Hanrahan Hopes to End Discussion

By Marc Carig and Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 19, 2008

Washington Nationals Manager Manny Acta said that Joel Hanrahan's role for next season is far from decided. But the hard-throwing right-hander made perhaps his strongest case yet for keeping the closer's job next season.

Hanrahan offered another glimpse of his potential on Tuesday, when he retired the New York Mets in order to record his ninth save of the season. Despite facing the heart of the Mets' order, Hanrahan needed just 17 pitches to get through the inning, which included strikeouts of David Wright and Carlos Delgado.

"He has gone through middle of the lineups at times when he's throwing strikes and dominating them either with a fastball, or the slider, or with both," General Manager Jim Bowden said. "He's dominated the big boys. The potential is certainly there."

Acta said he was most impressed with the aggressiveness Hanrahan showed. Since taking over as the closer upon Jon Rauch's departure, Hanrahan has thrown mostly fastballs and sliders. Against the Mets on Tuesday, Acta said Hanrahan's fastball was in the mid-90s.

Eye on Syracuse

Principal owner Mark Lerner, President Stan Kasten and Bowden toured the facilities of the Syracuse Chiefs yesterday and discussed the potential relocation of their Class AAA team.

Washington will likely know its fate toward the end of the weekend. Syracuse officials tomorrow will give a similar tour to the Florida Marlins, who are also looking to relocate.

Washington had been affiliated with Columbus, which yesterday signed a deal with the Indians. The Nationals believe that Syracuse makes sense because the city is along Interstate 81, same as Harrisburg, Pa., the Class AA affiliate. Also, the Chiefs play in the International League, which would required less travel than the Pacific Coast League. Other potential landing spots for a Washington affiliate participate in the PCL. . . .

The Nationals on Thursday signed a pair of two-year deals to extend their relationships with two of their Class A affiliates, Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League and Vermont of the short-season New York-Penn League.

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