When Jayson Werth returns later this season from a broken wrist it would seem the Nationals have a full outfield. Put Michael Morse in left and slot Bryce Harper and Werth in either center or right field. When Werth returns, there will be no other place for Michael Morse if Adam LaRoche continues to play as well as he has at first.
But even with a projected full roster, the Nationals are still looking for a true center fielder and they could be interested in a long-term solution. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com Tweeted Thursday Washington has contacted teams around the league to let their intentions be known.
Bryce Harper is in CF today for 25th time in 53 starts. But Nationals are still telling teams they want to find a long-term answer in CF. DKnobler (@DKnobler) June 28, 2012
The continued search for a long-term center fielder is an interesting indication of what could be the Nationals' future plans. In getting a legitimate starting center fielder, they would in turn leave one of their current starters out. With a healthy Werth, the team would have four starting outfielders. Morse could move back to first base, but that would signal the departure of Adam LaRoche.
The 32-year-old LaRoche has a team option for next season and his return to form this year has increased his chances of returning with the Nats. If they choose to decline the option then LaRoche will become a free agent.
Even if they make a trade and let LaRoche walk this offseason, however, they would still have an excess of starting quality everyday players for this year's final months. There is the possibility of trading LaRoche before July's deadline, but as the team's home run (15) and RBI (48) leader it would be a surprise if they shipped him out midseason. LaRoche has been a huge part of their first place standing through the season's first three months. He has struggled recently though and seen his season average dip to .251. Maybe with his power numbers the Nats could be selling high.
In searching for a center fielder there are several candidates that have been linked to the Nationals in the past. Minnesota's Denard Span has come up before and he his enjoying a decent season with a .277 batting average. Peter Bourjos of the Angels has also been connected to Washington in the past, but his .237 batting average is a glaring weakness.
Another option would be B.J. Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays. Upton is set to become a free agent this offseason and is not expected to be back with the team. He is excellent in the outfield, but hasn't hit above .250 since 2008. He has a .247 average this season with a .305 on-base percentage, numbers that would slot him far down in the Nationals' batting order if acquired.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Tanner Roark threw seven impressive innings, Jayson Werth hit a solo homer and the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 on Monday night.
Roark (14-7) allowed four singles and struck out five. Marc Rzepczynski tossed a perfect eighth and Mark Melancon finished off the four-hitter.
Phillies rookie Jake Thompson (1-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. It was the longest and best of his five career starts.
Werth lined a solo shot to left in the first against his former team. A member of Philadelphia's 2008 World Series championship team, Werth was greeted by boos, as usual.
Bryce Harper raced home from first on Anthony Rendon's single to left-center to make it 2-0 in the first. Clint Robinson and Trea Turner had RBI singles off Frank Herrmann in the ninth.
Thompson settled in nicely after a rough start. His last pitch was a nasty curve that froze Turner for strike three.
Roark didn't need much support. The righty stifled the Phillies again. He's 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA against them this season.
The NL East-leading Nationals snapped a two-game losing streak.
RELATED: NATS MAKE TWO ROSTER MOVES
Nats (75-55) at Phillies (60-70) at Citizens Bank Park
Having lost six of their last eight, the Nats now hit the road to face the Phillies for three games. This could be a good opportunity to collect some wins against a lesser team, as the Nats swept each of their last two head-to-head series.
Also working in the Nats' favor is that Tanner Roark is on the mound. Roark is 13-7 with a 2.99 ERA and is very good at going deep into games, having pitched at least seven innings in 15 of his 25 starts.
Ryan Zimmerman gets the day off as manager Dusty Baker looks to get him some rest. Clint Robinson is instead playing first base.
First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Tanner Roark vs. Phillies - Jake Thompson
CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
1B Clint Robinson
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark
RHP Jake Thompson
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The Nationals have optioned pitcher Lucas Giolito to AAA Syracuse and recalled outfielder Michael A. Taylor, the team announced Monday.
Giolito will return to the minors after starting Sunday in Washington's 5-3 loss to Colorado. He pitched a career-high five innings, allowing four runs on six hits (two HRs) and four walks.
As Nationals Insider Chase Hughes noted, the rookie pitcher's velocity hasn't lived up to expectations.
His fastball is supposed to sit comfortably in the high-90s and occasionally touch triple digits ... On Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, Giolito sat consistently around 93 miles per hour. That's not bad at all, but it's a far cry from the prodigious speed he used to have.
Taylor, meanwhile, last played for the Nationals on July 24 against the Padres. He went 0-4 at the plate in the 10-6 loss.
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