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Boras refutes Mazzone on Strasburg

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Boras refutes Mazzone on Strasburg

On Wednesday morning, ESPN 980's Mike and Mike had on a special guest to weigh in on the Stephen Strasburg innings limit. Former Braves' pitching coach Leo Mazzone was asked about the decision to shut down the Nationals ace as he once mentored one of the best starting rotations in MLB history, a group that some have compared to the current one in Washington as far as youth and talent.

Mazzone ripped the Nationals and called their plan "pathetic," siding with the argument that the team should hold nothing back in trying to win a World Series this season.

And the reason I say that, Ive got the experience. Youngsters like Steve Avery when he was 21 taking us to a World Series with a group of kids, with Smoltz and Glavine and Avery and Pete Smith and one veteran guy, Leibrandt. Prior to Maddux in 93 in 91 and 92 these guys all pitched 200-plus innings. Ok? And everybody had long careers."

To many, the immediate problem jumping out of this particular statement was the citing of Steve Avery. Avery was a tremendous young pitcher who had success early on in his career, but faded after the age of 23 and was out of the league by the age of 29. He never had Tommy John surgery as Strasburg has had, but he isn't exactly a prime example of a lengthy major league pitching career.

One thing Strasburg and Avery do have in common is their agent as Scott Boras once represented Avery some 20 years ago. Boras decided to call in to Mike and Mike the very next morning and spent much of his time on the Avery and Strasburg comparison. Coincidence? Probably not.

"I've heard a lot of things over the years, I've heard about the great Atlanta Braves pitching staff and all of their performances," he said. "Well I represented Steve Avery and I'm sitting there watching his career end at 28 or 29 years of age who was a brilliant pitcher."

Boras cites his own research of the workload for pitchers between the ages of 21 and 23, how the Braves' rotation exemplifies the right way to handle arms and, in the case of Avery, the wrong way. He points out Tom Glavine (431.2) and John Smoltz (503.1) threw far less innings in what he called their "formative years" than Steve Avery (713.1).

The Braves picked Avery 3rd overall in the 1988 draft and he didn't make the majors until 1990. He threw 99.0 innings his first season and then jumped all the way to 210.1 innings the following season. Boras is now glad that a team like the Nationals know better than to increase a pitchers workload that significantly.

"They want players to know that they care and they monitor these things," he said of Mike Rizzo and the Natioanls' brass.

With the specific numbers he cites and the length he took to explain, it sounds like the downfall of Steve Avery is still fresh in Boras' mind. It is safe to say he doesn't want it to happen again to another young pitcher, even as the ace of a team looking primed for contention.

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Nationals' Dusty Baker thinks Washington teams are positioned to win a championship this year

Nationals' Dusty Baker thinks Washington teams are positioned to win a championship this year

Nationals manager Dusty Baker is back for a second year and feeling optimistic for his Washington team. Spring training has begun in Florida and it has Baker thinking about how the Nats can create some excitement for local sports fans.

In an interview with American University’s WAMU radio station, Baker said D.C. wants to be a "city of champions.” Furthermore, he thinks it can be pulled off before the year ends.

"I came here to win a championship and you know I would love nothing more than to bring one to Washington. Washington, I didn’t know it before I got there, but it’s had a tough time getting out of the first round in a number of sports."

He projected the Nationals to bring home the next championship for the District, but he knows they have competition of late. 

"Washington Wizards are looking pretty good. I’m pulling for them first because their season ends before ours, so I’ve been really following them. The Capitals have a good thing going. I started watching the Redskins more this year.

"You know once it gets contagious in a city and you get a positive attitude throughout the city, then it transfers to the sports teams. So we want to be known as a city of champions, before the end of the year hopefully."

Baker has a reputation for bringing out the best in his teams, especially managing star players. He managed the San Francisco Giants for ten seasons before moving on to the Chicago Cubs, a team he managed for four seasons.

He's never won a World Series, but has taken a team to Game 7. He also finished third for the 2016 National League Manager of the Year award.

So, what are Baker’s steps for the Nationals to get that ultimate prize? A simple formula, really.

"I think that we’ve got to stay healthy, number one. We’re trying to fill the holes that we need to fill, and we’ve got to play," he said. "You know last year we were very close, we were one hit away or one play away or one pitch away from going to the next round against the Cubs."

While he says he came to win Washington a championship, he's also enjoying his time in the city. 

"I love D.C. Before that, San Francisco was my favorite town; that’s my home. But I tell you, D.C. is definitely in the running," he said. "I thought San Francisco had the best seafood, but man, you guys have the best seafood I think in the world."

Thanks, Dusty!

The Nationals play their first spring training game against the New York mets on Saturday.

RELATED: NATIONALS REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE

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Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

When it comes to sports, we sometimes forget that the athletes we look up to are just normal people. Normal people who have a lot to prove to millions of people on a weekly basis. Former Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel has discussed one of his human moments in an interview with 590 The Fan in St. Louis.

Ankiel admitted to drinking vodka during his plight as a pitcher. He referenced his first two starts of the 2001 season, in particular against the Arizona Diamondbacks where he allowed his anxiety to give in to alcohol to soothe him. In the previous postseason, he became the first pitcher since 1980 to throw five wild pitches in a single inning. 

It may have worked for a couple of games but Ankiel eventually realized it was only making matters worse.

Ankiel began playing in Majors at the age of 19, and has had a fluctuating career through six teams. All the while, he has kept a “never give up” mentality.

Why the sudden need to vent? Ankiel is getting up close and personal with his upcoming book, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed my Life” which is co-written by sports writer Tim Brown. The book will be released on April 18.  

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