03/03/2013 11:39 AM ET
Perez added to Dominican Republic team
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals will soon send another outfielder to the World Baseball Classic, as Eury Perez has been selected to join the Dominican Republic squad.
According to the Dominican team's Twitter account, Perez was added in place of Melky Mesa, who opted to remain in Yankees camp. The announcement came shortly after Perez and the Nationals wrapped up a 6-2 win against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., on Saturday.
Perez will take batting practice with the club in Viera on Sunday, then leave to join the Dominican team on Monday.
The Nationals are already short an outfielder since Roger Bernadina left last week to play for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but Washington has plenty of depth in the outfield, with Tyler Moore and Corey Brown among those most likely to get more reps in the coming weeks behind Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth.
Perez, 22, made his big league debut last season, getting five plate appearances in 13 games as a September callup. He went 1-for-5 (.200) with three runs and three stolen bases last year. This spring, he is is 7-for-20 (.350) with two stolen bases and five strikeouts in seven Grapefruit League games.
"I tried to get him as ready as good as I could," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He's got more at-bats than anybody. … I think he's done good. He's a good young hitter with talent, good young player. It's all him learning about himself. I think this has been a great experience for him, as was last year. He had a good year in Triple-A, but he's still got a higher ceiling."
The Dominican team opens its World Baseball Classic slate on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET against Venezuela in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in a game that can be watched live on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes.
The first round of the pool, which also includes Puerto Rico and Spain, ends March 10. The top two teams will advance to the second round in Miami. That pool would include Team USA, should the Americans advance.
Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez are on the Team USA roster, though Gonzalez will only join the squad if it advances to the second round.
Gio pleased with progress after second start
JUPITER, Fla. -- In his penultimate outing before leaving the Nationals for the World Baseball Classic, Gio Gonzalez was pleased with his fastball command against the Cardinals, but he said his offspeed stuff still needs fine-tuning.
Gonzalez faced the Cardinals for the first time since Game 5 of the National League Division Series in Washington last fall, when he gave up three earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out four in five innings of a game the Nationals lost in the ninth, 9-7.
"It's good to see some familiar faces," Gonzalez said. "These guys, they're all nice guys off the field. They're great guys on the field, same thing. They're competitors, just like we are. I'm pretty sure they were thinking the same way, just go out there and try and attack the strike zone and swing the bat. Same thing we're trying to do. It's Spring Training. There's no rivalry yet."
Gonzalez gave up runs in the first and third innings on Saturday, scattering five hits and one walk over three frames. He threw 52 pitches, 31 for strikes and did not record a strikeout. It was only the second time since Gonzalez reached the big leagues in 2008 -- including Spring Training and the postseason -- that Gonzalez made an appearance and did not record a strikeout. The other outing was Sept. 23, 2008, a one-inning relief appearance against the Rangers.
"He really didn't have a good feel for the ball because it was a little chilly," manager Davey Johnson said. "All the balls felt a little slick to him, so he didn't mix in hardly any breaking balls until I think the last hitter. But I thought he threw the ball well. That's a good-hitting ballclub, so he got his work in."
While Team USA is gathering for the opening round of the Classic this week, Gonzalez will make one more start with the Nationals -- March 7 vs. Houston -- before heading to Miami, should the Americans advance from the first round of pool play. He's on the USA roster, but wasn't slated to make a start until Round 2.
"Just again, try to attack the strike zone, just hopefully adjust to this weather out here," Gonzalez said of his approach for his third start. "It's kind of windy out there. But other than that, just work on little things, making adjustments, trying to find my arm slot, staying back picking up the target. Regular things that we work on in the bullpen and try to bring it into the game."
Bernadina knocks in two in Netherlands' win
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina helped lead The Netherlands to a 5-0 upset win over Korea in its first game of the World Baseball Classic on Saturday in Taichung, Taiwan.
Bernadina had a double with two RBIs and scored a run while hitting from the No. 3 spot. He played the entire game in center field.
The Korean team was runner-up to Japan in 2009 during the last Classic, while The Netherlands surprised, twice beating the Dominican Republic to emerge from pool play.
The Nationals have two other players -- Minor Leaguers Robbie Cordemans and Randolph Oduber -- also playing for the Dutch, though neither of them saw action on Saturday. Bernadina is one of a handful of talented bench players expected to contribute for the Nats this season.
In other World Baseball Classic news, former Washington pitcher Chien-Ming Wang threw six shutout innings for Chinese Taipei in its 4-1 win against Australia.
Wang battled hip and hamstring issues while with the Nationals last season, finishing with a 2-3 record and 6.68 ERA in 10 games (five starts). He has spent the last two seasons with the Nats, but hasn't signed with a Major League club for 2013.
"He had the arm strength last year, he was just having a little difficult picking the right slot and getting the ball consistently down," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I know he's a hard worker."
• Johnson said catcher Wilson Ramos, who is recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee, will practice sliding at the Nationals' facility in Viera, Fla., on Saturday, his final obstacle before returning to game action. Johnson had hoped that Ramos would slide earlier in the week, but if Ramos can clear the final hurdle, he should be in the lineup as a designated hitter soon.
• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday against the Cardinals. He is expected to DH. Zimmerman has started throwing, but his recovery from shoulder surgery will keep him off the hot corner a bit longer.
• Will Ohman, signed to a Minor League contract, is also expected to make his first game appearance on Sunday.
• Rafael Soriano will throw a live bullpen session in Viera on Saturday, and is expected to appear in a game for the first time on Tuesday.