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12/21/09 9:36 PM EST

Morgan, Burnett hope Capps joins Nats

Outfielder, relievers were teammates, friends in Pittsburgh

WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett made it clear on Monday that they want the club to sign free-agent reliever Matt Capps.

Both Morgan and Burnett know Capps well. As recently as last June, they were all teammates when they were with the Pirates. Morgan and Burnett said Capps is a great teammate and would help the Nationals' bullpen, which ranked 30th in ERA [5.09]. They also said Capps holds himself accountable whenever he has a not-so-stellar outing on the mound.

Capps, 26, has spent his entire five-year career with the Pirates, collecting 67 saves while posting a 3.61 ERA. He was non-tendered by Pittsburgh on Dec. 12. MLB.com reported last week that the Nationals are a finalist to acquire Capps.

"I love everything about the guy," Morgan said. "That guy is a winner. He has a bulldog mentality. He throws strikes and has been through adversity. He is a friend of mine, too. I have so many good things to say about the guy.

"If he came over to Washington, he would have the greatest opportunities. We are on the rise after getting Ivan Rodriguez. Matt is still young and can pick his brain."

"Capps is a great guy," Burnett said. "He is a competitor and a bulldog. He is going to give everything he has when he goes on the mound. The good thing is, he has a lot of experience closing ballgames at the big league level. That's crucial."

When reached by phone last week, Capps declined to talk about contract negotiations with any club, but he said he is interested in playing for the Nationals and impressed by how they have improved their roster by signing Rodriguez.

"They had a great offensive team [this past season]," Capps said. "If they put some pitching out there, they can play with anybody. I feel it would be a good situation and a good opportunity for me, personally.

"I already like the moves they already made in trying to be competitive next year and beyond. Ivan Rodriguez is a Hall of Fame catcher. To have the opportunity to throw to him and learn from him, I definitely think that is a big deal."

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