Talkin’ Baseball with Randy, Danny, and El Duque

Seems Like Old Times

Two years ago, Randy Knorr (right) managed the Potomac Nationals to the Carolina League title with significant playoff contributions from Jhonatan Solano, Cole Kimball, Michael Burgess, and Jack Spradlin. Ten other current Senators (including Edgardo Baez, Devin Ivany, Marvin Lowrance, and Hassan Pena) were also members of the P-Nats at some point in that championship season. It stands to reason that this experience can only help the Sens as they stand 1/2 games ahead of Bowie for second place in the EL’s Western Division.

The majority of guys on this roster have been under Knorr for over a full season now and they embody his calm style and follow his lead when the going gets tough. You can see it in the way that they never quit during games regardless of the deficit. You can see it when they rebound a day after losing a tough game as if yesterday never happened. Over the last two months, this team had many opportunties to pack it in after heartbreaking losses and insurmountable odds. They could have thrown up their hands and lamented their predicament when key members were promoted during the stretch drive. Instead, they united (mohawks and all) and competed at the highest level to give themselves the best chance to win each and every night.

Who knows if we’ll get another opportunity to see them here on City Island? With six regular season games left to play, the last playoff spot is still very much up for grabs. But, regardless, it’s been a joy to watch these guys come together into a true baseball team…the likes of which we haven’t seen much of around here for quite awhile.

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I hope Kimball, Burgess, and Steve Lombardozzi aren’t sick of the Senators’ skipper just yet. Beginning in mid-October, all three will be participating in the Arizona Fall League as members of the Scottsdale Scorpions under the managerial eye of Knorr. Joining that trio in the AFL from the Nationals’ organization will be Derek Norris, Sammy Solis, and former Senator Adam Carr.

Welcome to the Show

Yesterday, former Senator Danny Espinosa was added to the MLB roster as part of Washington’s September call-ups after his time here in Harrisburg and Syracuse where he cumulatively batted .268/.337/.464 with 22 homers, 69 RBI, and 25 stolen bases. Since Ian Desmond has already established as the Nationals’ shortstop, the organization has moved Espinosa to second base in hopes of forming a young and talented middle infield with potentially the biggest range in the major leagues.

Espinosa made his MLB debut when he entered last night’s game in the bottom of the fifth inning replacing Adam Dunn in the Nats’ order. In his first MLB at-bat, Espinosa drove in Desmond when he doubled over the second baseman’s head off of Marlins’ pitcher Burke Badenhop. Nats Insider Mark Zuckerman spoke with Espinosa about the whole experience:

“It was great. I had such a fun time. It was a little fast for me and I was nervous. I just had to slow myself down a little bit. But I had a great time. It was just a great experience to be here.”

Congrats to Danny on a well deserved call-up and to a long, successful career in Washington.

El Rajado is More Like It

At the end of the seminal baseball movie Bull Durham, Annie Savoy says “you have to respect the ballplayer who’s just trying to finish out the season”. I guess that quote best explains why I lost all respect for Orlando Hernandez last Sunday when he walked away from the Senators with only 9 regular season games remaining. El Duque left the team when he learned from Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo that he was not getting a September call-up to join his half-brother, Livan. I find it highly doubtful that another team is going to sign him and immediately assign him to the MLB club anymore this season, so why leave now?

Over the previous three weeks with the Senators, Hernandez had become a mentor and role model for a lot of the young pitchers (especially the Latin ballplayers) on this team. If the Senators were floundering 6 games out of the playoffs or mathematically eliminated, I would understand his disappointment and ultimately the decision he made. But for him to turn his back on them and the rest of the squad as they battle for the last playoff spot with little over a week left shows me the true colors of the former big-game pitcher.

** Photos courtesy of Chris Knight / The Patriot-News

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