not use it as an excuse for this poor 2015 season. He also said he was happy for Jordan Zimmermann getting his new deal with Detroit and that he was excited for Giolito to join the team for spring training.

11:41 a.m. — Regan: According to Mike Rizzo, the Nationals will no longer pursue closer Aroldis Chapman following the domestic violence allegations he is now facing. Rizzo had nothing but good things to say about Jason Heyward who the team pursued until yesterday when it was learned he would be signing with the Chicago Cubs. He also stated that prized pitching prospect Lucas Giolito will be invited to spring training this year, his first with the major league club. Rizzo informed the media that the team has reached a deal with reliever Yusmeiro Petit, pending a physical. As for why Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen are not at WinterFest, well, according to Rizzo they both had prior commitments which prevented them from attending.

11:18 a.m. — Regan: Dusty Baker wins the fashion award for the day as he wore a shirt with tiny bicycles on it. Great look. Baker said he spoke with Matt Williams after he took the job to get a feel for the team and certain players. He says he stressed to Williams that he needed to get back onto the field and was pleased he got a job as the third base coach for Arizona. Baker is still meeting a lot of the players, but talked about how impressed he was by how in shape they all were. He drew a few laughs by saying he will sometimes grab players randomly by the arms or pat them on the stomachs just to check.

11:13 a.m. — Regan: Mike Maddux introduced himself to each member of the media and began talking about how excited he was to work with the Nationals rotation. He is a very big fan of Tanner Roark and said a spot in the rotation was "his job to lose." Maddux said he has not met with every member of the staff yet, just emailed out to introduce himself and tell them what he expected from the offseason. He also talked about how he liked seeing pitcher with some emotion on the mound like Mike Scherzer, though he did clarify that you can pitch with emotion so long as you don't pitch emotionally.

10:41 a.m. — Hughes: We just met new Nationals bench coach Chris Speier, who said he is thrilled to be back in the dugout with longtime friend Dusty Baker. He said he is excited to coach Bryce Harper and that the NL MVP reminds him of Willie Mays, whom he got to play with as a rookie in San Francisco. Speier also noted how he was first drafted by the Washington Senators, but did not sign. So he now feels like he is coming full circle as he looks to help Baker win his first World Series as a manager.

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Nationals Roundup: Rout of Miami guarantees series win for Nats

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Nationals Roundup: Rout of Miami guarantees series win for Nats

The Nationals used Sunday's nine-run offensive outburst to skate past the Marlins, 9-6. The win marks the team's first three-game winning streak of the season. 

Here are your news and notes surrounding the 2019 Washington Nationals as they head into Monday's series finale against the Miami Marlins. 

Players Notes:

NATIONALS (22-31): 

Erick Fedde's second start of the season went well for the 26-year-old. He pitched five scoreless innings of four-hit baseball, walked three Marlins and fanned four. 51 of his 83 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Washington erupted offensively Sunday. Howie Kendrick enjoyed a 3-for-5 afternoon, including a solo shot and three RBIs.  Anthony Rendon's 6th inning triple marked his first of the season, and brought two across the plate. 

Juan Soto's 8th inning single marked his 10th game (tied career best) in a row he's reached base safely. 

James Borque made his major-league debut Sunday, and it did not go as planned. He fell short of completing one full inning, surrendering four earned runs on three hits and walking two Marlins. He threw 29 pitches. 

MARLINS (16-34):

Miami starting pitcher Caleb Smith was bounced after just three innings. The Nats knocked him for five hits and cashed in for five runs. The 27-year-old entered Sunday's start with a 2.38 ERA. 

Neil Walker had a 2-for-5 afternoon which featured his 8th inning 2-run home run that got Miami on the board. 

Injuries: 

SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least Jun 6

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least Jun 1

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least Jun 6

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 27

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Monday, 5/27: Nationals vs. Marlins, 1:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Tuesday, 5/28: Nationals @ Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET, SunTrust Park

Wednesday, 5/29: Nationals @ Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET, SunTrust Park

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Nationals use time against woeful Marlins to produce first three-game winning streak

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Nationals use time against woeful Marlins to produce first three-game winning streak

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins, 9-6, Sunday to raise their record to 22-31. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Rain, sun, hail and a three-game winning streak showed up at Nationals Park Sunday.

The bad parts -- rain and hail -- put a temporary stall on the proceedings in the fifth inning. Erick Fedde finished his day around the same time. Another five-inning outing for him made him look like a reasonable part of a major-league rotation going forward.

The Nationals scored four runs in the third, four more in the sixth. The earlier four were more notable since they came against Miami left-hander Caleb Smith, one of the better lefties in the National League. Smith entered the game with a 2.38 ERA. His WHIP a mere 0.89. Washington chased him in just three innings.

Handling Smith produced the first three-game winning streak of the season. The Nationals are the last team in MLB to put together such a benign run of success. They also don’t care. The house was on fire when they arrived back to the District on Friday. Miami has served as the get-well (get-better?) card it is expected to be for NL East members throughout the season.

"If you look back, regardless of wins and losses – and we all want to win – the boys fight," manager Davey Martinez said. "They play hard, they’re in every game and now it’s gratifying to see us coming out on top. So, we’ll enjoy this one again and come out again tomorrow, we have another early game and do it again."

Max Scherzer pitches Monday. The Nationals could sweep.

2. Fedde was on the attack from the start. He threw eight pitches for eight strikes in a 1-2-3 first inning. His tempo, mentality and stuff were all on-point.

But, he made it just five innings. Fedde threw 83 pitches, 51 strikes.

Again, Fedde relied mainly on his sinker. He also threw a lot of curveballs.

Trouble was limited. Yan Gomes threw out Miguel Rojas when Rojas tried to move to third with one out in the third. Fedde dealt with seven baserunners total -- three of which were because of walks.

If there was a point to lament on the day, it centers on the three walks (one was intentional after he fell behind against Brian Anderson) in the final three innings.

Otherwise, solid work from Fedde in his second start since being re-inserted into the rotation. He appears to be a more effective pitcher than Jeremy Hellickson. The Nationals need to decide what to do with Hellickson (right shoulder strain) when he feels healthy. They could buy time by sending him on a rehabilitation assignment. That would allow a chance to be sure Fedde is on the track he appears to be. A choice would follow.

"Like I said before, my job here is to make it as tough for them to send me down, whether they want me in the rotation or the pen, I'm happy just to help this team get some wins," Fedde said.

3. James Borque made his major-league debut Sunday. It did not go well.

He and his ambitious mustache entered the game in the top of the ninth. The Nationals led, 9-2.

Borque was called up Saturday. Friends of his drove through the night from the Chicago area to make it to Nationals Park. His parents took a 6 a.m. flight. Patrick Corbin kept Borque in his bullpen seat with a complete game Saturday. The Nationals' expansive Sunday lead gave Borque (pronounced “Burke”) a chance to take the mound.

Borque delivered a four-pitch walk, with the fourth pitch going to the backstop, to the first batter. Fourteen-year veteran Howie Kendrick went over to talk to him.

When Borque reached 2-0 on the next batter, catcher Yan Gomes and pitching coach Paul Menhart went to talk to him.

A 4-6-3 double play delivered the first two outs. A double followed. Garrett Cooper walked. Harold Ramirez picked up an infield single when Brian Dozier could not get a throw off after a sliding stop. Brian Anderson then doubled in three runs.

That was the end for Borque. Four earned runs. Two outs.

"Burkie came into the game, and we’ve got to give him a chance, we’ve got to see what he does, he comes from Double-A," Martinez said. "The fact is, they don’t use a Major League baseball in Double-A, so we told him, ‘Hey, just throw your fastball and try to get it up.’ I’m not making excuses for the kid, but the first time out there and I like his stuff. But now he’s got to locate his fastball and you’ve got to get the ball over the plate."

4. Martinez has done well to manage Kendrick’s playing time throughout the Nationals’ struggles.

The temptation -- particularly when the injured list was populated by starters -- was to play Kendrick daily. His bat was needed, his defense was fine. Ryan Zimmerman went on the disabled list April 28. Matt Adams went on the disabled list May 5. Opportunities abounded.

Since Zimmerman went on the disabled list, Kendrick has appeared in 24 games. He made 16 starts, eight pinch-hit appearances and had four full days off.

Massaging playing time for the 35-year-old Kendrick was an issue when the Nationals started the season (and he was on the injured list because of a hamstring strain after coming off an Achilles tendon tear). Even with a full roster, Washington expected to be cautious with Kendrick.

Once the injuries mounted this season, and Kendrick remained hot at the plate, the easy move would have been to play him each day. Martinez played him often, but also gave him breaks. Not an easy decision. It continues to pay off. Kendrick went 3-for-5 Sunday. He’s hitting .303.

"I had conversations with Howie," Martinez said. "He lets me know when his legs are heavy. Because he's had a lot of hamstring issues and I know that. Like I said, if I can plop him in in a game where he can pinch-hit in a big moment, it means just as much to us as much as getting four at-bats."

5. Trevor Rosenthal update No. 1,896: He was in Washington on Sunday. He returns to Harrisburg on Monday to throw another inning. The Nationals thought Saturday night -- one inning pitched, no earned runs, no hits, a strikeout, 18 pitches, 10 strikes -- was better.

They want Rosenthal to make back-to-back appearances next. After that, they will re-evaluate, yet again.

Rosenthal went on the 10-day injured list April 26. He made his first rehabilitation appearance May 11. That started his 30-day clock. Rosenthal needs to come off that particular rehabilitation assignment and start another because of a new injury -- or come to the majors -- at the end of the 30 days. Rosenthal originally went on the IL because of a viral infection.

Rosenthal’s ERA at Harrisburg is 5.06.

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