08/15/10 6:55 PM ET
Strasburg: Harper doesn't need my advice
Deadline nears for No. 1 overall pick to sign with Nationals
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Last year's first-round pick, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, said Harper doesn't need his advice when it comes to signing with the Nationals.
"If he wants to play here, then he is going to play here," Strasburg said. "He doesn't need any advice from anybody. You don't need to convince him otherwise. If he doesn't want to play here, then we don't want him here -- bottom line. We want guys who want to play on this team. It's really important."
Strasburg's agent is Scott Boras, who is also advising Harper during the negotiations.
Marquis likely to start next weekend
WASHINGTON -- After allowing seven earned runs in eight-plus innings since being activated from the disabled list last Sunday, Nationals right-hander Jason Marquis most likely will make his next start against the Phillies next weekend at Citizens Bank Park.
However, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman didn't rule out changing his mind and putting somebody else in Marquis' spot. The skipper pointed out that he hasn't talked to general manager Mike Rizzo and pitching coach Steve McCatty about Marquis, who lost his fifth game of the season on Saturday against the D-backs.
"There are few things to take in consideration," Riggleman said. "We have the off-day on Monday. We have a couple of guys [in the Minors] who may join us next week. We may make that closer to 10 or 12 days from now when they join us. That will have an impact on the decision, too."
The two pitchers Riggleman was referring to are right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Yunesky Maya. Zimmermann is currently in Triple-A Syracuse. Entering Sunday's action, Zimmermann, who spent most of this season on the disabled list after elbow reconstruction, has pitched in eight Minor League games and is 0-2 with a 1.82 ERA. Zimmermann has been projected to return to the Major Leagues sometime in August.
Maya, who signed with the club late last month, made his professional debut in the Nationals' organization Friday, pitching three shutout innings for the Gulf Cost Nationals. Riggleman wasn't sure when Maya will move up in the Minor League ranks.
Willingham continues to play through pain
WASHINGTON -- Although he has been hampered by a knee injury and is clearly limping on the bases and in the outfield, Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham was able to play in his third consecutive game on Sunday.
Manager Jim Riggleman doesn't appear to be worried about his player, who is affectionately known as Hammer.
"I talk to him every day," Riggleman said. "I ask, 'How do you feel?' He says, 'I'm good. There's no change. It's not better, it's not worse. It is what it is.' I thought he had couple of real good at-bats last night."
Willingham denied a published report that he has a torn left knee meniscus. The Nationals found something degenerative in the knee, but it has not been determined if the knee is torn.
Riggleman said he believes the knee injury was aggravated during the last homestand when Willingham slid awkwardly into a base.