9/15/2013 7:58 P.M. ET
Wounded Warriors the real stars in Softball Classic
By Tom Schad / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Josh Wege is a No. 2 hitter. A speed guy. He has been with his current team for more than 2 1/2 years, traveling to 27 states and 58 cities to play roughly 100 games a year.
He also happens to be a double-amputee.
A Marine Corps veteran and baseball fanatic, Wege is one of nearly two dozen members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. The 23-year-old and his teammates tour the country playing exhibitions, celebrity games and competitive tournaments.
After the Nationals' 11-2 win over the Phillies Sunday afternoon, the Wounded Warriors played with Nationals' coaches, players' wives, broadcasters and assorted celebrities in the third annual Wounded Warrior Softball Classic.
Brian Dietzan of CBS' 'NCIS', Sakina Jaffrey of Netflix's 'House of Cards', Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky and NBC's Luke Russert were among the game's participants. But the real celebrities were veterans like Wege.
"It's pretty much a comeback story," said Wege, who hit an inside the park home run in Sunday's game. "That's what we are. We're coming back, going from the battlefield to the ballfield. That's what we do."
At the center of the Wounded Warriors program is general manager David Van Sleet, an avid softball player and Army veteran who spent 30 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs. During his time there, he regularly worked with prosthetics and saw the athleticism of injured soldiers. The idea to form a Wounded Warrior softball team came naturally.
"It's changed their lives. It's changed my life. It inspires people," Van Sleet said. "They've recovered and gone on. I can't say that's the case for all veterans and active duty soldiers, but for our guys, they've done a good turn."
The group consists of players from around the country, mostly Army and Marine Corps veterans. Van Sleet hand-picked the team, which played its first game in March 2011. Wege was among the original members.
Raised in Campbellsport, Wisc., Wege was a three-sport athlete in high school, though he was always particularly drawn to baseball. He enlisted as a Marine after his high school graduation in 2008 and was in Afghanistan by 2009. While there, he rolled over a 200-pound improvised explosive device in a light-armored vehicle. Wege lost both his legs below the knee.
"Yeah, it's a bad thing," Wege said. "But you look at the situation I'm in now, you make lemonade out of lemons. You look at the glass half-full or half-empty, however you want to do it."
When Wege heard about the Wounded Warrior softball team, he said he was one of the first people to sign up.
"The kid is a stud," Van Sleet said. "He can play any position on this softball field. Any position. He would've been something if he hadn't gotten hurt."
Less than five years after losing his legs, Wege counts himself as blessed. He travels the country year-round playing softball, exploring new cities and inspiring people. Like Major League baseball, the schedule can be a grind. But Wege loves every minute of it.
"You get back and all you really want to do is get your life back, and then you get opportunities like this to come out and play," Wege said. "We get a second chance to be athletes, and I definitely don't take that for granted."
Span pushes hitting streak to 26 games with single
WASHINGTON -- With his single up the middle in the third inning of Sunday's game against the Phillies, Nationals center fielder Denard Span extended his career-best hitting streak to 26 games.
Span holds the second-longest hitting streak in the Major Leagues this season. With a hit in his next game, he will match the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer, who had a 27-game hitting streak earlier this season.
When asked if the hitting streak has changed his approach at the plate, Span said that it varies from day to day.
"I think it depends on how I'm feeling, how my swing's feeling," Span said. "Even though I've had this long streak, every day I haven't felt good at the plate. It just may depend on how I'm feeling before the game is starting, whether my BP or my cagework. It just varies from day to day."
Span owns the second-longest hitting streak in Nationals history. Ryan Zimmerman had a 30-game streak in 2009.
Span entered the game with a .387 average, five doubles, two triples and two home runs during the streak, which began Aug. 17.
Ramos sets longest streak behind plate in '13
WASHINGTON -- Wilson Ramos made his 23rd consecutive start Sunday against the Phillies, the longest streak by any Major League catcher this season. Yadier Molina started 22 straight games for the Cardinals early in the season.
The feat is particularly impressive considering Ramos' recent injury history. The 26-year-old was out for nearly the entire 2012 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He also missed 58 games in the first half of this season, twice landing on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
While he was not trying to break any records, Ramos said that the streak is a good sign that he is both playing well and staying healthy.
"It's not easy," Ramos said. "It's not easy catching 22 games in a row. That made me feel good because now I know my knee and hamstring is good."
The Major League record for consecutive starts at catcher is 312, set by Frankie Hayes in the 1940s. When told of that record and asked if he would like to catch it, Ramos smiled and shook his head.
"Not for me," he said. "After today, I may rest."
Krol working through first rough patch of career
WASHINGTON -- Nationals reliever Ian Krol can't explain it.
In his first 15 innings in the Major Leagues, the left-hander had a 1.80 ERA with 13 strikeouts and one walk. In his past 12 innings, he has a 6.75 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.14.
"There's nothing I can really say to explain how the last two months have gone," Krol said Sunday. "I go out there, I give it my all, do my best, listen to my catcher, throw what he wants me to throw, throw my pitches with conviction, and I haven't been so fortunate lately. And everybody will tell you in this locker room you'll go through times like that."
Krol faced two batters in Saturday night's 5-4 loss to the Phillies and surrendered what would prove to be the deciding run. He allowed a double to Jimmy Rollins, who advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Chase Utley.
After throwing two fastballs past Rollins, Krol followed the suggestion of catcher Wilson Ramos and threw a changeup. Manager Davey Johnson said he would have liked to see Krol shake off Ramos and throw another fastball in that situation.
"He's still young. I don't think he knows what he wants to do," Johnson said. "He just relies on the catcher. But he's got a good arm, he's got good stuff. He'll put it all together."
Said Krol: "I was shaking off quite a bit and I had some success with it, but then I went through a short spurt where I would shake off and I would throw the wrong pitch. Ramos is a great catcher, he calls a great game and I trust him. It's my part to make sure I execute the pitch."
• After missing his scheduled start on Friday with right forearm tightness, Stephen Strasburg played catch from 120 feet on Sunday. He is still on track to throw a bullpen session Monday afternoon, according to Johnson.
"He's fine," Johnson said. "Felt really good."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.