Tag:Jim Riggleman
Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:45 pm

Desmond awaiting call on first child

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ian DesmondI wonder if Chelsea Desmond's wife has the number to the dugout phone in St. Louis? Because her call will determine how much her husband plays against the Cardinals in today's doubleheader and possibly tomorrow.

As soon as Desmond gets the call, he's going on paternity leave.

Luckily for the Nationals, Chelsea hadn't called by the third inning of the first game on Wednesday, when the team's shortstop had a two-RBI single as part of the six-run inning off of St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook.

Major League Baseball has added a 1-3 paternity list this season and Desmond is looking to take advantage of it when needed.

"It's going to be dependent on when he gets that phone call that says, 'You've got to get home," Nats manager Jim Riggleman told reporters, including Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. "It could be today, it could be a few days from now. … Depending on when he goes, who we're going to be playing against and what kind of pitching we'll face, we'll bring the necessary player up."

The Nationals have another day game on Thursday before going to Pittsburgh for three games. The team is off on Monday before starting a homestead.

Texas pitcher Colby Lewis was the first player to use the new personal leave in MLB last week when he joined his wife after the birth of their daughter last Wednesday. Lewis returned to pitch last night against the Angels and gave up four runs in five innings of a 15-4 Rangers loss.

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Posted on: March 28, 2011 11:25 am
Edited on: March 28, 2011 11:40 am

Managers on the hot seat for 2011

By Evan Brunell

Managing a team is a tall task. Not only do managers have bosses to answer to, but they are responsible for overseeing a coaching staff, promoting good relationships with athletes who will earn far more than a skipper can dream of, winning games and knowing at the first whiff of trouble, the ax will fall not on the player or the GM, but the manager.

Even coaching legends Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa have multiple teams on their managerial resume, some stops which ended in being let go. Which managers are in similar danger this season?

GerenBob Geren, Athletics
Fifth season
Athletics record: 307-340
Contract: 2011 team option picked up after one-year extension

Geren is just sort of ... there. He doesn't make waves, which is good. He hasn't had any run-ins with players or made headlines, all good things. On the flip side, however, he gets next to no praise for his job done piloting the A's.

Sure, part of that has to do with his tepid success, as the team is 33 games under .500 with Geren at the helm, dropping from 93-69 in Ken Macha's final season of 2006 to 76-86 the next year. In 2010, Oakland split 162 games, marking the first time Geren did not have a losing record in Oakland. That's not the kind of stuff that gets you attention.

But there's another aspect to it, and that's the belief that Geren does what the front office wants. One would think this would be a good trait, as it's often smart to listen to your superiors. But when you're largely considered a placeholder with all the important decisions coming from above ... well, that's why there hasn't been much praise for Geren.

Geren is replaceable, even if he's functional. In a season with increased expectations after moves made that have some believing the A's could win the division, Geren will need to perform. If he doesn't, the front office will have to weigh whether the effect of letting Geren go could improve the team. There's a school of thought that sometimes replacing managers can be responsible for a bump in play. This is where Geren's perceived "yes-man" role could come back to hurt him as he wouldn't have other intangibles -- such as his skilled mastering of clubhouse dynamics or in-game management or player evaluation -- to fall back on to compel Oakland to retain him.

LeylandJim Leyland, Tigers
Sixth season
Tigers record: 424-387
Contract: Final year of two-year contract extension

Leyland burst on scene in 2006 after a six-year hiatus and took Detroit to the World Series before eventually falling to the Cardinals. He would win seven less games the following year, but repeated a second-place finish. 

However, Leyland's Tigers would drop all the way to fifth place in 2008 with a 74-88 mark before rebounding with 86 wins before last season's 81-81 finish. As Leyland has pronounced, it is time for him to show that he can put Detroit in the playoffs as his job is on the line.

Leyland doesn't really deserve blame for the Tigers' slide back into mediocrity these last few years as Detroit has battled injuries to key players along with undeserving players making far too much money when the club had to convince free agents to come to town following 2003's 119-loss debacle. But after an offseason in which the club imported Victor Martinez, Joaquin Benoit and Brad Penny, among others, the expectation in town is to contend for the division title and certainly finish over .500.

If that doesn't happen, Leyland could easily take matters into his own hands and simply walk away. But if the Tigers are flailing early on, management would likely not hesitate to make a move despite Leyland's stature in the game. 

QuadeMike Quade, Cubs
First full season (second overall)
Cubs record: 24-13
Contract: First year of two-year contract plus 2013 team option

Quade had a rough start to his managerial career, even if his record stands at a sterling 24-13. Quade had the luck of replacing Lou Piniella after Sweet Lou's sudden departure from Chicago. Quade then battled his way from being an unknown to beating out franchise icon Ryne Sandberg for the permanent job, causing Sandberg to leave town in a huff.

Quade's reward? Attempting to bring a World Series to the North Side for the first time in over 100 years and already having to manage a clubhouse fight between Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez. Good luck!

So why is Quade on the hot seat, especially since he has two guaranteed years on his deal? Because if the Cubs don't perform, the money allocated to Quade will be little enough to not be of concern. If Chicago is careening toward 100 losses, the public backlash will be too great for GM Jim Hendry to ignore.

On Quade's side is a relative luxury of uncertainty surrounding the team. The Cubs could feasibly land anywhere between 75-85 wins, and both 90 wins and losses can't be discounted either. Quade would have to really bomb to get cut, but what's worth monitoring is how the front office stands up to what could be an irate fan base should Chicago dip under .500.

RigglemanJim Riggleman, Nationals
Second full season (third overall)
Nationals record: 102-135
Contract: Final year of two-year contract with 2012 team option

Riggleman is a manager who is just sort of there. The Nationals didn't harbor any illusions that Washington would contend, so Riggleman has essentially received a free pass on the Nationals' record since taking over.

It certainly helps that Riggleman is thought to be among baseball's lowest-paid skippers. However, given the Nationals' increased expectations of winning, starting in 2011, Riggleman could be considered a lame-duck candidate -- especially given GM Mike Rizzo just received a contract extension through 2015. Given Rizzo picked Riggleman both to be interim manager and to remain as permanent skipper, it speaks volumes that the long-time manager does not have more job security.

A strong showing will certainly force Washington's hand in picking up the team option or negotiating an extension, but given nothing has happened to this date, it's clear that management is waiting to evaluate Riggleman's performance on the field.

The Nationals are unlikely to reach .500 this season, even as they talk game about making improvements to the team. A .500 record is a more realistic goal for 2012, but given the pronouncements and optimism of the front office, Riggleman could end up taking the heat if the team plays slightly worse, if not to, talent level.

RodriguezEdwin Rodriguez, Marlins
First full season (second overall)
Marlins record: 46-46
Contract: First and final year of contract

The Marlins wanted Ozzie Guillen, that's no secret.

Edwin Rodriguez ended up being the consolation prize to finish out the season after Fredi Gonzalez's dismissal. But even his 46-46 showing wasn't enough to land him the inside track on being Florida's permanent manager.

Florida certainly tried to find a new manager, but no one -- at least, no one they wanted -- was biting. So Rodriguez became a consolation prize and agreed to a one-year deal with Florida, which positions him for a quick exit should the Marlins fail to start the year with anything less than a .500 record. Owner Jeffrey Loria has always had idiotic expectations (as Joe Girardi and Gonzalez can attest to as well), and the positioning of the Fish as a "sleeper team" will only pressure Rodriguez more to get off to a fast start.

A trigger-happy owner with unrealistic expectations for his team, which searched far and wide before settling on bringing back Rodriguez, who agreed to a one-year deal -- which certainly has to have a low salary attached to it -- is a recipe for landing on the hot seat. In fact, of all the managers listed, Rodriguez is the best bet to be handed his walking papers.

Potential replacements

It's rare for a team to make an outside hire in midseason to pilot a team. Most teams opt to go with interim managers, filling from the bench or third-base coach spots (like Quade) until they can better evaluate at the end of the year. There are exceptions, as Buck Showalter can testify to. To that end, it's tough to predict with any certainty who would fill managerial spots in season. However, Bobby Valentine has been a hot name and given his repeated linking to the Marlins vacancy would have to be the prohibitive favorite to take over Florida should Rodriguez be handed his walking papers.

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Posted on: March 26, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2011 1:19 pm

Nats' manager 'disappointed' in Morgan's comments

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Nyjer Morgan told MLB.com on Friday that he thought he was on his way out of Washington, and he's probably right.

Nyjer Morgan

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said he was "disappointed" by Morgan's comments. From the Washington Post:

“Somebody brought it to my attention, and I did read it,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “The thing about it is, Nyjer has been a tremendous worker this spring. He’s been the first guy here. He’s putting in the time in the cage, working with [third base coach] Bo Porter on his base running. He’s been an outstanding all-around guy. So I’m disappointed that he feels that.

“I’m sure it’s based on seeing the two or three other guys he’s competing with. Maybe he feels like we’re sending him a message that he’s not our center fielder. We’re still determining that. We’re still determining where he fits on the club if he’s not our center field. So, yeah, I’m disappointed. I understand where it’s coming from.”

Friday, Morgan said he could see the writing on the wall with Rick Ankiel and Jerry Hairston Jr. getting the bulk of playing time in center field.

"I'm a realist," Morgan told MLB.com's Bill Ladson. "I'm not going to sit here and be like, 'Oh, no. I want to finish my career here.' I just think this place isn't for me. I'm not saying there are bad people here. It's just that, maybe, I'm not a fit here anymore. It's time to move on."

The Nationals have made it clear that Morgan is on the block. He didn't do himself any favors with his comments on Saturday, but the reaction seems to prove his point.

Morgan is hitting .241/.328/.315 with a home run and six stolen bases this spring. Ankiel, his main competitor, is hitting .229/.288/.500 with three homers this spring. Hairston is hitting .174/.235/.304.

Morgan was the center of several incidents last season, including a brawl with the Marlins. Florida, incidently, may be the best fit for Morgan. The Marlins don't think Matt Dominguez is ready at third base and are unsure if Chris Coghlan can play center field. He could return to third base and the team would be able to use Morgan in center.

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Posted on: March 26, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:33 pm

Pepper: Japanese players coping

Daisuke Matsuzaka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sometimes the nature of our 24/7 news cycle makes us forget -- or at least move on from -- even the biggest of news stories get lost in the next big story.

Even though Japan is still dealing with the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami -- and will be for years -- we're not hearing as much about Japan right now. It's only natural. But that doesn't mean that everything's OK there.

Yankees pitcher Kei Igawa went to Japan last weekend and was deeply moved by what he saw.

"It was pretty disastrous," Igawa told the New York Daily News through an interpreter. "The roads were a mess, and when I was home, the water wasn't running. It was pretty hard for me."

Igawa's parents and family are OK, but keep in mind his hometown of Oarai well south of the epicenter and 100 miles from the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima. He said his house didn't suffer flooding, but did suffer damage from the earthquake.

The Yankees allowed him to return home, where he spent five days and returned earlier this week.

"Compared to the rest of the country -- especially up north, where it was much worse, I feel really fortunate," Igawa said. "I wanted to stay home a little longer, because my family and friends are going through  hard time. But I also had to resume baseball, because that's my job."

Igawa will start the season in Triple-A. He's in the final year of his five-year, $20 million contract.

Many other Japanese players are trying to come to terms with what's going on at home, as well.

"Fortunately, I am a survivor, but it hurts, of course," the Angels Hisanori Takahashi told the Los Angeles Times through an interpreter. "It has definitely been difficult to focus on baseball.

"Seeing all the [TV] footage, you get a little numb, but it's a real thing. I have to keep my eye on the tragedy, but I also have to play baseball here."

Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka said he's still too emotional about the situation to discuss it publicly, but he showed how he felt by giving $1 million to the Red Sox Foundation, which is giving all that money to the Japanese Red Cross Society to help fund relief efforts. The Red Sox said Hideki Okajima, Junichi Tazawa and Itsuki Shoda have also made personal donations through the Red Sox Foundation.

Matsuzaka joins fellow stars Ichiro Suzuki (100 million yen, roughly $1.2 million) and Hideki Matsui (50 million yen, roughly $620,000) in making large donations to the Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan.

BATISTA FINED -- Reliever Miguel Batista was the only Cardinal fined for last week's scuffle between the Cardinals and the Nationals. Batista hit Washington's Ian Desmond to start the fracas. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

BUCK FALLOUT -- We've already had Buck Showalter backpedaling about his comments to Men's Health about his comments on Derek Jeter and the Red Sox. Derek Jeter, not surprisingly, wouldn't comment on Showalter's comment. However, a look at the stats say Showalter's wrong -- Jeter actually doesn't get the calls on the inside corder. [ESPN]

TULO'S FINAL FOUR -- Finally, a Final Four that matters. You can now vote for one of four songs Troy Tulowitzki will use for his at-bat music. Well, to me they're all crap, but I'm not the target audience. Tulowitzki had "Party in the USA" last year, so the selections this year are just as bad -- "Firework" by Katy Perry, "Baby" by Justin Bieber, "We R Who We R" by Ke$ha and "Yeah 3X" by Chris Brown. Vote here. [Denver Post]

THE LEGEND BEGINS -- I'm reading Jane Leavy's The Last Boy  about Mickey Mantle right now, so I knew about the legend of Mickey Mantle's home run at USC in 1961. Well, the Los Angeles Times remembers it too. A really cool story on the birth of the legend of the Mick.

MILLWOOD GOOD? -- Is Kevin Millwood really that bad? Looking at some of the recent pitchers to have 16 losses and an 82 ERA+ like Millwood did last season shows some pretty decent pitchers have done that before. [Baseball-Reference.com blog]

HE'S NOT FAT, HE'S BLOATED -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal explains he was bloated from medication, not fat when spring training started. Furcal ate contaminated meat in his native Dominican Republic in January and the drugs he took made him bloated. He looked big when he checked in, but he was just 193 pounds, about the same he usually checked in at. He's now at 188, just about where he likes to play. [Los Angeles Times]

D-BACKS BULLPEN ISN'T BORING -- Diamondbacks bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas has discovered bored, rich relievers will pay people to amuse them. So, Motuzas takes on dares to pick up extra bucks. Among the things he's done -- snorted wasabi, eater regurgitated yogurt, left hot balm on his shaved armpits for an entire game and gotten shot in the earlobe with a BB gun. Livan Hernandez once paid him $3,000 to drink a gallon of milk in 12 minutes. The two also had a deal that Hernandez could punch him in the junk for $50 a pop -- with a $300 bonus after every 10th punch. [Wall Street Journal]

BUT IS HE WRONG? -- An anonymous "MLB star" had several things to say to  ESPN the Magazine about the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, including "why isn't Cabrera paying a guy $100 a night to drive him around? Plenty of guys do that. That he didn't is a slap in his teammates' faces." [MLive.com]

ROCK THE KAZMIR -- Mike Scioscia didn't sound too optimistic about Scott Kazmir when he announced the lefty had made the team's rotation. If Kazmir struggles continue into the regular season, Matt Palmer may be an option. [Los Angeles Times]

TOGETHER WE'RE GIANT -- Our buddy Will Brinson loves the Giants commercials. I found them amusing, but still not as good as the Mariners commercials. I like the Cardinals ones better, too.

RIGGLEMAN DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STATS -- You've seen some good commercials, now listen to a bad one. The Washington Nationals, MASN and Jim Riggleman are attacking stats in their newest campaign. Apparently a bunt or a "well-placed single" are "smart" -- and the walk is recognized as a good thing. But yeah, a pretty silly campaign.

THE NATURAL ON THE HILL -- Robert Redford will throw out the first pitch at the Cubs' opener on April 1 against the Pirates. [Chicago Tribune]

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Posted on: March 25, 2011 10:01 am

Pepper: Young, Daniels clear the air

Michael Young

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With no games to play, sometimes some stories get a little too overexposed. From the Cliff Lee sweepstakes to Chase Utley's day-to-day health and the Jon Daniels-Michael Young feud, we're all pretty much tired of them by now.

The story won't be closed until Young is no longer in a Rangers uniform, then he'll have a press conference, have his say and it'll all be over. For now, he's still a Ranger and back on speaking terms with his general manager. The two met Wednesday and Thursday, and Young said neither minced words.

"I laid out in detail what I was feeling, what my concerns were and gave him the opportunity to do the same," Young told the media on Thursday, including the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. "Anytime you're going to sit down with somebody where there's a problem or an issue and air things out face-to-face, it's always productive."

Young would not say if he still wants to be traded, but Daniels said it's "unlikely" to happen before the season begins -- and Young understands that.

"It created a situation where fans, media and other people in the organization were almost taking sides," Daniels said (again, from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram). "It should have never been that way. We both want the same thing, for the Rangers to win. Through that process, I think Michael took a lot of shots from the media and fan base that from my persecutive weren't necessary."

That last statement is interesting to me -- it's Daniels standing up for Young. He may have thought or said in private some of the same things the fans or media have said, but he's not going to do that in public. It's a wise move, one that  Young -- no matter what he's said in the past -- has to at least see as a move in the right direction.

Maybe Young plays out his days as a Ranger, maybe he doesn't. But either way, hopefully we can end this chapter.

READ THIS TODAY -- The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger writes a great column on former Royal Willie Mays Aikens and his faith. Aikens is dealing with family tragedy even after everything in his life was looking up. After 14 years in jail, Aikens had been hired by the Royals this offseason. I'll let Mellinger tell the rest of the story.

BLAME THE MESSENGER -- Well, once someone says something interesting, we all know they'll come back and claim it's "taken out of context." That's what Buck Showalter did on Thursday, backing away from his comments in the April issue of Men's Journal about the Yankees and Red Sox. [Boston Globe]

GALARRAGA TO BULLPEN -- The Diamondbacks are expected to move Armando Galarraga to the bullpen, with Aaron Heilman taking the fifth spot in the team's rotation. Galarraga has an 8.44 ERA in 16 innings this spring. Galarraga said he still wants to be a starter. [Arizona Republic]

NATS PICK FIFTH STARTER -- Tom Gorzelanny will fill out the Nationals' rotation, manager Jim Riggleman said on Thursday. Livan Hernandez will open the season for the Nationals, followed by Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Jason Marquis. [MASNSports.com]

AND SO DO THE Rockies -- Colorado's fifth starter will be right-hander Esmil Rogers. Rogers will follow Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Jason Hammel. [Denver Post]

LAWRIE SENT DOWN -- After saying he was done with the minor leagues this offseason, Brett Lawrie discovered he's not the one in charge of that decision. The 21-year-old third baseman said he was disappointed, but understood his demotion. The Blue Jays acquired Lawrie this offseason by sending Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee in exchange for the former first-rounder. [MLB.com]

ORDONEZ READY -- Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez said he'll be ready for opening day. Ordonez returned to action for the first time since last week on Thursday night. Ordonez went 1 for 4 on Thursday with a double. [MLB.com]

BELTRAN IMPROVING -- Carlos Beltran reported no pain in his knees after a workout on Thursday and Mets manager Terry Collins was so impressed with the way he looked that he wouldn't count out Beltran for opening day. [New York Times]

MORALES IMPROVING -- Orthotic inserts have helped ease the soreness in the left foot of Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales. Morales still won't be available for opening day, but he has gotten the OK by the team's trainers to start "baseball activities." [MLB.com]

DAVIS DRAWING INTEREST -- Doug Davis, the 35-year-old left-hander, threw for as many as eight teams in Tempe, Arizona, on Thursday. Davis made just eight starts last season for the Brewers due to a heart problem and elbow surgery. Among the eight teams to watch him were the Rangers, Rockies, Orioles, Mets and Angels. [MLB.com]

WORK OF ART -- Pedro Martinez will be on hand at the Smithsonian on Friday for the unveiling of his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery. A painting of Martine done by Susan Miller-Havens has been donated to the gallery by MLB.com's Peter Gammons and his wife.  [Smithsonian]

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER -- The man the late Buck O'Neil handpicked to run the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City following the legend's death, is finally getting the job. Bob Kendrick was passed over as the head of the museum two years ago and on the brink of collapse, Kendrick has been tabbed to takeover.

Few people were as upset at the snub as former Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski, who has kissed and made up with the museum on his blog. [Kansas City Star]

FAN-DESIGNED UNIFORM -- I didn't know until yesterday that the White Sox uniforms of the the 80s were the product of a contest run by the team to design a new uniform. Richard Launius, then of Dayton, Ohio, designed the White Sox's pullover Sox uniforms with numbers on the pants.  [ESPN.com]

FOOD NETWORK INVADES YOUR PARK -- The Food Network is offering steak sandwiches at eight ballparks this summer. If you're in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, San Diego, St. Louis or Texas, you can go visit Paula Deen working her cart at your park. What, you don't think she's going to be there? Maybe Morimoto? We can hope. [Sportsandfood.com]

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 9:18 pm

New teammates help Nats' Storen

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Few players have had as bad of a spring as Nationals reliever Drew Storen. Coming into the spring, Storen was the favorite to land the closer's gig in D.C., but in 7 2/3 innings, he'd allowed 12 runs, 10 earned, and 16 hits.

Drew StorenMonday, Storen had just his second clean inning of the spring, a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the save against the Astros and lower his spring ERA to 10.38.

Storen said the success followed ditching his high leg kick and went back to a slide step. He has less power that way, but it messes with the hitter's timing. At least that's what two of his new teammates told him, and it may be working.

"I've got to give credit to Matt Stairs and Jayson Werth for saying something about it to me," Storen told MASNSports.com's Pete Kerzel. "They kind of asked, 'What did you do with the slide step?' and they talked about how irritating it was to face that and how it annoyed the hitters. … That's priceless feedback."

Manager Jim Riggleman is standing by Storen, for now.

"The thing with Drew -- [or] anybody else who struggles a little bit at times during the spring -- there's a history there, or a track record," Riggleman said. "He came up and really did a good job for us last year. That's the sample of work you draw from more than a few [bad] spring training outings. Any progress he makes to get away from where he's been the last couple of weeks, [and] he'll be on our ballclub. He's earned that trust level with what he can do late in the ballgame with his quality of pitches."

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 7:04 pm

Cardinals, Nats have words

Livan Hernandez

UPDATED 6:58 p.m.

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Benches cleared Monday in the Cardinals-Nationals game, but they may have emptied at the wrong time.

The two teams met on the field -- with the managers, Jim Riggleman and Tony La Russa yelling each other -- in the seventh inning after Cardinals reliever, and former National, Miguel Batista hit Ian Desmond.

That got the Nationals' Nyjer Morgan's ire, and the two teams met in the middle of the field for a typical baseball millabout.

However, it was the third time a player had been hit in the game.

Chris Carpenter hit Laynce Nix with a fastball in the fifth inning and then the Nationals' Livan Hernandez hit Colby Rasmus.

While Carpenter denied hitting Nix on purpose -- "Not at all," Nix told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It was either cutting or moving back over the plate."

Of course, it may be noted that Carpenter only had trouble locating after Morgan bumped into Albert Pujols when running into first base that inning and a trainer had to be called onto the field.

Nix felt like he was hit on purpose.

"There's no question about that," Nix told reporters, including the Washington Post. "As for why, I think you have to ask them."

Although it's unlikely Bud Selig and Joe Torre will agree with me, I find it refreshing that Hernandez went ahead and said he hit Rasmus on purpose. He told MLB.com's Bill Ladson he hit meant to hit Rasmus. We all know it's part of the game and it happens, it's actually nice when someone's honest about it, so kudos to Hernandez there. Here's the entire quote, thanks to MASNSports.com:

"You hit somebody on purpose and you know I'm going to hit somebody because I'm old school. I hit somebody and it's over right there. ...You got to take care of your teammates," Hernandez said. "If something happen to your teammates, you got to go and step up and do something. This is what I do. Take care of my teammates. Always."

Any admission is good for a fine and/or suspension, which is why most pitchers will just wink and smile before their denial. 

As for the hit batter who actually got people off the bench, Desmond said he didn't mind getting hit by Batista, because "Miggy throws like Miss Iowa, anyway," he told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore (via Twitter). That, of course, is an allusion to last year when he famously said about fans booing him while starting instead of Stephen Strasburg, "Imagine, if you go there to see Miss Universe -- and you end up having Miss Iowa."

However, Hernandez wasn't happy another guy got hit.

"I hit [Rasmus] because [Carpenter] hit somebody. ... I was surprised [Desmond got hit] because you're not supposed to hit [a third] guy," Hernandez said. "That one's a problem. In the old-school baseball, and La Russa knows, if you hit somebody first, you're supposed to take the next one. That's it, it's over. Then you hit another guy again. It's not fair. That one's not real baseball."

There was bad blood between the two teams last year after Morgan ran into Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson in August. Riggleman apologized after that game and kept Morgan out of the lineup the next day for fear of retaliation.

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Posted on: February 18, 2011 11:06 am

Nats' Riggleman: 'Pudge is our catcher'

Ivan Rodriguez Ivan Rodriguez will be more than a mascot or coach -- he's the Nationals starting catcher, and manager Jim Riggleman made that clear Friday morning.

"Pudge is our catcher," Riggleman said, according to CSNwashington.com . "We're going to go out there, and Pudge is going to continue to lead our ballclub as a leader behind the plate, a good hitter and just a good baseball player. He's got a lot of baseball left, so he's our catcher. And whoever wins that second spot is going to get incorporated into the lineup more and more as we go along."

Rodriguez, 39, hit .266/.294/.347 with four home runs and 49 RBI last season, but hit .296/.325/.389 in the first half, with just one homer. In the second half, he hit .231/.257/.297.

The Nationals have two good, young catching prospects in Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. Flores had been the team's starting catcher in 2009 before undergoing shoulder surgery. Flores hasn't played since 2009, but has played in parts of three seasons and is still just 26. He was hitting .301/.371/.505 in 2009 before his injury.

Ramos, acquired last season by the Nationals in the Matt Capps trade, started 15 games for the Nationals last season and hit .269/.296/.404 with a home run.

The two will battle it out for the backup job and the front-runner as the catcher of the future.

"Whether it's Ramos and/or Flores, they're very talented guys," Riggleman said. "We're not going to let them die on the vine. They've got to get playing time. So whichever guy is there, if not both of them, they're going to get playing time and stay sharp. And as the year goes on, probably get a little more playing time."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com