The Nationals are sniffing around for center fielders

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The Nationals must have finally realized they are starting Rick Ankiel in center field on most nights, because Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com writes that they are currently searching for an upgrade.

Nyjer Morgan wore out his welcome in Washington, so it was hard to blame them for trading him to the Brewers before the start of the season, but they’ve been stuck with a less than inspiring platoon of Ankiel and Jerry Hairston Jr. until this point.

Ankiel is batting just .211 (12-for-57) to begin the season and isn’t an above average defender to begin with while Hairston is batting.154, albiet in just 26 at-bats. Rosenthal writes that club officials are mixed on Roger Bernadina, who is currently playing with Triple-A Syracuse.

Rosenthal doesn’t give us much as far as any current targets, writing that the Nationals could be “linked to any and all available center fielders,” but he does bring up B.J. Upton, who is from the same area of Virgina as Ryan Zimmerman. Of course, the Rays won’t likely entertain the possibility of trading Upton unless (or until) they fall out of contention.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.