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Guillen calls Harper 'unprofessional'

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Guillen calls Harper 'unprofessional'

MIAMI -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen lashed out at Bryce Harper following today's game, calling the Nationals rookie "unprofessional" apparently for using too much pine tar on his bat.

"I could have said a lot of stuff about this kid," Guillen said following his team's 4-0 loss to the Nationals. "I've been praising this kid like every day. The last three times they asked me about him, the only thing I said was he's a great player. What he did today was unprofessional."

What did Harper do to upset Guillen? He apparently stepped to the plate in the top of the first inning with pine tar too far up the barrel of his bat. Guillen alerted the umpiring crew, which informed the Nationals, who had Harper change to another bat for his second at-bat.

But when Harper came up to hit in the top of the third, he pointed his bat toward the Miami dugout. Guillen started yelling from his perch, first at Harper and then at Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

"I was just telling him how cute he was," Guillen said, refusing to divulge details. "Something happened there the inning before, and I didn't like it and I was talking to the umpire about it."

The Nationals didn't understand what Guillen was so upset about.

"Ozzie had complained that the pine tar was too high up on Harper's bat, so we changed it," Johnson said. "Then he was still chirping about it. It got on the umpire's nerves. It got on my nerves. He was trying to intimidate my player, I guess. That's not going to bother our player. He does what he has to do."

Harper, who went 0-for-4 during the victory, stayed above the fray after the game.

"He battles for his team, and that's the type of manager Ozzie is," the 19-year-old All-Star said. "He's a great manager to play for. He's going to battle for you, no matter what. That's a manager you want to play for."

Major League Baseball Rule 1.10(c) restricts players from putting pine tar on their bats more than 18 inches from the handle, an infraction most notably associated with Hall of Famer George Brett (who happens to be one of Harper's favorite players).

"It's such a fine line," Johnson said. "They put the pine tar, it's only supposed to be at the top of the label. Some guys, it might be over half an inch or something. There's still a foot of the barrel to hit it with. If you hit it on the pine tar, it's going to shatter everything. They replace the ball all the time, anyways. What's the big deal?"

Johnson, of course, made enemies with Rays manager Joe Maddon last month when he got Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta ejected for having too much pine tar in his glove.

What residual effect might there be from this incident? Nobody was saying, but Guillen suggested he would be having a chat with Johnson at some point.

"I'm not going to tell you guys what he did, because I'm not going to be talking about it on ESPN, Baseball Tonight, what happened again," the Miami manager said. "I'll just leave it like that. I'll talk to his manager in a little while."

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Nats' Joe Ross to begin minor league rehab assignment on Sunday

Nats' Joe Ross to begin minor league rehab assignment on Sunday

Okay, let's try this again.

Nearly a month after Joe Ross' initial minor league rehab assignment was halted due to a setback in his recovery from right shoulder inflammation, the Nationals' starter will now go on another rehab stint beginning Sunday with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. He will face the Pawtucket Red Sox in Syracuse.

This is a major step for the Nats' right-hander, who hasn't appeared in a big league game since July 2. Ross threw two bullpen sessions this week, one on Tuesday in Baltimore and another on Thursday in Washington. It was an encouraging series of days for Ross, who last pitched in a game on July 30 with Syracuse. He also pitched for Syracuse on July 24.

Ross is now well on his way to returning, but whether he can build his innings up to come back as a starter is still hard to tell. The minor league regular season only runs through the first week of September, so it's still possible Ross will need to return to the Nats as a relief pitcher.

Manager Dusty Baker shared the latest on that situation before Saturday's game:

"I don't know. That's a question that we're trying to answer now. If not, then hopefully in the playoffs he can be on the team and help us out of the bullpen. Usually, you're only carrying three starters on the team anyways during the playoffs. If he was number four and whoever else or whatever, that makes for a better bullpen. I have hopes that he can at least make it back to that point," he said.

That is all, of course, pending this second minor league rehab stint goes well. Last time Ross felt discomfort and didn't have his velocity quite where he wanted it to be.

Ross starting for Syracuse may give some hints as to who will start for the Nationals on Sunday against the Rockies. Lucas Giolito was lined up to pitch Sunday for the Chiefs and already was a likely candidate to be called up to the Nats. Now that theory has even more legs to it.

[RELATED: Max Scherzer digs down deep to help Nats, shut up Orioles fans]

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A.J. Cole faces Rockies as Nats look for third straight win

A.J. Cole faces Rockies as Nats look for third straight win

Nats (75-53) at Rockies (60-68) at Nationals Park

It's a quick turnaround for the Nationals and Rockies, who pick back up for a 1:05 p.m. first pitch on Saturday afternoon. Rookie A.J. Cole gets the start following his seven-inning, four-run outing against the Orioles on Aug. 22, his 2016 season debut. Cole will once again see a tough lineup, this time with a bunch of lefties including Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra.

Pitching for Colorado will be Jorge De La Rosa (8-7, 5.07). The veteran lefty faced the Nats just two starts ago and gave up four runs in six innings at Coors Field.

Wilson Ramos is back in the Nats' lineup after missing two games. He's hitting sixth behind Anthony Rendon.

First pitch: 1:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - A.J. Cole vs. Rockies - Jorge De La Rosa

NATS

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP A.J. Cole

ROCKIES

CF Charlie Blackmon
2B D.J. LeMahieu
RF Carlos Gonzalez
3B Nolan Arenado
LF David Dahl
1B Gerardo Parra
C Nick Hundley
SS Daniel Descalso
LHP Jorge De La Rosa

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE STATS AND SCORES

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Gonzalez on earning career win No. 100 : 'I’m just happy it came'

Gonzalez on earning career win No. 100 : 'I’m just happy it came'

Gio Gonzalez isn’t the type to harp on his accomplishments. After quality outings, he typically deflects praise to his Nationals teammates in postgame interviews when asked to describe his personal performance.

But as much as he tends to downplay, earning his career 100th win in Friday's victory over the Colorado Rockies clearly meant something to him. 

“I’m just happy it came,” Gonzalez said. “I finally showed up and I’m happy I did it here with this organization. Oakland gave me an opportunity and Washington helped me continue that opportunity and I couldn’t be happier to do it with these colors and represent the Washington Nationals.”

The feat came after two no-decisions in his previous two starts, so the third time proved to be the charm. After the game, he had a gathering of family and friends waiting outside the Nats’ clubhouse to congratulate him, some holding gold “100” balloons and others wearing hats featuring the oft-used Twitter emoji of the same number.

“I'm sure it was [on his mind],” manager Dusty Baker said. “…He didn’t want to come out of this game. He was going to get it eventually and we needed it.”

The 30-year-old left hander accomplished the milestone thanks to six innings of two-run ball on just 85 pitches against the hard-hitting Rockies lineup. Gonzalez displayed a lot of what his skipper wanted to see from him: a low pitch count, avoiding the big inning and, as he did later in the game, deliver shutdown frames immediately after the Nats offense scores.

“He threw great tonight," added Bryce Harper. Kept a very good Rockies lineup off balance and did what he needed to do. Stuck with his approach and threw like Gio knows how. Huge for him, that hundredth win. Couldn't be happier for him and his family.”

Historic achievement aside, Gonzalez has quietly turned his season around after a rough patch. In his last nine outings, he’s 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA over 50 2/3 innings. His resurgence couldn’t have come at a better time, as he’s charged with stabilizing the back-end of a rotation that’s in flux due to injuries to Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross.

“That's the key to his success,” Baker said. “Not getting runners on base or not walking people and he had a very good game tonight, excellent game. His last couple games, few games have been good. I'm just glad we were able to get him his 100th victory.”