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Nats plan to use Wang out of bullpen

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Nats plan to use Wang out of bullpen

Chien-Ming Wang will likely pitch out of the Nationals' bullpen once he comes off the disabled list next week, manager Davey Johnson said today.

Johnson's decision to use Wang as a reliever comes as a surprise, given the manner in which the Nationals have talked up the veteran right-hander and suggested all along he would not be a good fit in the bullpen.

The emergence of left-hander Ross Detwiler, though, all but forced the Nationals into making this unconventional move. Detwiler, who makes his eighth start of the season tonight against the Orioles, is 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA.

"Detwiler has pitched himself into a role as one of the main guys, not only this year but for the future here," Johnson said. "Everybody says it's a good problem to have, but probably not for the questions I'm going to get asked in this room. Because there's no easy choice."

Wang, who re-signed with the Nationals as a free agent in November for 4 million, was a projected member of the Opening Day rotation until he pulled his hamstring trying to make a play at first base in mid-March. He's been on the DL since, but his 30-day minor-league rehab assignment must end by May 27.

Wang is scheduled to start tonight for Class AAA Syracuse at Toledo, his fifth rehab appearance. Johnson said he'll make one more start before coming off the DL and then taking over a long relief role with the Nationals.

"When he comes up, I will probably start him in the bullpen," the manager said. "That's probably the easiest no-decision. But I don't look at him as a reliever. I look at him as a quality, major-league starter."

The Nationals will take some precautions with Wang, using him on more of a starter's schedule and giving him extra time to warm up before entering games.

During a brief stop at Nationals Park earlier this week, the 32-year-old suggested he would be open to pitching out of the bullpen. He's made five career relief appearances, all with the Yankees, and admits it wouldn't be the easiest transition.

"It might be a question," Wang said through interpreter John Hsu. "But I would like to try, and I would like to help."

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Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time

Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time

HOUSTON -- Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer, Howie Kendrick had a two-run triple and the Washington Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time, 4-3 Tuesday night in a matchup of division leaders.

Washington's winning streak over the Astros dates to 2012. The Nationals have won 13 of 14 against Houston since 2011.

Kendrick's triple tied it in the third before the Astros went back on top with an RBI single by Josh Reddick in the bottom half. Anthony Rendon doubled with two outs in the fourth before the homer by Wieters, which landed just to the right of straightaway center field, gave the NL East leaders a 4-3 lead.

Tanner Roark (10-8) allowed six hits and two earned runs in 5 2-3 innings and Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Charlie Morton (10-6) gave up four runs in six innings for the AL West-leading Astros.

The Astros threatened in the eighth against Brandon Kintzler when Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles and the Nationals intentionally walked Carlos Beltran with one out to load the bases. But Max Stassi grounded into a double play to leave Houston trailing.

George Springer led off the Houston first with a single, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Reddick.

Beltran doubled off the wall in left-center field in the second and scored on a single by Derek Fisher.

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Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

When Max Scherzer was a teenager, he didn't know that one day he'd actually become a two-time Cy Young Award winner. He had no guarantee he'd make it to the majors, much less play in five consecutive MLB All-Star games. 

All he knew was that he had the option to go pro as a kid or go to college, and back then, the Nationals' ace needed a contingency plan in case baseball didn't work out. Fortunately for Scherzer, it did, but he doesn't regret going to college at the University of Missouri, telling Santana Moss on CSN's "Route 89" going to school was a no-brainer.

"It was actually a really easy decision," Scherzer told Moss. "When you get drafted out of high school, you're going to be going into the minor leagues, and that can take three to five or six years — multiple years — in the minor leagues, and you're forfeiting your right to further your education."

Scherzer was drafted in the 43rd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003, but he opted to play for Mizzou for three years, which turned out to be a great decision. The Arizona Diamondbacks then drafted him in 2006 in the first round as the 11th overall pick. 

"A lot of times when you sign out of high school, you don't make it to the major leagues," Scherzer continued. "So I realize that your education — that's your safety net.

"You need to further your education in college, and if you do get drafted out of college, you're in a much better position to try to chase your dreams because if it doesn't work out, you still have one year left of school and that's much easier to obtain rather than try to go through four years when you're not coming out of high school."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound