Diving into the depths: Washington Nationals

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Washington Nationals
Rotation
1. John Lannan
2. Jason Marquis
3. Scott Olsen
4. Miguel Batista
5. Craig Stammen
6. Ross Detwiler
7. Shairon Martis
8. Garrett Mock
9. Stephen Strasburg
10. Collin Balester
11. J.D. Martin
12. Matt Chico
13. Marco Estrada
14. Aaron Thompson
Not that it’s saying much, but I liked it better before the Batista addition. The Nationals have indicated that he was signed for the rotation, but Stammen and especially Detwiler are better bets.
Bullpen
1. Matt Capps
2. Tyler Clippard
3. Sean Burnett
4. Brian Bruney
5. Tyler Walker
6. Eddie Guardado
7. Garrett Mock
8. Jason Bergmann
9. Miguel Batista
10. Craig Stammen
11. Logan Kensing
12. Doug Slaten
13. Ryan Speier
14. Drew Storen
15. Joel Peralta
16. Collin Balester
17. Marco Estrada
18. Victor Garate
19. Luis Atilano
20. Jesse English
The bullpen is an even bigger mess. Storen will eventually work his way up, but like Strasburg, he seems destined to open the season in the minors. I don’t have a lot of faith in Bruney, Walker or Guardado, but they’ll have to pitch their way off the team in camp. The Triple-A pen might be better than the major league pen at the start of the season.


Catcher
1. Jesus Flores
2. Ivan Rodriguez
3. Wil Nieves
4. Jamie Burke
First base
1. Adam Dunn
2. Mike Morse
3. Chris Duncan
4. Josh Whitesell
Second base
1. Cristian Guzman
2. Alberto Gonzalez
3. Willie Harris
4. Eric Bruntlett
5. Pete Orr
Third base
1. Ryan Zimmerman
2. Eric Bruntlett
3. Mike Morse
4. Pete Orr
Shortstop
1. Ian Desmond
2. Cristian Guzman
3. Alberto Gonzalez
The Nationals want Orlando Hudson for second base, so the depth chart could be shaken up again. There’s also been talk of signing a first baseman and returning Dunn to the outfield, though I don’t think that’s going to materialize. The only spot here that’s completely set is third base. I’m listing Flores ahead of Rodriguez, but much of that will depend on how he looks in spring training as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery.
Left field
1. Josh Willingham
2. Willie Harris
3. Justin Maxwell
4. Chris Duncan
5. Roger Bernadina
6. Jerry Owens
Center field
1. Nyjer Morgan
2. Justin Maxwell
3. Roger Bernadina
4. Willie Harris
5. Jerry Owens
Right field
1. Elijah Dukes
2. Justin Maxwell
3. Willie Harris
The outfield is in better shape. Maxwell is ready for an extended look in case of an injury and Harris remains a capable reserve. Joining those two and the backup catcher on the bench should be two from the group of Morse, Gonzalez and Bruntlett.

Bruce Maxwell is the first MLB player to take a knee during the National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.