Luke Erickson

Luke Erickson is a season-ticket holder for the Potomac Nationals, but makes a point of seeing games in Hagerstown and Harrisburg at least once a summer. When the PNats are away on the weekend, Luke finds a minor-league game somewhere to watch, and generally attends 70-80 baseball games a year up across several states. A former sportswriter with newspapers in Massachusetts and Oregon, Luke lives in Western Fairfax County with his wife and two sons.

Mar 172012
 

For the third time this spring, the Nats played to a tie, playing the Marlins even for nine innings. Both teams got a run on six hits, but the Nats committed two errors.

Jordan Zimmermann pitched four shutout innings, but as described by Dave Nichols on Twitter: “JZ really wasn’t hitting his spots despite no runs, no walks in 4 IP. Threw lot of pitches, lots of fouls.” Zimmerman allowed five hits, and per MASN’s Dan Kolk, threw 72 pitches, 50 for strikes.

Rafael Martin surrendered the lone Marlin run with a big fly to Miami’s starting catcher John Buck. It was the only hit he gave up over two innings, as he walked none and struck out three.

Bryce Harper got his first extra-base hit of the spring with a opposite-field double in the bottom of fourth, finishing the game with 1-for-3 while playing CF once again.

Steve Lombardozzi came off the bench and went 0-for-1, collecting two assists and combining with Andres Blanco on key double play to end the top of the 9th inning.

Tyler Moore pinch-hit for Mark DeRosa and flew out to centerfield.

Jhonatan Solano went 0-for-1 while catching the last three innings. No baserunner attempted to steal against him.

The Nats play host to the Tigers tomorrow, with Edwin Jackson taking the hill for Washington and Doug Fister doing the same for Detroit. The game will be broadcast on Nationals radio and can be heard on 106.7 FM.

Mar 162012
 

Going into Spring Training, the feeling was that Steve Lombardozzi was battling for a bench job but would more likely get sent to Syracuse to play everyday. After these two games against the Yankees, Mike Rizzo’s bluster that Davey Johnson could use him for up to 350 ABs is becoming more believable.

Lombardozzi went 3-for-3 this afternoon with a line-drive home run down the left field line and scored two runs. More importantly, he showed again that he can fill in at 3B in a pinch, though he showed both his weakness (arm) in the process of showing his off his fielding range and accuracy during his four innings of work. The home run came off C.C. Sabathia and his third and final hit came off the enigmatic Phil Hughes.

For the spring, Lombardozzi has .333/.367/.481 line in 11 games, appearing at second base, shortstop and third base.

As for the game itself, the Nats blew an early 3-1 lead and ended up losing 4-3 in 10 innings. Atahualpa Severino took the loss, allowing an unearned run on a sacrifice fly.

Bryce Harper got his first hit since returning from a calf injury, going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts on the afternoon while playing CF. He had no defensive chances, but once again strayed too far afield on the game’s final play, and arguably distracting RF Brett Carroll, whose throw was well up the 1B line.

Tyler Moore subbed again at 1B but turned in another 0-for-2 effort, grounding out to SS and flying out to CF. He did save an error by Seth Bynum to close out the 6th, coming off the bag and tagging the runner as he went by.

The loss drops the Nats spring record to 5-7 as they return to Viera to host Miami. Jordan Zimmermann is scheduled to make his third start of the spring, opposed by Tom Koehler for the Marlins. The game will be broadcast on the radio by the Nationals on 106.7 FM.

Mar 162012
 

The Nationals announced today that the player development contracts (PDC) for Syracuse, Harrisburg, and Auburn have all been extended two years, aligning four of its top five affiliates through 2014. Potomac’s PDC, which was extended in 2010, is also through 2014.

Hagerstown’s PDC expires at the end of this season. While a bid by Winchester has recently fallen flat, it would appear that the interested parties are still in talks, enough to not join in on this announcement.

As reported earlier this offseason, Kinston N.C. has recently lost its PDC with Cleveland and is currently vacant, while the Atlanta Braves have recently made an agreement to purchase the Lynchburg Hillcats and there has been talk of relocating them to Wilmington, N.C. The deal, however, requires a new facility and for the city of Lynchburg to receive another tenant. Given those two requirements, it’s likely to happen in conjunction for the next affiliate “merry-go-round” in 2014 (most PDCs are for two or four years and are typically negotiated in even years, as we reported in 2010).

Mar 152012
 

If only Ross Detwiler were still a prospect…

The stumbles by Wang (physical) and Lannan (performance) in the Nats’ 8-5 loss would have been given me the peg to hang the hopes of the 2007 1st Rounder, but instead I’ll have to leave that conversation to the beat writers and bloggers for the parent club.

Steve Lombardozzi continues to make his case to make the club on offense, lacing singles from both sides of the plate and scoring on an RBI double by Jhonatan Solano in the bottom of the third. He also stole a base and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Defensively, Lombardozzi made no errors but reminded us that his arm isn’t suited to the shortstop position, a potential strike against him, though one would think not a dealbreaker.

Bryce Harper returned to right field, where he made three putouts and no errors in six innings. Harper, however, went 0-for-3 at the plate with two strikeouts and Yankee southpaws Clay Rapada and Juan Cedeno. This could be a trend to watch, as Harper did struggle (relatively speaking) against LHPs in Harrisburg.

As aforementioned, Solano went 1-for-4 as the starting catcher, but was charged with a passed ball and gunned down two of five Yankees attempting to steal against him.

Tyler Moore was the only other prospect to get in the game, ending the game with a popup to second as a pinch-hitter.

The two teams meet again tomorrow in Tampa. Gio Gonzalez is slated to start. The game will be televised on the MLB Network.

UPDATE: Following the game, the Nationals announced the following player moves:

  • RHP Yunesky Maya optioned to AAA Syracuse
  • OF Eury Perez optioned to AA Harrisburg
  • RHP Waldis Joaquin reassigned to minor-league camp
  • RHP Jeff Fulchino reassigned to minor-league camp
Mar 152012
 

The two teams combined for five home runs, with the Braves hitting three to the Nats two in a 6-5 victory last night in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Bryce Harper returned from a eight-day layoff and got the start in CF, though he may have forgotten he wasn’t in RF for his first putout, ranging Kelly Leak-style in front of Eury Perez to end the 2nd inning. His second putout came in the 5th and was also a bit of an adventure, as the 19-year-old phenom slipped enough to allow 39-year-old Chipper Jones to advance to third base.

Offensively, Harper went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.

Perez also pulled an oh-fer at the plate (0-for-4), but lived up the first sentence of his player report (“Defensively, Perez is ready: Takes good routes, makes accurate throws, etc.”) with a nifty 9-5 double play to help quash a Braves rally in the 7th.

Steve Lombardozzi was the third prospect to start, going 1-for-5, though he was victimized by a leaping stab by Andrelton Simmons in his last at-bat. Defensively, the 23-year-old utilityman/bench candidate made a putout and three assists.

Tyler Moore came off the bench to play 1B and struck out in the 8th inning. He was unable to make the scoop on a brilliant stop by Andres Blanco but was otherwise adequate in his three innings of defense.

The Nats return to Viera this afternoon to face the New York Yankees with Chien-Ming Wang taking the hill first, followed by John Lannan.

Mar 142012
 

First off, the latest transaction post from Baseball America has just one previously unreported item. Justino Cuevas has been released by the Nationals. The 23-year-old batted .281/.304/.432 last season as a reserve for the Hagerstown Suns and Potomac Nationals. No further details are available, but in my opinion, this move may be to his benefit and give him a chance to hook on with another organization while Spring Training is in full swing.

Secondly, the City Council of Winchester bowed to public pressure and unanimously voted down a measure to transfer land to a redevelopment agency, effectively killing the plan to lure the Hagerstown Suns.

This is good news for the folks hoping the Suns will remain in Hagerstown, but as written when this story first surfaced in the dead of winter, this is par for the course in the minors. Ownership groups routinely play one city off another in hopes of a better deal, a better facility, etc. It’s their right because the team is, after all, a business. Municipalities also have the right to say no, because it’s their duty to decide what constitutes a fair use of public monies.

In essence, the situation has returned to where it was before Winchester made its pitch. The question is whether the three players in the game (Hagerstown, the Suns’ owners, and the Nationals) are willing to work towards extending the PDC sooner vs. later, as one of this site’s contributors hopes.

Mar 142012
 

With roughly three weeks to go, we’re hitting the halfway mark of Spring Training, with playing time for “our guys” dwindling with each passing game. Last night, four of ‘em saw game action in a 6-3 loss to Detroit.

  • Steve Lombardozzi pinch-ran, drew a walk, and scored a run as a sub for Danny Espinosa. He finished the night at the plate with a “at’em” ball to short
  • Tyler Moore went 0-for-2 but did no strike out while taking over the DH duties from Michael Morse. His spring average is still a robust .353, but he has yet to appear anywhere but 1B or DH
  • Eury Perez flew out to LF in his lone AB and played in RF on defense, making two putouts in his first inning on defense
  • Jhonatan Solano grounded out to 2B in the top of the 8th and caught the last three innings in relief of Wilson Ramos

It’s another night game with the Nats heading inland to take on the tenants at Team Rodent, a.k.a. the Atlanta Braves. The game will be broadcast on the MLB Network and can be heard on 106.7FM

Mar 132012
 

Rather than bury this in the comments, I’d thought I’d make this a post unto itself, which is perfect because with a night game, there might not have been a new entry today (except for something I’m saving for either a rainy day or next week’s off day ;-)

Anyway… another factor to consider with the Corey Brown/Eury Perez discussion is the new CBA. Here’s the link from BA, but in a nutshell: players with six years of MLB service that sign minor-league deals are now entitled to both a $100K retention bonus and a midseason escape (June 1) clause unless teams release them before March 30.

Essentially, this is codifying what has been done with veterans for years. In theory*, it’s giving these players a better chance of hooking on elsewhere in the majors by making it more expensive for teams to stash them in AAA. According to the article, three Nats in camp fall into this group: Rick Ankiel, Jason Michaels, and Chad Durbin. Like all things CBA, what remains to be seen is how teams will react to the new rules. *Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that like 20 of these 30-odd players will hit the streets on the same day?

As Zuckerman noted yesterday, Ankiel seems nearly certain to rise above the fray of OFs bidding to join Jayson Werth and Michael Morse, but does Roger Bernadina necessarily have an additional edge (aside from already being on the 40-man, being younger, and cheaper) by not costing the team extra? Probably, given the presumption that it comes down to “The Shark,” Michaels, and Brett Carroll battling for the fifth OF slot.

In other news, Todd Boss has begun a series on Rule 5ers Brad Meyers and Erik Komatsu. You’ll be shocked to learn Brad Meyers why hasn’t appeared in the box scores (no, you really won’t) and how Erik Komatsu may actually stick with St. Louis. Turns out Meyers and Komatsu have something in common that might also not surprise you, especially when you consider that injuries and the Rule 5 draft go together like corruption and college sports.

Mar 122012
 

Shortly after putting up eight runs for the second time in three games, the Nationals announced the optioning of three 40-man roster players and the reassignment of six more players to minor-league camp.

As the headline suggests, Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke were officially optioned to High-A Potomac. Carlos Rivero, the third 40-man player, was optioned to AAA Syracuse. The following players were also among the first cuts of the 2012 Spring Training:

  • RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx
  • OF Corey Brown
  • IF Jarrret Hoffpauir
  • C Sandy Leon
  • RHP Rafael Martin
  • OF Xavier Paul

Obviously, this is good news for us as seamheads — presuming, of course that these two players aren’t reassigned — since Potomac is our home base, we might just have my eyes on these two much sooner than I initially thought (*ahem*).

Corey Brown getting sent down (hey, that rhymes!) was a bit of a shock, especially when no-AA-experience Eury Perez seemed like a shoo-in to get optioned, too (hey, that… never mind).

It’s tempting to suggest that Perez could sticking around as a potential trade bait, but the more likely scenario is that the big club wants to work with him for a little longer before sending him to the minors camp.

Otherwise, most of these other moves aren’t surprising. Best guess for the next set of cuts is in a week to ten days.

Mar 122012
 

In the final game before the first round of cuts, the Nationals scored in each of the first five innings for an 8-4 win over the Cardinals in Viera.

Linescores from the minor-leaguers:

  • Steve Lombardozzi went 0-for-2 with a strikeout
  • Tyler Moore went 2-for-2 with a run scored
  • Eury Perez went 0-for-1 with sacrifice and a run scored
  • Corey Brown went 2-for-4 with 2RBI, a stolen base, and an OF assist
  • Matt Purke walked one, struck out one, and allowed a hit over an inning and a third

The Nationals host the Tigers tomorrow night with Edwin Jackson getting his third start of the spring. The game will be broadcast on MASN.