Tag:Livan Hernandez
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:10 am
 

Hernandez's bunt a thing of beauty

Livan HernandezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Livan Hernandez is one of those players that never seems to stop thinking. He'll do anything -- and try anything -- to win. On Thursday, he not only did that on the mound, throwing a 53 mph curveball for a Jason Bay groundout, but also with the bat.

With runners on first and third and one out in the fourth inning, Hernandez laid down a bunt that didn't go as far down the first-base line as he wanted for the squeeze. So instead of trying to leg out the bunt, he stutter-stepped and basically blocked Mets catcher Josh Thole from fielding the bunt. By the time Thole got past Hernandez, turned and tried to tag Jerry Hairston Jr., Hairston had already scored.

"I've done that play before," Hernandez told MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling after the game. "This the way I do it -- when the ball doesn't go too far, you've got to wait, so the catcher doesn't catch the ball fast and throw the people out more easily, or make the out at home plate. I did it last year, too."

Watch the play here.

When asked if he was worried about interference, Hernandez said he wasn't.

"No, because I'm the runner," he said. "[If] the guy pushed me, I can't get ouf the box like that. If he hits me, I'm going down and maybe it's the catcher's mistake."

It's a brilliant play and well within the rulebook. Even if it were against the rules, it wouldn't be hard to believe Hernandez just isn't very fast or had little reason to run hard out of the box.

As for Wednesday's reports linking him to a Puerto Rican drug dealer, Hernandez dismissed those following the game.

"We're good. We don't have a problem. I'm going to let you know one day," he said. "Whatever came out in the papers, if they do not say the truth, it's OK. I can't do nothing when something came out. I can't do nothing."

Hernandez picked up the win, pitching eight innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, with five strikeouts and a walk. He's now 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA on the season.

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Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 5:42 pm
 

Money laundering investigation includes Hernandez

By Matt Snyder

Nationals starting pitcher Livan Hernandez is currently being looked at as part of an investigation by authorities in Puerto Rico in connection with a money laundering scheme with a drug czar, reports the Washington Times .

Hernandez reportedly has several cars and properties under his name that are actually owned by Angel Ayala Vazquez, a convicted drug kingpin in Puerto Rico.

“We’re looking into people who assisted with money laundering,” U.S. Attorney in Puerto Rico Jaqueline Novas told The Times. “(Hernandez’s) name came up during the trial several times.”

Vazquez was recently convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin and other drugs at public housing projects in Bayamon, P.R. His sentencing is August 9. The ongoing investigation of the laundering involves the FBI, DEA and U.S. Attorney's office, though Novas wouldn't comment on whether or not Hernandez is an actual target of the investigation.

The Nationals issued the following statement:

"The Nationals are aware of and continue to monitor the situation as it pertains to the Angel Manuel Ayala trial."

Hernandez, 36, is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in five starts for the Nats this season. He is next scheduled to pitch Thursday night. Considering the Nats already know about the investigation but aren't sure about the extent of his involvement, it's pretty likely he'll make the start as scheduled.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 30, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:49 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/30: Opening day matchups

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3UP

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw vs. Tim Lincecum -- Opening day at Dodger Stadium, against the Giants and with the Giants coming off a World Series title, this game has enough going for it to start with, add in two of the best young pitchers in the game and it's an embarrassment of riches. (Thursday, 8 p.m. EST at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles)

CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander -- There'll be no shortage of heat at Yankee Stadium tomorrow. Sabathia is starting his third straight opening day for the Yankees, while Verlander's strong spring give hope to avoiding another rough April. Not only do you have two of the best pitchers in the game going head-to-head, they're both facing formidable lineups. (Thursday, 1:05 p.m. EST at Yankee Stadium, New York)

Felix Hernandez vs. Trevor Cahill -- Hernandez won his first Cy Young Award last season, while Cahill is at the top of what is probably the American League's best rotation. We all know Hernandez's resume, but Cahill had an impressive 2010 as well, going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. (Friday, 10:05 p.m. EST at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif.)

3DOWN

Ryan Dempster vs. Kevin Correia -- Correia goes from being another guy in a very good rotation in San Diego a year ago to the top of the Pirates' rotation. Dempster has started two opening days before, both in Florida, but is hardly a marquee name for one of the game's marquee franchises. (Friday, 2:20 p.m. EST at Wrigley Field in Chicago)

Derek Lowe vs. Livan Hernandez -- Lowe's starting his third straight opening day for the Braves and Hernandez is making his fourth overall opening day start for the Nationals/Expos, but first since 2006. Both have had good careers, but there's little sizzle to this matchup.  (Thursday, 1:05 p.m. EST at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.)

Tim Stauffer vs. Chris Carpenter -- With all due respect to the 2005 Cy Young Award winner, this game is as much about who isn't pitching as who will toe the rubber. The expectation was that it would be Mat Latos against Adam Wainwright, this just doesn't have the same juice. (Thursday, 4:15 p.m. EST at Busch Stadium, St. Louis)

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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 23, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: March 23, 2011 11:42 am
 

Pepper: Greinke explains why Nationals were nixed

Greinke

By Evan Brunell

JUST WIN, BABY: Zack Greinke spoke about rejecting a trade to the Nationals in favor of the Brewers, turning down an extension that would have been worth over $100 million.

The reason for the deal, Greinke says, has nothing to do with having anything against Washington. In fact, Greinke wouldn't rule out going to the Nationals once he hits free agency, but Milwaukee is where he wanted to be.

"The one thing I couldn’t get over was the fact that, here I was trying to get out of Kansas City because the team wasn’t good," Greinke said. "Not saying [the Nationals] don’t have a chance, but I was trying to get to a team that was looking really good at the moment. And I believe [the Nationals] will be good eventually."

In addition, Greinke cited the fact that Washington would have given up too much of its building blocks that could take the team into contention, including Jordan Zimmermann, Danny Espinosa and others. Milwaukee, meanwhile, coughed up players that weren't crucial to the contending process.

But for now, Greinke is with the Brew Crew and rehabilitating a cracked rib. While everyone involved would prefer Greinke was healthy, the extra time has allowed those in the organization to get to know Greinke. (Washington Post)

STICK TO THE MALL: Tommy Hilfiger came out with some redesigns of iconic sports uniforms with his take on the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, Montreal Canadiens and New York Yankees. Umm, Tommy... stick with what's gotten you here, 'kay? (San Antonio Express News)

WELCOME TO THE JOB: In Joe Garagiola, Jr.'s first ruling, baseball's new disciplinarian is expected to hand down a ruling on the Cardinals-Nationals fracas from Tuesday in which Livan Hernandez admitted plunking Colby Rasmus on purpose. It's unclear how hard Garagiola will come down, but expect fines at the very least. (Washington Post)

POLE POSITION: “MLB wants to play in Europe and the Netherlands have conquered pole position," says MLB's director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Netherlands are on track to build a baseball stadium for 2014 to host baseball's first European games in Hoofddorp, a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam. Germany (Regensburg) and Italy (Rome) are also in contention. (Mister Baseball

"NOW PLAYING CENTER FIELD -- WAIT, WHAT?" Jason Bay took a turn in center field for the Mets on Tuesday, and it could be something you see again. Skipper Terry Collins says Bay could play center in a pinch as he will not allow Carlos Beltran to return to center at any point. (New York Times)

Josh Hamilton v.2: Everyone knows Josh Hamilton's story, but have you heard of Jeff Allison? The Marlins grabbed him with their first-round pick in 2003 after Hamilton was named Baseball America's High School Player of the Year. Two heroin overdoses and an Oxycontin addiction later, Allison seemed on the verge of leaving baseball -- and life. But he's been clean for over four years now and got his first taste of the majors Tuesday. (Miami Herald)

ROTATING LINEUP: Joe Maddon would love to have a set lineup for the Rays, but that's not going to happen. There's too much good information, he says, that comes from within the organization regarding production against certain pitchers and especially this year, Maddon plans to take advantage of it. (MLB.com)

TALKING CONTRACT: Adrian Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, was in town on Tuesday to talk contract with the Red Sox. Both sides came away optimistic, and -- stop me if you haven't heard this before -- expect an extension to be consummated in April. (Boston Globe)

IZZY'S FINE: One of the more intriguing stories of spring training was Jason Isringhausen's return to the majors with the Mets. An injury appeared to have perhaps changed that, but Isringhausen says the injury won't knock him out for a while and he should still be ready for Opening Day. (New York Post)

STILL NO NO. 5: The Cubs still haven't made any decisions on who the No. 5 starter will be, so Carlos Silva gets another chance to turn his spring training around when he draws the start in Wednesday's spring-training game. (Chicago Tribune)

RIDE THE PONY: A classic restaurant that was the staple of baseball people in Scottsdale, Ariz. for a decade has reopened under new ownership and has drawn rave reviews for ... keeping things exactly the same, which is how patrons of the restaurant like it. (Washington Post)

ORGAN MUSIC: A nice little story on the White Sox's new organist, replacing one who retired after 40 years on the job. (Chicago Tribune)

REMEMBERING STEVE OLIN AND TIM CREWS: Tuesday was the 18th anniversary of the tragedy that took the lives of Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews. A look back... (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

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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 11, 2011 12:42 pm
 

Long list of contenders for Nats rotation

MayaThere's seemingly no end to the list of pitchers that could win a rotation spot for the Nationals.

Luis Atilano, Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzelanny, Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, J.D. Martin, Yunesky Maya, Craig Stammen, Jordan Zimmermann... that's a lot of names for just five spots.

Of course, most of these spots are locked up. It's hard to imagine Hernandez (pictured) not winning a spot when he's the projected Opening Day starter a season after posting a 3.66 ERA in 211 2/3 innings.

"Here's the thing about baseball," pitching coach Steve McCatty told the Washington Post. "Until somebody says, 'Hey, you have it,' you better fight your butt off to keep it. I'm sure that the guys realize, 'Hey, Livo is probably going to be starting. They look at how many starts are open. 'I don't know how many spots we have, but I want to be one of them.' Competition should bring out the best of them."

Hernandez figures to be joined in the rotation by Marquis, Lannan and Zimmermann, leaving just one spot for the scrum to get. But as McCatty points out, what if Marquis shows he's not all the way back from injury? Or Zimmermann, despite his loads of talents, doesn't put it all together?

"I'm not trying to sit here and say those guys are nailed down," McCatty said of the projected front four. "Those are the guys who roll off your tongue first, but it doesn't mean it's a lock. Those final decisions will come down to [manager Jim Riggleman] and [GM Mike Rizzo]."

The leaders for the No. 5 spot are Maya and Gorzelanny. Maya defected from Cuba and spent 2010 in the farm system, making a handful of starts down the stretch, but the 29-year-old didn't impress. A star turn in the winter leagues has boosted his stock, but he will have to contend with the recently-acquired Gorzelanny, recently of the Cubs. A year younger than Maya, Gorzelanny pitches from the left side and has unquestioned stuff but has struggled to put it all together consistently. If he finally goes, it could be a major gain for the Nationals.

-- Evan Brunell

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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