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Nationals ship out Suns' three starting outfielders

June 12, 2007|by TIM KOELBLE

It was almost like a hastily arranged graduation party.

One hour before the Hagerstown Suns' 7 p.m. game against Lakewood, Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden was in town to pass on diplomas to four players who were about to become Potomac Nationals.

What becomes Potomac's gain is Hagerstown's loss: An entire starting outfield - Chris Marrero, Mike Daniel and Justin Maxwell - along with first baseman Brett McMillan.

"The team will have a different face," said manager Tommie Herr after the Suns beat Lakewood 7-6 on Monday night. "It will be a feeling-out process up until the All-Star break so we can figure out how everyone will fit in."

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The quartet is off this morning for Winston-Salem, N.C., where they will join there new Class A teammates.

Replacing those players on the Suns' roster are Marvin Lowrance and Francisco Placencia from Single-A Potomac, Robert Jackson from extended spring training in Florida and Sheldon Fuse, who returns following a stint at Double-A Harrisburg. In addition, the Suns added Jonathan Castro and Don Pfau to the roster earlier on Monday, replacing Alexis Nunez and Greg Bunn.

With the parent Nationals off Monday, it was fitting that Bowden, along with managing principal owner Ted Lerner, principal owner Mark Lerner and vice-president/player development Bob Boone, would give the news in person.

The four promoted players combined for a .290 batting average, 150 of the Suns' 302 RBIs, 58 percent of the team's home runs and nearly half of its doubles.

Entering Monday, Marrero was batting .289 with 13 homers, 52 RBI, 14 doubles and a team-leading 63 hits. Daniel was batting .297 with seven homers and 37 RBI, Maxwell was at the .300 mark with 14 homers and 40 RBI and McMillan was batting .271 with five homers and 21 RBI.

"We got a lot of input from Tommie and he's been pushing for them," said Bowden. "They are special players ... special hitters.

"We told them that they are moving themselves for what they have accomplished," said Bowden. "We hold them in the highest regard.

Bowden seemed especially pleased with the numbers of the 18-year-old Marrero, who hit his 14th home run on Monday.

"I'm not comparing him at all, I'm just looking at some numbers and at his age, he has the same kind of numbers Alex Rodriguez had at 18 when he was at Appleton," said Bowden.

All four players were signing autographs following the game and receiving well-wishes from fans, then trying to make concrete plans for their departure to North Carolina.

"I never really thought of this happening this year, much less by the middle of the year," said Marrero, the Suns' right fielder who was the Nationals' top draft pick in the 2006 draft. "I haven't felt the pressure to move up fast. I just keep learning and play hard."

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