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DeRosa could rejoin Nats in days

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DeRosa could rejoin Nats in days

BALTIMORE -- The Nationals expect to have utilityman Mark DeRosa back from the disabled list within days, perhaps in time for Sunday's series finale against the Orioles.

DeRosa is starting in left field for Class A Potomac tonight and is scheduled to play nine innings for the first time since landing on the DL with a strained left oblique muscle. If that goes well, manager Davey Johnson suggested the 37-year-old could be in uniform as soon as Sunday at Camden Yards.

"He's going to play nine innings tonight and see how he comes out of that, and we'll take it one day at a time," Johnson said. "He could be here tomorrow or another 2-3 days. We'll see."

DeRosa was hitless in his first four at-bats on rehab, though he did draw two walks last night. Afterward, he exchanged emails with his big-league manager and gave an encouraging report.

"He left me an email and said that he was feeling great," Johnson said. "He wanted to know what the plan was. And I said: 'Well, the plan was for you to get some at-bats, start feeling real good and let me know when you're feeling real good.' And his answer was: 'I'm feeling great.'"

Signed over the winter to a one-year, 800,000 contract, DeRosa was expected to be one of the Nationals' top players off the bench and see significant playing time at a variety of positions. He got off to a sluggish start at the plate, though, and had just three hits in 37 at-bats before landing on the DL in late-April.

What will DeRosa's role be upon his return? Opportunities to start will probably be limited, but he does want DeRosa to be ready to step in at third base should struggling Ryan Zimmerman need a break.

"Right now, I was more concerned in having somebody who can pick up Zim if his shoulder starts bothering him or something," Johnson said. "So I wanted him to play third his first time down there at Potomac, and he's hopefully going to play third tonight. Really the only other replacement I've got for Zim if he gets hurt is Steve Lombardozzi. And if I have him in left field, I really don't want to make that change, putting him in a new position."

DeRosa's pending return will force the Nationals to part ways with someone else off their bench. Candidates include rookie Tyler Moore (though he's become one of the team's hottest hitters) or veterans Xavier Nady (hitting .150) or Roger Bernadina (hitting .233). Neither Nady nor Bernadina has any options left and thus would have to pass through waivers to be sent to Class AAA.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others