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The Baseball Page: May 27, 2012

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Brian McNally
NATIONALS report

Trying to make up for all the injuries

It's still going to be a tough summer in the run production department for the Nationals. There's just no way around that with Jayson Werth gone until after the All-Star break (broken wrist), Michael Morse still working his way back from a lat muscle strain and Wilson Ramos out for the year with an ACL tear. Rookie Bryce Harper has been as advertised, but those injuries might be too much to overcome for a team that was 24th in runs scored last season.
And yet if Morse returns to his old form -- he says he'll be back by June 8 -- there is hope for the Nationals. Adam LaRoche, who missed most of last year after shoulder surgery, has been excellent. Ian Desmond has taken the leap the organization hoped he would at the plate. And Harper has already matched Werth's production through about the same number of at-bats. What happens if he gets a little more experience? Ramos is the one that hurts. Even before his 2009 shoulder injury, Jesus Flores never topped a .700 OPS in a full season -- though he was at .877 through 29 games to start that season before getting hurt. Ramos was at .779 last year and poised to do better in 2012.

- Brian McNally

MLB STORYLINES

1

Yankees on the market? »

It's been almost 40 years since the New York Yankees were not owned by the Steinbrenner family. According to a report in the New York Daily News this week, that could change soon. George Steinbrenner, the legendary "Boss," died two years ago. But his sons, Hal and Hank, remain in charge. The report cited anonymous sources in writing that the Steinbrenners were exploring a sale. Hal Steinbrenner later called that report "pure fiction." Last year, Forbes valued the Yankees at $1.7 billion behind only the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and English soccer club Manchester United.

2No Pujols, no problem » Maybe life after Albert Pujols won't be so bad after all. The Cardinals lost their star first baseman after he signed a massive free agent contract with the Angels. And yet while Pujols struggles to find his way with Los Angeles, St. Louis had scored 243 runs entering Saturday's game. That ranked second overall and was 15 more than any other National League team and 28 more than the third-best offensive team in the league. With a pitching staff that still ranks in the middle-of-the-pack, it's amazing the Cardinals were trailing the first-place Reds at all.

3

AL Beast »

You know how conventional wisdom can become just a tired clich?? Yeah, well, the American League East is still the best division in baseball, and it isn't close. The last-place Red Sox entered the holiday weekend at .500. Even after a sluggish start, they were still better than 14 other big league clubs. The Yankees were just 4 ? games behind Baltimore for the division lead. Toronto appears on its way to a winning season again, and Tampa Bay is in prime position to make a run. The only time every team in a division finished .500 or better? The 2005 National League East when the Nationals were 81-81 and placed fifth.

- Brian McNally

WHO'S HOT?

1. Paul Konerko » At 36, he entered Saturday's game batting .381 with 10 homers and 10 doubles.

2. Jonathan Lucroy » Through 40 games he had a .990 OPS, second highest among catchers.

3. Wandy Rodriguez » With a 2.14 ERA, the lefty could be an intriguing trade option for the Astros.

WHO'S Not?

1. Jose Bautista » The Blue Jays slugger has 12 home runs and 31 RBI but a .231 batting average.

2. Tim Lincecum » The Giants' two-time Cy Young winner is 2-5 with a 6.41 ERA.

3. Matt Moore » The Rays' top prospect has not made the leap, having a 5.07 ERA on Memorial Day.

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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