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Burnett throws, likely available Wednesday

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Burnett throws, likely available Wednesday

NEW YORK -- Sean Burnett threw off a bullpen mound this afternoon and reported no pain in his elbow, though manager Davey Johnson doesn't plan to use the left-hander before Wednesday.

Burnett, who hasn't appeared in any of the Nationals last seven games due to lingering elbow irritation, threw 15 pitches in the bullpen prior to the Nationals' series opener against the Mets. He said the elbow isn't 100 percent healthy -- "I mean, it's September, so it's not going to be 100 percent," he said -- but feels considerably better than it did after his last appearance.

"It was just more typical ball flight that I'm used to seeing and movement," he said. "It probably hadn't been like that in 2-3 weeks."

Though Burnett was hopeful he'd be cleared to return to game action Tuesday, Johnson said he's likely to wait one more day, wanting to make sure his setup man makes it through a light tossing session first.

"I don't know how much he put into the 'pen," the manager said. "Was it game-like, or what? Normally coming back from something bothering him, I give him a day of rest to regroup, and then I go. But I would expect he'd want to be in tomorrow night. I would expect that of Sean: My riverboat gambler."

Burnett dealt with this issue for a while in midsummer but bounced back and posted a 1.38 ERA while holding opponents to a .149 batting average in 15 appearances from July 13-August 10.

But Burnett hasn't enjoyed a clean outing since, allowing 19 batters to reach safely over his last six innings and blowing late leads to the Cardinals on consecutive days last weekend.

Reluctant at first to be shut down, he finally relented once he realized it might allow him to be available for the stretch run.

"They had to convince me of that," Burnett said. "That was hard for me. It feels like it's been a month for me. But it got to a point where it wasn't fair for me, it wasn't fair to my teammates, to go out there not 100 percent in a pennant race and put stuff in jeopardy. It wasn't right to my teammates. But I felt like a week off would freshen me up a little bit and hopefully get back with no pain. And today it was better. It seemed like the action on the ball was back."

The Nationals haven't had Burnett undergo an MRI, though doctors performed manual tests on the elbow and found no evidence of structural damage.

"No MRI. I didn't want to look and see what that was going to show," he said. "I've already had surgeries on it. It's not going to look pretty. ... I'm not scared something's wrong. Obviously going through the ligament tests, I passed all those. The doctor said the ligament was fine, so I don't see anything else in there."

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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