Bryce Harper in Nationals’ lineup for first time since crashing into right field wall

Bryce Harper in Nationals’ lineup for first time since crashing into right field wall

Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals’ starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Padres, three days after he crashed into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium. Harper returned to action last night as a pinch-hitter and grounded out in the ninth inning. The 20-year-old outfield said…

Capitals' Tom Wilson explains 'bluff' hit on Conor Sheary

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Capitals' Tom Wilson explains 'bluff' hit on Conor Sheary

One day after being fined $2,403.67 for his knee-on-knee hit on Penguins forward Conor Sheary, Capitals right wing Tom Wilson explained to reporters what he was trying to do on the play and the reputation he’s trying to develop around the NHL.

“Honestly, on that play I wasn’t even going to hit him,” Wilson said of his decision to veer off his path to the Capitals’ bench for his unpenalized hit on Sheary. “That wasn’t my intention. I was just trying to kind of bluff check him, give him a fake and kind of go to the bench and our legs got caught up. 

“Hockey’s a fast game, and sometimes stuff happens that you don’t really intend on. I think it looked a lot worse than the outcome was. The impact really wasn’t that great. He was trying to get out of the way.”

Sheary finished Thursday’s Game 1 and was back on the ice for the Penguins on Saturday at Verizon after missing Friday’s practice at Kettler.

“Just kind of an unfortunate circumstance, but the league does their job,” Wilson said. “They watch pretty much all my hits, I’m sure. When you play the game hard, you’re going to get under a microscope, and you’ve just got to make sure you’re playing within the rules. Player safety’s a big part of the game these days. We want to make sure that everyone’s kind of safe out there and guys are playing within the rules. Whatever player safety needs to do to kind of keep the game in check and playing the right way, they’re going to do that.”

Wilson, 22, said he was not given any specific message from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

“I think I get the message,” Wilson said. “I know they’re watching. I play the game hard. When you play the game that way, you’re going to be under a microscope. You’re finishing checks hard, and up until this one I’ve been completely off the books. I’ve hit very hard but very legal. I’m not going to change the way I play. I’ve got to trust my instincts.

"That’s just a real unfortunate kind of circumstance. I don’t even intend to really hit him there. I’m trying to kind of bluff hit him and our legs get tangled up. I had no intention on going knee-on-one. You ask any player, if I’m going in there planning to go knee-on-knee, there’s a 50/50 chance it’s going to be my knee that blows up. That’s an unfortunate play. I’m sure he’s all right. I hope he’s all right. We’ll just go on with the series here.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he believes Wilson has become a more disciplined player in his two seasons of coaching him. Wilson noted that he has never been suspended by the NHL, although that could be the NHL’s next step after issuing a fine.

“The game’s constantly evolving, you’ve kind of got to evolve with it,” Wilson said. “The Pittsburgh media was saying it was just a crazy Game 1, it was an octagon not a rink and I don’t think they really watched the Philly series because that was even crazier. 

“I kind of learned throughout that series that I’ve got to tone it down a little bit. Our team’s so good on the special teams that if we can give our team the advantage, that’s what I want to do. There’s going to be emotion, it’s playoffs and I’ve just got to make sure that I’m putting our team kind of up a man not down a man. 

“It’s playoffs, stuff happens. That was kind of an unfortunate one, but I’ve talked to Barry, I’ve talked to numerous refs, the league, I’ve talked to people. It’s no secret that I hit hard and that I play the game hard. I’ve just got to make sure that I’m staying within the rules and doing what I have been doing.”

Capitals tell Taylor Chorney to prepare as if playing in Game 2

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Capitals tell Taylor Chorney to prepare as if playing in Game 2

Caps defenseman Taylor Chorney said he’s been told to prepare as if he’s playing in tonight’s Game  2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, likely in place of Dmitry Orlov, who was benched after being on the ice for a goal in Game 1 Thursday night.

“They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. "We’ll just see how it goes.”

Defenseman Karl Alzner did not participate in the team’s morning skate but Caps coach Barry Trotz said everyone is available to play tonight when the Caps try to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

“Watch warmups and you’ll see what we’re doing,” Trotz said.

Chorney played for the Penguins last season and earned a contract with the Capitals last summer. In 55 games this season Chorney, 29, recorded one goal, five assists and was a plus-8.

“I don’t know if you call it an advantage but I think you’re familiar with some of them,” Chorney said of the Penguins. 

Chorney is expected to play on a third pairing with Nate Schmidt.

The Capitals lost both games that Chorney has played in the post-season. He replaced Brooks Orpik (upper body injury) in Games 4 and 5 against the Flyers in Round 1 before he was replaced by Mike Weber.

Trotz said Chorney’s play had nothing to do with his removal from the lineup for Game 6 against Philadelphia, indicating he made the move for Weber’s physicality.

Orlov has played in all 89 games for the Caps this season but Caps coach Barry Trotz said his leash is shorter with players in the playoffs than in the regular season.

“Playoffs, everything is about short-term memory and move forward,” Trotz said. “He’s done a lot of good things.”

Ross returns to mound as Nats continue series at Cardinals

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Ross returns to mound as Nats continue series at Cardinals

Nats (15-7) vs. Cardinals (12-11) at Busch Stadium

Joe Ross returns to the mound for the Nationals today after leaving his last start and getting his turn in the rotation skipped due to a blister on his right hand. The Nats and Ross called the move precautionary, but it will still be interesting to see how he returns to action.

Ross will be facing a Cardinals lineup that looks much different today. He won't see Jedd Gyorko, Randall Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty, who all played on Friday night. The Nationals have their expected lineup set to play with Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia on the mound.

First pitch: 2:15 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Joe Ross vs. Cardinals - Jamie Garcia

NATS

CF Michael Taylor
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
2B Daniel Murphy
LF Jayson Werth
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Joe Ross

CARDINALS

CF Jeremy Hazelbaker
3B Matt Carpenter
LF Matt Holliday
1B Matt Adams
C Yadier Molina
RF Brandon Moss
SS Ruben Tejada
2B Kolten Wong
LHP Jaime Garcia

Follow along with GameView here.