4/25/2014 11:32 P.M. ET
Nats happy with ball-transfer rule clarification
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Major League Baseball announced on Friday that the ball-transfer rule will be enforced, which means if a player catches the ball and drops it while trying to throw to another base, it is still considered a catch.
Before Friday, a defender had to secure the ball all the way until act of throwing.
Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is happy the rule has been clarified. In the fourth inning of an 8-0 loss to the Cardinals on April 17, Adam Wainwright hit a ground ball to shortstop Ian Desmond, who threw to Espinosa for the force at second. It looked like Espinosa caught the ball, but he dropped it as he was throwing to first base. The umpire ruled that Espinosa did not make the out at second. Jhonny Peralta scored on the play and Espinosa was charged with an error.
"I would like it if they took that error away, but they can't do it," Espinosa said. "I'm happy that it's gone, though."
With a runner on second base in the top of the ninth inning Wednesday, Angels outfielder Raul Ibanez hit a line drive to first baseman Adam LaRoche, who caught the ball but he dropped it as he was trying to double off David Freese at second base. The umpire ruled that LaRoche dropped the ball, and he was charged with an error.
"It's about time," LaRoche said of the rule interpretation. "I think they found out very quickly that it was going to cause a lot more problems than anything else. It's good to know."
Harper day to day after jamming left thumb
WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper exited Friday's 11-1 victory over the Padres after four innings with a jammed left thumb.
X-rays on Harper's thumb were negative, and manager Matt Williams said the outfielder will be re-evaluated Saturday.
In the bottom of the fourth inning and the bases loaded, Harper hit a three-run triple to right-center field off left-hander Robbie Erlin. As he was sliding head first, Harper jammed the thumb into the base. Harper stayed in the game and later scored on a single by Jose Lobaton.
"I think everybody swung the bat well tonight," Harper said. "I felt pretty good tonight. It was huge for [Ian Desmond] to come out. Lobaton is swinging great. [Adam LaRoche] is doing the same thing. Everybody is swinging it well."
Harper went 2-for-2 with four RBIs in the game. Nate McLouth replaced Harper in left field in the fifth inning. It's not known if Harper will miss any games.
"I went in the dugout and swung in the cage. I felt fine. I hit some homers … in the cage," Harper said. "It was a 6-0 ballgame. I went out in the outfield and it swelled up a little bit. I thought we were in a good spot. Matt did, too. I went out and got some treatment on it. Put some ice in there. … We'll see how I feel tomorrow and go from there."
Ramos feels good after taking batting practice
WASHINGTON -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamate bone fracture, took batting practice Friday for the first time since suffering the injury on Opening Day against the Mets.
Ramos was able to hit grounders and line drives, but he didn't display any power. That's to be expected, as Ramos is still trying to strengthen his hand and wrist. He also had some soreness in the left hand, but he expects that to go away soon. Ramos should be involved in defensive drills sometime this weekend.
"I feel better," Ramos said. "I'm trying to get confidence. My swing feels a lot better. I want to make my wrist stronger. I'm working hard in my rehab."
Ramos doesn't know when he will play in a Major League game. Once he is healthy, he will play in extended spring games in Florida before going on a rehab assignment.
Besides providing power for the Nationals, Ramos is a steady influence behind the plate. He is not afraid to voice his opinion on certain things such as pitch selection.
"Wilson has been around this team and this pitching staff long enough to have a good feel for what we like to do on the mound," reliever Tyler Clippard said. "I think he has helped Lobby [Jose Lobaton] out a lot, Sandy Leon and the younger guys. The comfort level that we had in Wilson is very important. That's tough to be without him for this amount of time."
• In their last five games, the Nationals are 6-for-49 with runners in scoring position. But manager Matt Williams believes the offense will turn around.
"I'm happy with 49 opportunities. It comes and it goes in cycles," Williams said. "There are ebbs and flows to this game. My [hope] is that we continue to create the opportunity to drive a run in. It will happen. I'm not concerned about that."
• Everybody in the Nationals' bullpen was available Friday except for reliever Craig Stammen, who threw three innings against the Padres on Thursday.
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.