Chase Headley confident that his 2012 was not a fluke

Chase Headley confident that his 2012 was not a fluke

Padres third baseman Chase Headley hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs, 31 doubles and 115 RBI in 699 plate appearances last season, blowing away all of his previous career-bests. And he’s pretty certain he can keep that pace going forward. Via Corey Brock, beat writer for MLB.com: “I expect a lot out of myself. And…

Revere makes his return to the lineup as Nats hope to rebound vs. Cubs

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Revere makes his return to the lineup as Nats hope to rebound vs. Cubs

Nationals (19-9) vs. Cubs (21-6) at Wrigley Field 

On Thursday night, the Nationals found out the hard way what makes the Cubs the best team in baseball. Despite a quality outing by Joe Ross, Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist drove in four of Chicago's five runs en route to a 5-2 series-opening win. 

But the Nats will head into Friday's game with what they hope is a big boost to their offense: Centerfielder Ben Revere makes his return to the lineup for the first time since his Opening Day oblique injury, replacing Michael Taylor atop the batting order. How long will it take him to get in a groove? 

As for the pitching matchup, the Nats will send out their ace Max Scherzer (3-1, 3.55 ERA) to oppose John Lackey (3-1, 4.32 ERA), who was one of the Cubs' big offseason acquisitions. 

First pitch: 2:20 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Cubs - John Lackey

NATS

CF Ben Revere 

3B Anthony Rendon

RF Bryce Harper 

1B Ryan Zimmerman 

2B Daniel Murphy

LF Jayson Werth 

C Wilson Ramos

SS Danny Espinosa 

P Max Scherzer

 

CUBS

CF Dexter Fowler 

RF Jayson Heyward 

LF Kris Bryant 

1B Anthony Rizzo 

2B Ben Zobrist 

3B Tommy La Stella 

SS Javy Baez 

C David Ross

P John Lackey 

 

Follow along with GameView here.

Trotz: Caps need more production from 'certain guys'

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Trotz: Caps need more production from 'certain guys'

The second round matchup between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins looked like it was going to be an offense-heavy matchup. Four games into the series, however, it's the lack of offense that has become the story.

For the series, Washington has scored only nine goals, fewer than three per game. It's easy to immediately point the finger at Alex Ovechkin who has only one goal and two assists against Pittsburgh, but Ovechkin's line has been given the unenviable task of shutting down the Penguins' top unit. So far so good as Sidney Crosby has only one assist in the series.

Really, when talking about the Capitals' offensive struggles, the problem in this series has been secondary scoring.

"You look at the production through the playoffs, we haven't had a lot out of certain guys," Trotz said. "We just need it. We're playing a team that gets production from all four lines, we cannot afford to not have production from any lines to have a chance to win the series."

RELATED: TROTZ NAMED FINALIST FOR JACK ADAMS AWARD

It's not hard to figure out who Trotz could be talking about.

The Caps have only gotten three total points in the postseason from young offensive stars Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky. Veteran leaders Justin Williams and Mike Richards are struggling as well. Williams has four points, but his contributions have been largely negated by the six penalties he has taken. Richards, meanwhile, has zero points.

Washington's vaunted power play has also grown silent, with only one goal in 12 attempts. When asked about it after Game 4, Trotz said, "We're a hair off right now."

The team's lack of offensive production also comes at a time when they are facing a future star in net in Matt Murray.

An upper-body injury kept the rookie netminder out of the lineup until Game 3 of Pittsburgh's first round series, but he hast started ever since going 6-1 with a 1.81 GAA and .944 save percentage.

But the opportunities to beat him have been there.

Murray has given up a lot of big rebounds throughout the series, but there's been no one there up close in the crease to collect from the Caps. When teams are struggling to get the pretty goals, that's when it's time to go after the ugly ones.

When asked if he was satisfied with the amount of pressure his team was getting on Murray, Trotz said, "No because we haven't got enough goals by him. He's a good goaltender. He's playing really well. What he's doing is making some keys saves at key times. I thought he did that obviously in Game 3, he was really good and I thought he was really good in Game 2 in that third period when we had it really coming on. He made some key saves. We've got to get by that and move forward."

The problem Trotz now finds himself in is a matchup one. By going top line vs. top line, the Caps have effectively shut down Crosby's line. If Trotz tries to move away form that matchup to get his own top line more opportunities, will that allow Pittsburgh's top line more opportunities as well?

If the team can't get any production from the other three lines, it's a choice Trotz may have to make.

MORE CAPITALS: BRADEN HOLTBY BRINGS SMILE, GOALIE STICK TO YOUNG PENGUINS FAN BATTLING CANCER

Three question to ask heading into Ravens rookie minicamp Friday

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Three question to ask heading into Ravens rookie minicamp Friday

The Ravens are holding a rookie minicamp Friday and Saturday at their practice facility in Owings Mills. Saturday’s practice is the only one open to the media, so it’s still too early to ask who looks impressive. However, here are three things Ravens fans should be asking:

1. Can the team find an undrafted rookie who ultimately makes the team?

Maybe the Ravens can get lucky and add some offensive line depth with three players expected to be at minicamp – Anthony Fabiano of Harvard, Stephane Nembot of Colorado, and Matt Skura of Duke. Pass rusher Victor Ochi of Stony Brook is another player to watch.

With 11 draft picks coming in, the odds are stacked against an undrafted rookie making the team. But you never know, especially once injuries begin. Undrafted free agents who have made past Ravens rosters include wide receiver Marlon Brown, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Bart Scott, and kicker Justin Tucker.

2. Can the Ravens get through the weekend injury free?

Injuries crushed the Ravens last season. They are hoping for much better luck in 2016, starting this weekend.

3. Who’s in great shape, and who’s not?

Being in top condition can help avoid injuries. All of these rookies have been training, but there is s a difference between a personal workout and a Ravens’ practice. Coaches will take note on who can keep pace, and who needs to get in better shape for minicamps and training camp, when the intensity will only increase.