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Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle was going through his usual routine Monday Jakub Voracek Jersey Kids , preparing if needed for a save, when general manager Mike Rizzo sought him out.
Rizzo wanted to discuss two things: The Nationals were trading for two-time All-Star reliever Kelvin Herrera, and Doolittle was going to keep his ninth-inning job.
Getting a jump on the trade deadline, the Nationals picked up right-hander Herrera from the Kansas City Royals for three minor leaguers, adding him to a back end of the bullpen that already includes the lefty Doolittle and righties Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler.
”It’s almost their way of saying, `Here’s some help. Here’s some reinforcements.’ I think it’s one of those situations where you can’t have too many options down there,” Doolittle said. ”You get a guy who’s pitched in every high-leverage role from the seventh inning on. He’s won a World Series. … We’re planning on playing some really meaningful games down the stretch and making a run into the playoffs. We’re gonna need some help. I think it’s awesome.”
As for the effect on his role, which the Nationals say won’t change, Doolittle called it ”definitely a confidence boost” to hear that it’s ”still my job.”
”You want to add some stuff, but you don’t want to have too many cooks in the kitchen,” Doolittle said. ”It’s not necessarily that guys are super-attached to their roles, but they like to know what to expect – when they’re going to pitch in a game, when to get ready, that sort of stuff.”
The Nationals sent infielder Kelvin Gutierrez, outfielder Blake Perkins and 17-year-old pitcher Yohanse Morel to Kansas City in the deal announced during Washington’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees. Gutierrez heads to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Perkins will be assigned to Class A Wilmington, and Morel goes to rookie ball.
Herrera has 14 saves and a 1.05 ERA this season. He’s allowed three earned runs in 25 2/3 innings while striking out 22 batters and walking two.
”It’s just a moment you don’t want to see,” Herrera said about leaving his only major league home. ”It’s always hard. I was born and raised (as) a player here.”
The 28-year-old helped Kansas City win the 2015 World Series – and is among the last players left from that title team. He is 23-27 with 57 saves and a 2.75 ERA across 442 games in relief over eight seasons in the majors.
”We’ve known Kelvin since he signed with us when he was 16 years old. He’s one of the very best competitors that I’ve ever been around, probably that this organization has seen,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. ”Without him, there is no way we can ever make it to the World Series, win a World Series.”
Kintzler, the usual seventh-inning man for Washington, went on the disabled list June 10 with a right forearm flexor strain, and Madson spent time on the DL earlier this season.
Madson was a teammate of Herrera’s on the 2015 champions.
”He’s a bulldog,” Madson said. ”I take it with welcoming arms. Let the old horse rest a little bit.”
Instead of waiting to make moves at the July 31 non-waiver deadline, the Nationals opted to strike now. They are the two-time reigning NL East champions but have never won a postseason series. Washington also currently stands in second place in the division, entering Monday 3 games behind the Atlanta Braves.
The Royals, meanwhile, are way out of contention in the AL Central in last place and 22-49 going into the day. They already shipped Jon Jay to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a pair of minor leaguers earlier in June.
”We’d like to be holding onto our players longer,” Moore said Youth Jordan Weal Jersey , ”but where we are in the standings and what we’re faced with and how we’re playing, if we can get the right move, it’s important to move.”
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta and freelancer Alan Eskew in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.
The Patriots have had a knack for getting sometimes unexpected production out of late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents during Bill Belichick’s tenure.
From Tom Brady to Julian Edelman to Danny Amendola to last season’s Super Bowl star James White, the list is long and lauded.
This season has been no exception with 2011 seventh-round draft pick Lawrence Guy and Ricky Jean Francois, a seventh-round pick in 2009, each providing contributions that have helped solidify New England’s defensive line that has thrived during the second half of 2017.
The Patriots want to make life as miserable as possible for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
It puts the spotlight on Guy and Jean Francois, with Deatrich Wise (concussion) and Malcolm Brown (foot) both dealing with injuries.
Guy said experiencing his first Super Bowl has validated the path he took to get here.
”My journey’s still going,” he said. ”I wasn’t thinking about this a couple of years ago. I was just thinking about doing what I could do to play harder and harder, study film and stay on the team and contribute. But now I’m blessed to be here.”
Guy started 15 games during the regular season at either defensive tackle or defensive end, and he’s started both playoff games.
Jean Francois appeared in six games after signing with the Patriots in early November and started New England’s AFC championship game win while playing defensive end.
”My appreciation is high for this,” said Jean Francois, 31, who came to the Patriots following stops in San Francisco, Indianapolis, Washington and Green Bay. ”I’m having fun. Clowning around with my teammates. Sitting down, watching film. Just appreciating the moment.”
Jean Francois will be getting his second shot at a Super Bowl. He was on the 49ers team that lost to Baltimore in the Super Bowl to cap the 2012 season. It’s an opportunity he acknowledged he wasn’t sure he’d get again.
”It’s crazy. I never thought there’d be a point when I’d be starting in the AFC championship game again,” Jean Francois said.
”I started in one for the Colts (2014 season), but the next year I was gone. But to be on a team like this and be able to start again in a short period of time. That shows you how much trust and how much I had to do to be in that position.”
Since starting with Green Bay in 2011, each of Guy’s subsequent stops in Indianapolis and San Diego ended with him getting waived. He had his longest run after being picked up by Baltimore in 2014. He played 11 games for the Ravens in 2014, and appeared in every game over the next two seasons.
The Patriots grabbed him in free agency last March, signing him to a four-year, $20 million deal. He’s had one of his best seasons so far, starting 15 games and finishing with a career-best 34 tackles and a sack.
Guy said he’s never been deterred by the ”ups and downs” he’s experienced.
”It can happen at the beginning of your career, it can happen at the end of your career. But sooner or later you’re probably gonna get waived here and there,” he said.
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia says Guy’s attention to detail has allowed him to play several different positions in the Patriots’ system. Patricia said Guy’s been able to help not only against the run, but he’s been able to transition ”into a little bit more pass rush into the pocket and push and be up in the quarterback’s face.”
Even in his sixth season, Guy said he’s tried to keep learning from older players around him.
”Everything I’ve gone through made me more of a man and made me better as a player,” Guy said.
”To experience this type of week is great. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime situation that you can never get back.”
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