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Updated: Good news for Carpenter, Span close to live BP


Updated: Good news for Carpenter, Span close to live BP

[Updated 6:35 p.m.]

The Nationals had a few pieces of good news to share on the injury front before Monday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, as their overall health as a team continues to improve.

David Carpenter has been cleared to resume his throwing program after seeing a second opinion on his right shoulder. Carpenter has been on the disabled list since July 12 with right shoulder inflammation. The right-hander began a throwing program in July, but had to be shut down after feeling discomfort and was given anti-inflammatory shots and an MRI.

Now Carpenter appears to have turned a corner in his rehab.

"He's back on a throwing program and getting ready to go again. All the results are good and he's building back up. He'll go out and throw today and start that process," Matt Williams said.

Denard Span resumed baseball activities on Saturday when he joined the team in New York. He is rehabbing from back tightness and has been on the DL since July 7.

Span has been throwing, taking fielding practice and has been hitting in the batting cage. The next step is live batting practice and Williams thinks Span could be ready for that very soon.

"In the next couple of days we'll get him out for a live BP session and then look for him to get some live BP later in the week. Then running the bases. That's kind of of the final step. Depending on how he feels, we'll progress to that. We'll see," he explained.

Span has also been running sprints in the outfield and continuing his core-strengthening exercises.

"The last few days has been pretty good, so, very encouraging," Span said. "I’ve been running sprints the last couple days. Today, I added groundballs and we upped the sprints today. Definitely tired. My legs feel very, very heavy cause I haven’t done much in two-and-a-half, three weeks. The fact that I’m out here, getting a good sweat on is definitely a good sign for me."

Williams said there is no specific activity they see as a final test before Span goes out on a rehab assignment.

"Volume. It's going to be volume, probably," Williams said. "Limited in the cage is one thing, but getting out there and just reacting without having to think about it is key, too. But if he can go through multiple BP sessions and early work and regular defensive work that he does, then he should be fine to get out there and play somewhere."

Williams added that Span has experienced no back spasms or pain since increasing his workload on Saturday. But though he feels good, Span doesn't want to rush back, even with the NL East division race starting to heat up.

"I have to be smart. I rushed myself out of spring training and came back a couple of weeks early," Span said. "In hindsight, looking now, it probably would have been a little bit smarter to take those couple of weeks to get myself more prepared for the season. This time around, I want to make sure I'm all the way ready. I want to make sure I'm ready to come back and play this last month-and-a-half to two months straight without any complications."

Stephen Strasburg will pitch his second minor league rehab assignment on Monday night with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. The right-hander has been sidelined since July 5 with a left oblique strain.

Strasburg threw 64 pitches in his first outing on July 29 and the Nats would like to see him throw 20 to 25 more in this appearance.

"85-90, depending on how everything goes, how stressful his innings are. If it's a good outing for him and he feels good about him and he gets through five at 70, we can push him another inning. So, it depends on how it all goes. But the tops is 90," Williams said.

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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."