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01/06/11 12:37 AM EST

MASN close to naming analyst for Nats games

WASHINGTON -- The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is expected to select its TV analyst for Nationals games soon, according to three baseball sources. An announcement could come as early as this week.

Ray Knight, F.P. Santangelo and Joe Magrane are among the candidates for the job. One person familiar with the situation went so far as to say that Santangelo and Magrane are among the finalists. At least 35 people applied for the job.

MASN and the Nationals have been looking for a permanent analyst since Sept. 1, when Rob Dibble was relieved of his duties for making critical remarks about right-hander Stephen Strasburg. On his Sirius XM Radio show, Dibble criticized Strasburg -- who underwent Tommy John surgery -- for not playing through injuries. According to a baseball source, the team was upset by the comments.

In late August, it was announced that Dibble was scheduled to take time off and return a few days later, but he never returned.

Knight replaced Dibble on an interim basis and indicated that he would like to keep the job full time. There is a possibility that Knight could go back to doing the pregame and postgame shows on MASN with Johnny Holliday.

Santangelo is considered an excellent radio personality on KNBR in San Francisco and has done fill-in work during Giants games. One source said Santangelo credits Giants announcers Jon Miller, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow and Dave Fleming for his success in the booth.

Santangelo was also a popular figure in a baseball uniform. The former outfielder/infielder played seven years in the big leagues and is best known for his years with the Expos.

Magrane, a former pitcher with the Cardinals, Angels and White Sox, is currently an analyst for MLB Network. Magrane was also a member of the Rays' broadcast team, working as a color analyst from 1998-2009.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.