WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Dan Haren said he is surprised the Angels are off to a slow start. Entering Friday's action, they were 12-22 and in fourth place in the American League West. He would be shocked if they aren't able to turn things around.
Last year, Haren was on an Angels team that also got off to a slow start, going 15-19 after 34 games.
"You would never think it would happen two years in a row to them," said Haren about the slow start. "Actually, I thought about it a lot because I have a lot of friends over there. If they would have kept the team together and rolled it over into this year, I guarantee that team would have played really good baseball. We got off to a little bit of a slow start [last year], but we really started jelling as a team throughout the year. We came a couple of games short.
"It's hard when you get into a lot of turnover. The rotation, three-fifths of it was gone. It's hard to build chemistry. It's taken [the Nationals] some time here, too. You could see it here. But luckily, we pulled it together after treading water for a while."
Haren also said the Angels miss outfielder Torii Hunter, who is now with the Tigers. Haren called Hunter a tremendous leader in the clubhouse.
"With all the teams I've been with, I don't think I've [played with] a guy that led a clubhouse like he had," Haren said. "His desire to win, the guy is out there every day. It was really impressive to see his leadership qualities. I guarantee that is probably one of the biggest things they miss -- it's him in that clubhouse."
Haren is not one of those people who thinks Mike Scioscia should be dismissed as manager of the Angels.
"It's about the players' performance," Haren said. "It's not Scioscia's fault that there are a ton of injuries. It's not Scioscia's fault the lineup hasn't lived up to its capabilities. But someone has to take the fall, and if it's Scioscia, that's unfortunate. He's really an intelligent guy. If it did happen, he would be without a job for two minutes. Teams would be lucky to have him."
Harper misses opener vs. Cubs with ingrown toenail
WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper did not play in Friday's game against the Cubs because of an ingrown toenail in his right foot.
According to manager Davey Johnson, the doctor "took a big chunk out of his toe." Johnson believes Harper will miss one game and play Saturday.
Harper played with the ingrown toenail over the last three days, and it became infected. In the last two games against the Tigers, Harper went 1-for 7 with a home run and two RBIs, but he didn't have any problems in the outfield, making some spectacular catches in right.
Jackson enjoying opportunity to face ex-mates
WASHINGTON -- Cubs right-hander Edwin Jackson was in the visitor's locker room on Friday afternoon, reminiscing about his days with the Nationals.
In his only year in Washington, Jackson helped the Nationals win the National League East title, going 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 31 starts. But the Nationals decided not to re-sign him after the season. Instead, they signed right-hander Dan Haren to a one-year deal.
"I've been around the game. Nothing seems to surprise me anymore. You hope for the best and expect the worst," Jackson said. "You know me: I've always been a person that worried about what I can control. What I can't control, I really don't have time to worry about it."
Jackson is off to a slow start, going 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA for Chicago. But he feels he can turn things around.
"Mentally, physically, I'm ready to go. I've always continued to work hard, and [I'll] continue to grind out the season and finish up strong," Jackson said.
Jackson was able to catch up with a few of his ex-mates on the Nationals. He said they seem to be in good spirits. One person Jackson spoke to was right-hander Stephen Strasburg, whom he will face Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park.
"I get to face 98 [mph] tomorrow," Jackson said. "I talked to Stras' and told him I'll be ready to swing it. He would do the same. It will be a lot of fun. Them facing me and me facing them. Once the game starts, it will be no friends. They will be trying to get me, I'll try to get them. Until then, have some fun with it and get ready for tomorrow."
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.