Matt Williams will be installing a merry-go-round in Nats Park once Bryce Harper returns

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Not a real one of course, though that would be awesome. Rather, a lineup merry-go-round in order to accommodate Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon once Harper returns from the DL. Here’s Adam Kilgore of the Post, relaying what Williams now says his plan is:

Zimmerman will move between left field, first base and third base; Harper could see starts at all three outfield positions; and Rendon will play both third base and second base. Williams would use the versatility to create advantageous match-ups and to give players rest. Under that scenario, center fielder Denard Span, right fielder Jayson Werth and first baseman Adam LaRoche would all receive occasional days off.

This is a change from his earlier plan, which was to have Harper play left, to move Anthony Rendon to second base and to move Danny Espinosa to the bench.

It’s Williams’ team, so he can obviously do whatever he wants. And his plan — the more elaborate one — may maximize his ability to rest guys and play the hot hand. One wonders, though, whether a first-year manager will have both the will and ability to carry through with a plan that moves a lot of veterans around and makes them frequently change positions and take days off. If the Nats keep winning, sure, easy. If not, that is often a recipe for grumbling players.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.