Nationals land closer Melancon from Pirates

Nationals land closer Melancon from Pirates

The Nationals addressed their struggling bullpen Saturday by acquiring right-hander Mark Melancon from the Pirates, sources tell MLB.com's Adam Berry and Bill Ladson. 

Neither club has confirmed the deal.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats slay Giant threat with historic triple play

Nats slay Giant threat with historic triple play

SAN FRANCISCO -- In order to escape a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the eighth inning Friday night, the Nationals pulled off a historic triple play to help seal a 4-1 victory against the Giants.

The first triple play in Nationals history started when Brandon Crawford hit a line drive off left-hander Sammy Solis. The ball was caught by Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on first base for the second out and then fired to Anthony Rendon at third base to catch Denard Span too far down the line and end the inning.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats get by with 'all hands' bullpen approach

Nats get by with 'all hands' bullpen approach

SAN FRANCISCO -- To secure the final six outs in the Nationals' 4-1 victory Friday night, manager Dusty Baker needed to use five relievers and get the benefit of the first triple play in franchise history.

Such is the fragile state of Washington's bullpen, at one point during the season considered one of their strengths but now a glaring weakness for this first-place club. After seven strong innings from right-hander Max Scherzer, the Nationals used Oliver Perez, Blake Treinen, Sammy Solis, Felipe Rivero and Shawn Kelley to close out the victory.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats back Max, turn triple play to hold off SF

Nats back Max, turn triple play to hold off SF

SAN FRANCISCO -- Max Scherzer controlled a reeling Giants offense for seven innings before the Washington bullpen got out of a bases-loaded jam via a wild triple play in the eighth as the Nationals beat San Francisco, 4-1, at AT&T Park on Friday night.

Washington's relief pitchers lacked the same command as its starter, and the Giants quickly loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth. However, Sammy Solis got Brandon Crawford to line out to Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on first base for the second out and threw to third base to catch Denard Span too far up the line to end the inning. It was the first triple play the Nationals turned in franchise history and the first 3-3-5 triple play ever.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Murphy exits early as precaution vs. Giants

Nationals 2B pulled after legs tighten on chilly night

Murphy exits early as precaution vs. Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Daniel Murphy was pulled in the fifth inning of Friday night's 4-1 win over the Giants after his legs tighten up on a chilly night in San Francisco.

Murphy also felt his legs tighten the previous night, so manager Dusty Baker wanted to exercise caution and take him out of the game.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

As Deadline nears, Nats in need of 'pen help

As Deadline nears, Nats in need of 'pen help

WASHINGTON -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline is Monday at 4 p.m. ET and the Nationals are still looking for bullpen help. Their closer, Jonathan Papelbon, has been in a serious slump. In his last three games, Papelbon has allowed seven earned runs in a total of one inning, while his ERA has climbed from 2.56 to 4.41.

The Nationals tried hard to land Aroldis Chapman, but they were unwilling to trade top prospects such as Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner or Victor Robles. The Yankees ended up trading the hard-throwing left-hander to the Cubs.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lopez gets callup for matchup with Giants

Lopez gets callup for matchup with Giants

The home run has victimized Giants pitcher Jake Peavy since the All-Star break. The right-hander has allowed just seven hits in his last two starts, but five of those have shots that cleared the fence.

It's why a matchup against the Washington Nationals Saturday at AT&T Park doesn't bode particularly well for Peavy. The Nationals, winners of three straight, rank second in the National League in home runs with 138. Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper each have 20.

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Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper to appear on MLB Network's 'Play Ball'

Harper to appear on MLB Network's 'Play Ball'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bryce Harper will be featured on this week's edition of "Play Ball," a weekly children's show on MLB Network that features one-on-one baseball demonstrations and conversations with some of the biggest stars and personalities in baseball. The segment will air Saturday morning at 10 a.m. ET.

Harper filmed the segment last month at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Washington, and it will highlight his interactions with the scholar athletes and include a special appearance by third baseman Anthony Rendon.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals recall Severino, place Lobaton on DL

Nationals recall Severino, place Lobaton on DL

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have recalled catcher Pedro Severino from Triple-A Syracuse and placed catcher Jose Lobaton on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to July 20) with left elbow tendonitis, the club announced Friday.

Lobaton has been dealing with the issue since Spring Training, and the pain got so bad he needed a cortisone shot last month. The shot cleared the pain for a bit, but it recently returned and he was not cleared to receive another shot. When he found out he was scheduled to play on Saturday afternoon, he said the pain was too severe for him to catch.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats survive Giants' ninth-inning rally

Nats survive Giants' ninth-inning rally

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thanks to a three-run second inning against Johnny Cueto, the Nationals took a three-run lead into the ninth, but the Giants didn't go quietly and chased closer Jonathan Papelbon before Washington was able to lock down a 4-2 series-opening win on Thursday night at AT&T Park.

The Nationals used RBI base hits from Danny Espinosa, Tanner Roark and Trea Turner to post their early three-spot, and Bryce Harper snapped his 0-for-19 skid with an RBI double in the sixth to make it 4-1. That was enough support for Roark to pick up his 10th win, as the right-hander held the Giants to one run on four hits in seven innings.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area who covered the Giants on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats have 3 of top 17 prospects in midseason rankings

Giolito leads way at fourth overall in MLB Pipeline's updated Top 100

Nats have 3 of top 17 prospects in midseason rankings

SAN FRANCISCO -- Building a strong farm system is primarily the way Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has built his team into a perennial contender, one that is currently leading the National League East, which would be its third division title in five seasons.

And Washington continues to boast one of the top farm systems in baseball, with three of the top 17 players on MLBPipeline.com's Midseason Top 100 Prospects list. The Nationals own the highest ranking trio, with Lucas Giolito (down from the top spot to No.4), shortstop Trea Turner (No.11) and outfielder Victor Robles (No.17). Reynaldo Lopez and Erick Fedde round out the members of the organization on the list at Nos. 49 and 92, respectively.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wiseman among top prospect performers Thursday

Rockies catcher continues torrid month; Yankees' first-round pick hitting .429 at Pulaski

Wiseman among top prospect performers Thursday

Tom Murphy is likely hoping July never ends considering the Rockies' No. 11 prospect has raised his batting average over 100 points in 16 games so far this month.

Murphy went 3-for-4 with a homer, three RBIs and two runs scored in Triple-A Albuquerque's 8-3 win over Salt Lake.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Returning to form, Stras plays role of stopper

Nats ace blanks Tribe for seven, gives 'pen a break

Returning to form, Stras plays role of stopper

CLEVELAND -- Part of the unofficial job description of being an ace is to serve as a stopper when a team endures any sort of skid. So the Nationals, having dropped six of their past eight games, needed a strong outing from Stephen Strasburg.

"That's his job," manager Dusty Baker said before the game. "They didn't give him all that cash to just be so-so, and he has been earning his money. I don't see why it will be any different today."

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Turner, Murphy aid gem by Stras, who's 14-1

Turner, Murphy aid gem by Stras, who's 14-1

CLEVELAND -- In the aftermath of a second consecutive blown save, the Nationals needed a strong showing from starter Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander delivered, stifling the Indians in a 4-1 win Wednesday afternoon to split the two-game Interleague set at Progressive Field.

Strasburg (14-1) spun seven scoreless frames and allowed just three hits, including two by Jose Ramirez. Strasburg whiffed seven and walked just two, bouncing back from his previous outing, in which he allowed six runs on seven hits.

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Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

10 potential bullpen upgrades for Nationals

10 potential bullpen upgrades for Nationals

Dusty Baker knows Aroldis Chapman, respects Chapman and, yes, wanted Chapman.

Baker called the closer's move from the Bronx to the North Side of Chicago "disappointing," because if there's one element from Baker's Cincinnati experience that he'd love to apply to this Nationals team that, according to FanGraphs' calculations, has a nearly 90-percent chance of nailing down the National League East, it's the ability to call upon a reliable 100-mph-tossing weapon in the ninth and call it a night.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats place Drew on DL, recall prospect Difo

Nats place Drew on DL, recall prospect Difo

CLEVELAND -- The Nationals initially believed Stephen Drew was just battling a bad case of the flu, however, his condition barely improved during the past week. His body and stomach had improved, but his head continued to feel dizzy.

Drew initially feared a concussion, although he had not suffered any shots to the head lately. The Nationals finally placed Drew on the disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to Sunday, with vertigo-like symptoms. He will not join the club in San Francisco, but instead travel back to Washington for further evaluation.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Papelbon, Nats can't finish off Tribe, fall on walk-off

Papelbon, Nats can't finish off Tribe, fall on walk-off

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona paid the Nationals the ultimate compliment before Tuesday's game, saying Washington is "built for October baseball." In the opener of this series between potential postseason teams, the Indians looked like they fit that description as well, pulling off a 7-6 walk-off win at Progressive Field.

Francisco Lindor finished off Washington in the bottom of the ninth with a one-out single through the right side of the infield, scoring Chris Gimenez from third base to set off an on-field celebration. Lindor pumped his arms as he skipped up the first-base line, as fireworks popped overhead. Cleveland now has five walk-off wins this year, and has won 15 of its last 19 home games.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals give rookie Turner chance in center

Nationals give rookie Turner chance in center

CLEVELAND -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker had been initially reluctant to start Trea Turner in center field. After all, Turner's experience there was limited after spending much of the season in the Minors playing shortstop and second base. He received a crash course on the position from Nationals outfielder instructor Gary Thurman, and played six games in center field at Triple-A Syracuse.

Even during the past week with the Major League club, Turner has spent time working in the outfield, and Baker, trusting the reports he receives, finally deemed that the young speedster was ready. Turner made his first start in center field in Tuesday night's 7-6 loss to the Indians.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strong after rehab start, Ross needs more time

Strong after rehab start, Ross needs more time

CLEVELAND -- Fresh off his first Minor League rehab outing, Joe Ross joined the Nationals on Tuesday, feeling strong as he nears a potential return.

Ross threw 43 pitches in three scoreless innings for Class A Hagerstown on Sunday. He used the outing primarily to work on his changeup, command and a small mechanical tweak that could help prevent his right shoulder inflammation from recurring.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats running wild thanks to Lopes

Washington is eighth in Majors with 67 steals, with help of veteran coach

Nats running wild thanks to Lopes

WASHINGTON -- In the third inning of the Nationals' win on July 16 over the Pirates, Danny Espinosa timed Pittsburgh righty Gerrit Cole's delivery and took off for third base, sliding in ahead of the tag for his sixth stolen base of the year.

The extra base didn't end up mattering to the score of the game -- the next two batters struck out to end the inning -- but it carried symbolic relevance nonetheless: It was the Nats' 57th steal of the season, tying their output for 2015.

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Giolito sent back to Minors to work on command

Baseball's top prospect chased in 4th inning during 3rd MLB start

Giolito sent back to Minors to work on command

WASHINGTON -- When the Nationals sent Lucas Giolito to the Minors after his last Major League start, they pointed to the fact that he would need more work on his offspeed pitches.

Those same troubles plagued Giolito, baseball's No. 1 prospect accoring to MLBPipeline.com, on Sunday afternoon during a 10-6 loss to the Padres at Nationals Park. He could not throw his curveball and changeup consistently for strikes, and Padres hitters were able to hone in on his fastball. It forced Washington to remove Giolito from the game with one out in the fourth, after he allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with three walks.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Griffey's sweet swing, personality resonate with Harper

Griffey's sweet swing, personality resonate with Harper

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper was just like so many other children who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s and mimicked Ken Griffey Jr.'s swing while playing ball in the yard.

It's part of what stood out to Harper about Griffey, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday afternoon along with Mike Piazza.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals option Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse

Nationals option Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse

WASHINGTON -- After Sunday's 10-6 loss to the Padres, the Nationals optioned outfielder Michael Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse.

Taylor has had problems making contact this season. In 66 games, Taylor is hitting .222 with seven home runs, 14 RBIs and has struck out 70 times in 207 at-bats. Taylor has a weakness for going after breaking balls and high fastballs.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lopez among top prospect performers Sunday

Nationals' No. 5 prospect hurls his first shutout following big league debt

Lopez among top prospect performers Sunday

Reynaldo Lopez is eager to get back to the big leagues.

In his first start since debuting with the Nationals on July 19, Lopez recorded his first shutout on Sunday as Triple-A Syracuse defeated Rochester, 6-0. The Nationals' No. 5 prospect scattered four hits and struck out seven in nine dominant innings, throwing 69 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmerman, Solis activated from disabled list

First baseman was out since July 6 with left rib cage strain

Zimmerman, Solis activated from disabled list

WASHINGTON -- After playing three rehab games for Class A Potomac, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman had the day off on Sunday. However, he traveled with the Nationals to Cleveland after Sunday's game against the Padres and was activated in time to play in Tuesday's game against the Indians.

Left-hander Sammy Solis was also activated from the DL on Tuesday.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats lose late lead, drop slugfest to Padres

Nats lose late lead, drop slugfest to Padres

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Padres found themselves in a slugfest on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. When it was over, the Padres outslugged the Nationals, 10-6.

Tied 6-6 after eight innings, the Padres scored four runs in the ninth off Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon. Yangervis Solarte broke the tie with an RBI single, and Alexei Ramirez broke the game open with a three-run double.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can also be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com. He covered the Padres on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Triple threat! Drew, Nats walk off on Padres

Triple threat! Drew, Nats walk off on Padres

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Drew had been battling an illness that prevented him from taking an at-bat since Sunday before he roped a walk-off, pinch-hit triple in the ninth inning to lead the Nationals to a 3-2 victory over the Padres on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

It capped off a week where Drew dropped at least seven pounds and received IV fluids earlier in the day Saturday before coming through with Washington's sixth walk-off hit of the season off Padres right-hander Kevin Quackenbush.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Padres on Saturday

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Super sick' Drew strong enough to be a hero

Infielder shakes off illness to deliver walk-off hit vs. Padres

'Super sick' Drew strong enough to be a hero

WASHINGTON -- Nobody knew if Stephen Drew was strong enough to pinch hit. Over the last three days, he had a bad case of the flu and was unavailable to do anything on the baseball field until Saturday night, and it was big.

His pinch-hit, walk-off triple in the ninth inning gave the Nationals a 3-2 win over the Padres at Nationals Park.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats fall on rare off night from Roark

Nats fall on rare off night from Roark

WASHINGTON -- During the past week, Matt Kemp has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. He launched a pair of homers and drove in four runs Friday night at Nationals Park to help lead the Padres to a 5-3 victory over the Nationals, who have lost four of their last five.

Kemp got the Padres on the board with a solo homer in the first inning off right-hander Tanner Roark, and increased San Diego's streak of consecutive games with a homer to 20, extending a franchise record. It was the first homer Roark had surrendered since June 21, a streak of 32 innings.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. He covered the Padres on Friday

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baker: Changes needed to fix Nats' RISP struggles

Washington held to two runs in Friday's loss to Padres

Baker: Changes needed to fix Nats' RISP struggles

WASHINGTON -- For much of this season, Nationals manager Dusty Baker has bemoaned his team's approach in crucial situations, particularly their seeming inability to collect a two-out hit. His latest and perhaps strongest statement on his team's approach came after Friday night's 5-3 loss to the Padres, Washington's fourth loss in five games.

"At this stage of the game, almost two-thirds of the season gone, we've got to make some changes," Baker said. "We've been waiting and waiting and waiting, and it's getting frustrating on the guys and frustrating on fans and frustrating to us, too. You had to be patient and you hope that we make some changes and some theories and philosophies and getting a good pitch to hit."

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.