The PNats have location, location, location

A real estate agent learns quickly about the key to location, location location. The Potomac Nationals would make Mister Rogers proud with his “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood” as the PNats were conceived from the original 1978 Alexandria Dukes which came 10 years after Mister Rogers first television show. There was no professional affiliated baseball in those parts after the Washington Senators left. Who knew that one day MLB baseball would be back in Washington, D.C., and the Potomac Nationals would take over the affiliation in 2005 from the Potomac Cannons who were a Cincinnati Reds minor league affiliate.

Immediately, there was an important relationship due to the close proximity of the PNats stadium location, and the Washington Nationals could take advantage of that for any rehabbing players. The list is long of Nationals stars who have made appearances for the PNats, but also there has been the lengthy list of top prospects who have been regulars for the PNats and most recently the Nationals number 1 prospect, Victor Robles, was just promoted from there last month. Daniel Johnson and Jakson Reetz who are both top prospects were just promoted from the Low-A Hagerstown Suns to the PNats.

Last night, Pfitzner Stadium was sold-out with 7,563 fans and a lot of media. Erika Crawford officially represented TalkNats, and I just blended in the crowd as a fan who was just there for a few innings. Part of the big crowd was drawn originally because of the $1 grandstand ticket promotion and the $1 hot dogs even before they learned that Stephen Strasburg would make a rehab start there last night as he returned from a nerve impingement in his right elbow.

The PNats honored all of those $1 tickets and didn’t stop the promotion. Couple the Strasburg start with beautiful weather and a Nationals off-day and the bonus of $1 tickets and you got yourself a sell-out.

“It was a great night,” Bryan Holland, General Manager of Sales from the Potomac Nationals said. “We announced over 7,000 — a sellout!”

Strasburg didn’t disappoint as he threw from the “stretch” a 3-pitch arsenal of fastballs, changeups, and nasty curveballs. His fastball was clocked from 92-to-96, and all of his pitches were crisp. Strasburg had no scouting reports, and he just followed the lead of his catcher, Taylor Gushue. Sometimes these minor leaguers get their hits, and Conrad Gregor got Stras for a double which was one of the three hits given up by the Nationals All-Star. These rehab starts are really more about mechanical process and health — Strasburg let it be known he was just fine after his start. You almost got the feeling that Stras did not want to be there when he said afterwards these comments:

“I felt like I was ready to come back before this,” Strasburg said. “But they wanted to be conservative, so hopefully this was enough.”

It was revealed beforehand that Strasburg was only going to work a maximum of 5 innings and when he only threw 66 in the game he threw about 9 more in the bullpen to get to 75 pitches. The Nationals had a small staff at the game including Kyle Brostowitz  from the Nationals media department and director of player development Mark Scialabba who is at Nats minor league games all of the time. Bill Gluva from the Boras Corporation was also in the crowd.

Strasburg’s only true faux pas was his one free pass in the outing and it happened to be the dreaded lead-off walk to Nick Luvello, and as usually happens, those “LoW’s” tend to score, and Luvello stole home on one of those High School plays where the guy on 3rd base runs for home if the catcher throws down to 2nd base to throw out the runner stealing from 1st base. Yes, it’s interesting the people you meet in your neighborhood. Nick Luvello is the son of Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Luvello.

The good news is that was the only run surrendered by Strasburg to keep the game close and Strasburg got a no-decision while the PNats scored 3 in the game to win 3-2 as Sterling Sharp went 4 innings to earn the win.

The next we should see Strasburg will be this weekend in his hometown San Diego pitching against the Padres. For the Potomac Nationals, they should have Jayson Werth headed there this week according to my conversation with Jayson he said he would be doing rehab games at Potomac and with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.

The Potomac Nationals just had Michael Taylor a week ago for rehab games, and after Jayson Werth, don’t be surprised if they have Trea Turner and Bryce Harper. When I spoke to Trea Turner over the weekend he said he would be heading back to West Palm Beach later this week to start his rehab and he expected to swing the bat.

On August 18th, former Nat Mike O’Connor will not be rehabbing with the Potomac Nationals however he was invited to throw-out the ceremonial first pitch.

“Excited to let everyone know that I am going to throw out the first pitch at the Potomac Nationals,” O’Connor said. “I pitched there in 2005 and it was a big year for me. It put me on the map to get called up with the Nats in 2006.”

For the PNats, these are the people in their neighborhood.

[Erika Crawford also contributed to this article]
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