Nationals Notebook

Despite Record, Riggleman Says He Isn't Ready to Throw in the Towel

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 10, 2009

Despite a team cemented in last place and a roster loaded with new faces, Jim Riggleman has managed the Washington Nationals this month with a style that belies those circumstances. He will continue to, he said on Wednesday. September will not double as a stage for auditions. The Nationals, most nights, will be governed by Riggleman's win-tonight philosophy, and as such, he'll stick with the regulars who've won this season only sparingly.

"I think that's what you're supposed to do," Riggleman said. "That's competition. When we play baseball, we're supposed to try to win. Last year in Seattle, we were trying to win. We weren't just trying to play it out and draft Steve Strasburg next year. We were trying to win games. I think that if I'm a paying fan, I want to see a team trying to win. I want a manager trying to win."

Riggleman, speaking at length about his end-of-the-season managing style, noted several obligations. He feels an obligation to veterans who have been with him all season. He feels an obligation to finish the season strong, though he stopped short of mentioning his own tenuous status as interim manager. He also feels an obligation to opposing clubs, especially those fighting for playoff spots.

"If I send a message to the ballclub that we're gonna put our Class AAA call-ups out there on a daily basis to see what they can do, first of all, as I said, it's not a good time to evaluate talent," Riggleman said. "Who do you do it against? Do you do it against the Phillies? I think we would be insulting the Marlins and the Braves, who are chasing the Phillies. Do you do it just against the Braves but not against the Phillies?"

Storen, Strasburg Meet

Three months ago, Drew Storen was drafted in the first round (10th overall). Since signing with the Nationals, the right-handed relief pitcher has played at three minor league levels, compiled a 1.95 ERA (eight walks, 49 strikeouts) and earned a spot in the October Arizona Fall League.

But until Tuesday, there was one thing Storen hadn't done.

Which is why he made a special trip to Nationals Park.

"I wanted to meet [Stephen] Strasburg," Storen said, grinning.

"It was awesome," Storen said. "I had never met him. I had only seen every clip on ESPN about him. And it was nice to meet him and kind of catch up with him. He had some questions about what minor league baseball is like; I don't think he'll ever find out what it's like, so I told him some stories. I told him about the bus rides and all that."

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