Sunday, March 28, 2010

Maxwell to Syracuse

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Justin Maxwell hit a paltry .102 this spring, leading to his demotion.
[UPDATED AT 12:21 P.M.]

VIERA, Fla. -- Justin Maxwell was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse this morning, ending a disappointing spring that saw the outfielder struggle mightily at the plate despite a golden opportunity to win a starting job.

Maxwell, 26, hit a miniscule .102 (5-for-49) with 20 strikeouts. He saw significant playing time as a contender for the starting job in right field once Elijah Dukes was released earlier in camp but ultimately couldn't seize the opportunity.

The Nationals are expected to use a combination of Willie Harris, Mike Morse and either Willy Taveras or Roger Bernadina in right field once the regular season begins.

"I wanted Maxwell to make the ballclub," manager Jim Riggleman said. "That's the way I came into the spring. I just think he's really a good-makeup guy. He's a great athlete. But you know, he's just having some trouble right now with the bat, and we've just got to go in a different direction for a while. I know he's going to play for us, and maybe play for us soon. But we've just got some other options there right now that we're going to have to go with."

Maxwell, an Olney native selected in the fourth round of the 2005 draft out of Maryland, spent last season bouncing back and forth between Washington and Syracuse and faces perhaps another year of uncertainty because he still has minor-league options.

"You're never happy about it," he said. "But it's encouraging the fact that I know the front office likes the way I play and then know what I can do. They just want me to keep working on it and be more consistent. That's all I can do."


Anonymous said...

Well, Justin can't blame anyone but himself. The Nats tried to hand him a job and he gaffed.

Mark, how has Bernadina looked. I think he could be an everyday player.....course, I'm mot in charge.

Anonymous said...

Mark great blog way to go in getting a shout out in the Boston Globe's Sunday Baseball Notes today.

Anonymous said...

Mark...what are the chances that someone steps up from minor leagues this year and takes the RF job? Maybe someone like Burgess, Rhinehart, Davis, Hood, or Daniel? Are any of those guys making a statement this spring?

Deez Nats said...

Rizzo really botched this RF thing. Should've addressed it in the offseason if he was considering jettisoning Elijah.

sjm105 said...

Rizzo hasn't botched anything! There was competition, Dukes and Maxwell came up short and we move on. It is not ideal right now but you can't always plan for failure. Who were you going to sign in the off season if you knew in advance the Dukes was not going to improve? There really were not that many options, unless you wanted to go old. My hope is Morse develops and the Willie continues to be solid. Again, not a great situation but the only ones to blame are Dukes and Maxwell for not taking it up a notch.

Anonymous said...

This should have been done about 2 weeks ago so that Rog could get more playing time. If Riggleman gave Rog more looks during this spring he would have outplayed Morse and Willie and Tavares so they could be getting more playing time where they belong in the minor league camp!!!!

Anonymous said...

^ "rog's" mom? ^

peric said...

Maxwell now has a much younger, rifle armed left-handed, better power hitter in Michael Burgess looking right over his shoulder. Dark horse Eury Perez could suddenly jump onto this year's big stage in Harrisburg. There is also Destin Hood. Fortunately, for him, Davis and Daniel are both close to his age but they are also left handed.

Maxwell is in trouble. Unless he goes down, takes the right attitude this time, and hits .400 with walks and homers he may not be back. He's in Syracuse with the veteran depth. Not Harrisburg with the prospects.

Steve M. said...

Roger has a Fan Club for sure. He had a picture perfect drag bunt today.

Tavares has stepped it up too. Maxwell blew it big time.

Here's what I think. Willie Harris goes back to Infield utility guy along with Guzy and the team keeps Bernadina, Tavares, and Morse.

Bruntlett can't do what these other guys can do.

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