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Nationals turning to Tanner Roark in 2nd game of season

Nationals turning to Tanner Roark in 2nd game of season

WASHINGTON -- Marlins first baseman Tyler Moore is a big fan of Tanner Roark, who will get the start for the Washington Nationals against Miami on Wednesday at Nationals Park.

Moore was a backup first baseman/outfielder for the Nationals when Roark made his big league debut in 2013.

The right-hander was 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA that season in 14 games, with five starts. Roark then won 15 games as a starter in 2014 and last season was 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA in 34 games, with 33 starts.

"Tanner is all about makeup," said Moore, standing at his locker in the Marlins clubhouse. "His stuff is good. He goes after guys."

The new catcher for the Nationals is Matt Wieters, who came over from the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent during spring training. Roark was part of Team USA that won a gold medal last month in the World Baseball Classic.

"I think Tanner is a big makeup guy," Wieters said. "He is going to go out there and compete with whatever stuff he has that day. He is very self-aware of what he is working with that day and what he has to do to get hitters out."

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The Marlins, after losing 4-2 on Opening Day on Monday in Washington, will send right-hander Dan Straily to the mound Wednesday night against the Nationals.

He was 10-11 with a 5.37 ERA in 34 starts last season for the Cincinnati Reds then was acquired in a four-player trade on Jan. 19, 2017 by the Marlins.

Straily has made two starts in his career against the Nationals and is 0-0 with a 3.21 ERA, allowing just four hits in 14 innings but giving up five runs and five walks with seven strikeouts.

Miami, of course, needs more pitching depth after the tragic death of All-Star right-hander Jose Fernandez last September in a boating accident in Florida.

The Marlins do not have a lefty in the bullpen and all four runs by Washington came off the bats of lefties, with homers from Bryce Harper and Adam Lind on Monday.

"Obviously, you'd like to be set up if you had a couple of them, honestly," manager Don Mattingly of the Marlins said. "But I think we're just not set up like that. And I've seen other teams do without it. Some pretty good left-handed hitters over there. We got some of them out. And then a couple of them got us."

Harper hit his fifth career Opening Day homer off right-hander David Phelps, who Mattingly figures to keep using in key situations.

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"Just trying to make some stuff happen," said Harper, who hit eight homers this spring. "We had opportunities in the first five innings to really get stuff going and get it done."

One of the Washington players who has homered off Straily is third baseman Anthony Rendon, who missed the opener Monday with a sore calf.

"He could have played. I thought it would be best if he didn't," said Washington manager Dusty Baker.

With an off day Tuesday, Rendon could be in the lineup Wednesday.

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon is hitting .429 against Roark and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has four homers in 25 at-bats against him. Roark has fared well against Marlins first baseman Justin Bour, who grew up in Northern Virginia and went to George Mason University.

Bour is hitting .182 in 22 at-bats against Roark.

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Mike Rizzo details the rehabilitation process for Bryce Harper to return for Nationals

Mike Rizzo details the rehabilitation process for Bryce Harper to return for Nationals

When Bryce Harper went down Saturday night during the Nationals' game against the San Francisco Giants, everyone in D.C. stopped breathing for a moment. This was true even for Nats GM Mike Rizzo.

"We've all felt it," Rizzo said. "You get that little pit in your stomach and it's the same feeling I had when [Wilson] Ramos went out."

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The Nats' star right fielder was running out a ground ball to first base when his left leg hit a slippery base, causing his knee to hyperextend. Harper immediately went down and grabbed his knee in agony. He eventually had to be helped off the field.

The team has been plagued with injuries this season, from the bullpen to outfielders.

After the initial shock of seeing one of his best players go down with what could have been a season-ending injury, Rizzo told the Sports Junkies he went in 'GM mode.'

"You immediately go to GM mode. We immediately called our farm director, Doug Harris, and made arrangements to get Michael Taylor on a plane. Pull him out of the game in double A, get him on a plane and bring him here because we knew that we needed a player that next day. You know, you gotta change gears quick."

"Then I went down to see Harp in the clubhouse. When I saw him walking up the stairs from the dugout to the clubhouse, I was a little bit relieved. You never know with those injuries. Until you get the MRIs, until you see maybe a day or two later what transpired in there, you have to be cautiously optimistic, I guess that it wasn't an [Adam] Eaton type of thing where you knew immediately that he was gone for the season."

While everyone was waiting to see the severity of Harper's injury, Mike Rizzo and his team were making a game plan.

"You go into your evaluation mode. You look at the depth of your roster. What's next? You get the cabinet together, we were all in the GM box watching the game, so we were all together and kind of put our heads together to try to come up with a plan.

"If it's a light injury, if it's a year-ending injury, what do we do? What are the plans? And you know, you put plans together. If I'm not mistaken it was like the first inning or second inning or something like that. It was early in the game, so we had three hours to lament over it and think about what we're trying to do and put a game plan together kind of on the fly. We literally had Michael Taylor flying into D.C. later that evening so we kind of had to turn things around pretty quickly."

Now that the GM knows Harper's injury is a significant bone bruise, what steps does the team take to get him back on the diamond as soon as possible?

"If I had a time frame for you, I would give it to you. But there's no sense of putting on a time frame because the injury, the bone bruise, has to heal before he can do any type of rehab, stimulated rehab, baseball activities. He's not doing anything below the waist.

"He's doing his workout programs. He's doing all his weight work, all his cardio, all the things he has to do above the waist. But, we don't want him weight-bearing impacting with running and hitting and spinning, you know when you stick a swing and that type of thing, until he feels much much better and he's asymptomatic with the pain in his knee."

Rizzo said Harper will eventually progress to an AlterG treadmill, an anti-gravity treadmill that speeds up the rehabilitation process by supporting as much or as little body weight as needed.

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Howie Kendrick hits two homeruns for Nationals against former team

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Howie Kendrick hits two homeruns for Nationals against former team

WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, Howie Kendrick hit two solo home runs and the Washington Nationals snapped the Los Angeles Angels' winning streak at six with a 3-1 victory Tuesday night.

Gonzalez (11-5) struck out four and issued three walks in lowering his home ERA to 1.79, now the best in baseball. The left-hander, who was three outs from a no-hitter July 31 at Miami, allowed his first hit two hits into the fifth against the Angels.

Los Angeles, which had climbed into an AL wild-card spot during its streak, lost for the first time since Aug. 7. Tyler Skaggs (1-3) allowed the two home runs to Kendrick and five other hits while striking out six in five innings.

Kendrick has homered in three of his past four at-bats after hitting a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning Sunday night against San Francisco.

Playing their third game since Bryce Harper went on the 10-day disabled list with a bone bruise in his left knee, the Nationals got an insurance run in the sixth on a wild pitch by Bud Norris and an error on Angels first baseman Albert Pujols. That provided some extra breathing room when Cliff Pennington hit a home run in the eighth, the first run Brandon Kintzler has allowed since being traded to Washington from Minnesota.

With Ryan Madson's availability in question after dealing with a blister Sunday, the Nationals went with Matt Albers in the seventh, Kintzler in the eighth and Sean Doolittle in the ninth. Doolittle picked up his 12th save of the season and his ninth with Washington.