Nats Take Fourth Straight, 7-1; Purke Optioned

A five-run 6th opened up a 2-1 lead as the Nationals won their fourth straight spring training game, 7-1 over the Astros. After the game, the Nationals announced that LHP Matt Purke had been optioned to the minors.

Dan Haren made his second appearance and let in the lone Houston run on two hits and a walk while striking out two. Southpaw Zach Duke got the win with three scoreless frames in his third outing. Colorful closer Rafael Soriano made his Nats debut with a scoreless inning following Duke. Jeremy Accardo and Tyler Clippard followed suit with a pair of 1-2-3 innnings to close out the game.

Corey Brown’s two-run, two-out single off former teammate Brad Peacock closed out the scoring in the 6th. An error by former Nats farmhand Justin Maxwell gave the CF reserve just one RBI as he went 1-for-2 off the bench. Here’s how the notable minor-leaguers fared in the late innings:

• Carlos Rivero went 0-for-1 in LF
• Matt Skole went 0-for-1 as the PH-DH
• Chris Marrero scored a run as a PR and went 0-for-1 at 1B
• Zach Walters scored a run as a PR and went 0-for-1 at SS
• Sandy Leon caught the 9th but made no PAs
• Anthony Rendon went 0-for-1 with a strikeout at 3B

With the win, the Nationals improved to 5-3-2 in Grapefruit League action. This afternoon the Nats head to Clearwater to visit the Philadelphia Phillies.

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As anticipated, Purke was optioned to the minors as he recovers from what was finally revealed — after months of silence — an arthroscopic procedure last August, as reported by Mark “No, not the Facebook guy” Zuckerman on Monday.

Officially, he was assigned to the Hagerstown Suns, though he’ll begin the season in purgatory extended Spring Training. He’s expected to begin pitching in competitive games in May for the second straight season.

Best guess for his first start: May 29th in Asheville, a midweek day game on the road in warm weather that would give him roughly 17-18 starts before hitting the 100-inning limit in late August.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

7 thoughts on “Nats Take Fourth Straight, 7-1; Purke Optioned”

  1. Playing the Astros is similar to the Nats playing their Syracuse team. At least Justin Maxwell gets another 500 AB’s this year in the majors.

    Alas, it will be next year before we know what we have with Purke. This year won’t tell very much.

    1. It really is. I just noticed Michael Burgess is with the Astros now. As is Rick Ankiel and Brad Peacock, all of whom would be fighting for a spot in Syracuse.

  2. Did you mean Purkeatory?

    All in all, Zuckerman’s story on Purke came across as very bizarre for a few reasons, mostly for the Nats’ bipolar approach. At several different times, the Nats have handled Purke as if he’s been healthy or, worse, had him pitch knowing he wasn’t healthy. His 2011 stint in the AFL, his 2012 ST appearances, and his 3 games in Hagerstown. If he wasn’t healthy, then why did he ever take the mound?

    Contrarily, the Nats have at the same time seemed exceptionally cautious and patient with him. After his ’12 ST stint, he didn’t pitch competitively for 2.5 months. Then they shut him down, and waited another 1-2 months, conducted several MRIs, before finally opting for surgery.
    Now, about 7 months after the surgery, Purke has been limited to soft tossing (at 50% velocity- that’s only 45 mph!) at 2 days/week. Comparatively, Javy Guerra had surgery for shoulder bursitis (same as Purke but likely more serious) in early November. He’s already pitched a couple games and been added to the Mexican WBC team. If there were concerns about his health, the Dodgers would never have allowed that. In theory, Purke should be at least 2 months ahead of Guerra. But because of the extreme caution, he’s a couple months behind.

    I suppose I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill, but it just seems like the Nats have taken an inconsistent (to the extremes) approach with Purke. But in this case, it’s better to err on the side of caution (which seems to be their current MO).

  3. If Eury Perez, Corey Brown and Erik Komatsu are all healthy and performing, it is at least plausible that Syracuse’s outfield will be better than that of the Mets, Phillies and Astros. Which is not so much an endorsement of the Chiefs as it is a ringing indictment of the other three teams.

    1. All 3 of those guys are better than anybody with the Mets, and it’s not even close. Agree with you John C.

    2. Add the Head and
      Disaster in LF Young for depth. Pray for elevation on Jimmy O and Rahl quick upon season dawning. !
      Who is watching some of the Hags LHPs on rehab? Smoker , Simko, the aforementioned Purke, Turnbill, etc etc plus Dixon Anderson?? Good healthy work results?

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