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Lannan still could be sent to AAA

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Lannan still could be sent to AAA

The Nationals' unconventional decision to have veteran John Lannan pitch most of last season at Syracuse despite a $5 million salary seemed like a one-time move with no chance to be repeated.

Turns out the Nationals do have the ability to send the left-hander back to Class AAA in 2013 because he still has one remaining minor-league option.

The remaining option, confirmed by a club official, comes as a surprise to many who believed Lannan had already used up all three given to professional ballplayers. What most didn't realize what that the option the Nationals used on Lannan at the beginning of the 2008 season didn't count because he was recalled to the majors only eight days later.

The "option" terminology is a bit misleading, because each one encompasses an entire season. For example, Lannan was optioned to Syracuse three separate times this year, but that counted as only one of his three career options.

Lannan also spent five weeks at Class AA Harrisburg during the summer of 2010, using up a second option. But what was previously believed to be a third option in 2008 doesn't actually count.

On March 26, 2008, the Nationals optioned the lefty to what was then their Class AAA affiliate in Columbus. He never actually appeared in a game, though, and was quickly recalled on April 4 after closer Chad Cordero was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement stipulates that an option is used up only if a player spends at least 20 days in the minors. Lannan spent only eight days with Columbus and remained in the majors the rest of the 2008 season; thus he never used up his option.

The end result of all this: If they want, the Nationals could do the same thing to Lannan in 2013 that they did this year. If tendered a contract before tomorrow night's deadline, he'll be guaranteed to make at least $4 million next season. The Nationals could either keep him in their Opening Day rotation, trade him to another club or once again send him to Syracuse to serve as a valuable (albeit pricey) insurance policy in case one of their other starters is injured.

What about the rule that gives veteran players the right to refuse assignment to the minors? That only applies to those who have at least five full years of big-league service time.

Though he's now appeared in parts of six big-league seasons, Lannan has only accrued 4 years and 96 days of service time, leaving him 84 days short of veteran status.

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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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