Updated: July 23, 2008, 2:20 PM ET

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James Lang/US PRESSWIRE

Joel Hanrahan has allowed a run just once in his past 11 appearances.

Hanrahan to close in D.C.
Joel Hanrahan just got real popular with fantasy players.

The first look at the fantasy spin on the Jon Rauch and Randy Wolf trades of Tuesday was available right after the deals were made, but since then, our speculation that Hanrahan will get the first shot at closing games with Rauch no longer in the picture was confirmed by the Nationals' Web site.

The 26-year-old has thrived in his first season converting to a relief role. He was once a highly touted starting prospect in the Dodgers system until shoulder problems derailed him in 2003. Working in the 'pen in maximum-effort stints has added velocity to his fastball, which now touches 97 mph and is complemented by a hard, mid-80s slider. It's certainly prototypical closer's stuff.

The one issue with Hanrahan is his tendency to get wild at times. Though he's striking out more than a batter per inning, he's also walking just under five batters per nine, and that could come back to bite him a bit more in the final couple of months of the season. He's not necessarily a sure thing because of his control, but merely a good speculative play for saves. Saul Rivera and Luis Ayala will also be in the mix should Hanrahan falter. Chad Cordero is expected to resume his role as the team's closer next season.

Nationals general manager Jim Bowden also confirmed to the team Web site that the plan is for Emilio Bonifacio to come up at some point later in the season, and that he is expected to bat leadoff and start at second base on Opening Day 2009, with Ronnie Belliard backing him up. Of course, things could change by that time, but that's the plan, and Bonifacio has a ton of stolen-base potential if he can make enough consistent contact at the big league level.

Past editions: 7/22: Yanks injuries | 7/21: Bad-luck Baker | 7/20: Joba can't win

Box Score Bits
Jeff Clement exited Tuesday's game with a torn fingernail on his thumb after getting it tangled in some netting going after a foul ball. He had one more at-bat before departing, and the injury shouldn't be too serious. … Jim Edmonds left Tuesday's game with a sore right knee and is considered to day-to-day at this point. … Denard Span was moved to the leadoff role and got on base three times on Tuesday, with Carlos Gomez dropping to ninth in the order. Michael Cuddyer isn't even swinging a bat yet, so Span's lineup spot is safe for the near future. … Jered Weaver left Tuesday's game after three innings with back tightness and is questionable at this point for his next start. … Kyle Lohse hurled his fifth straight quality start and struck out a season-high seven. He now has 11 quality starts in his past 13 trips to the mound. … Jermaine Dye returned to the White Sox lineup from a knee injury and had three hits. … Mark Buehrle allowed one run in 7 1/3 innings of work, and now has nine quality starts in his past 10 outings. … Paul Maholm continues to be quietly effective. The Pirates lefty allowed one run in eight innings and now has a 2.91 ERA in his past 10 starts, making him a viable mixed-league consideration. … Rick VandenHurk threw five innings of no-hit ball as part of a combined one-hitter, but he walked five. His lack of consistency prevents him from being a fantasy consideration at the moment in all but the deepest of NL leagues, but he is a promising arm. … Johnny Cueto tied his career high with 10 strikeouts in a no-decision, and appears to be gaining more and more consistency lately. … Adam Lind had four hits and is hitting .379 with three homers this month, as he's finally getting regular playing time. … Joe Crede was a late scratch on Tuesday with back stiffness and was replaced by Juan Uribe. … Nick Punto returned to the Twins lineup after missing seven games with a sprained finger and will likely displace Brendan Harris as the starting shortstop the majority of the time. He went 0-for-4. … Darrell Rasner recorded an out in the sixth inning for the first time since June 6, but he received a no-decision against the Twins. Rasner has a 3.44 ERA at home this year. … Joe Blanton allowed five runs in his first start for the Phillies and remains an option in deep NL play only. … Although Clayton Kershaw is expected to remain up with the Dodgers for the rest of the season, he was knocked around for 10 hits and five runs in three innings at Coors Field on Tuesday. … Ubaldo Jimenez has quietly dropped his ERA below 4.00 after a one-run complete game. He has a 2.04 ERA in his past five starts. … Bengie Molina hit two homers, snapping a stretch of 160 at-bats without one. … Shaun Marcum was activated from the disabled list following his elbow issues, and the Blue Jays righty was knocked around in his return on Tuesday against the Orioles, allowing seven runs -- six earned -- in 4 2/3 innings. It's probably best to keep him stashed away until he shows that his arm is back in form.


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Standing Out

MORA MASHING
Melvin Mora, Orioles
Mora drove in five runs and had a season-high four hits, including his 15th home run. He's got 20 RBIs in his past 11 games and has now driven in more runs this season than he did in 126 games in 2007.

NO RELIEF IN SIGHT
Duaner Sanchez, Mets
For those of you who hoped to pick up a quick save with Billy Wagner unavailable, it wasn't to be. Sanchez entered in a comfortable save spot, only to allow three straight hits. Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano poured gas on the fire, allowing all three of Sanchez's runners to score … and three more runs in the Mets' defeat.
News and Notes

An MRI showed that there's nothing structurally wrong with Erik Bedard's shoulder, but there is some sort of internal impingement. Bedard will continue with his current rehab program, but his return date is still uncertain. … While there's still a chance he will land on the disabled list, Kerry Wood may throw on Wednesday if his blister has healed enough. Even if he does go on the DL, with backdating, he'd be eligible to return as soon as Sunday. … Manager Joe Torre did not rule out Andruw Jones seeing a lot of bench time when Juan Pierre returns this weekend, according to the LA Times. … Fausto Carmona will rejoin the Indians rotation on Saturday. … An MRI on Billy Wagner's shoulder showed nothing serious, and his problems are being deemed a "muscle spasm." Wagner was unavailable on Tuesday as the Mets blew a ninth-inning lead, but he could pitch again in the next day or two. … Aaron Harang threw for the first time since going on the disabled list with a forearm injury, but there is no timetable for his return just yet. … Corey Hart got a routine day off on Tuesday. … Brad Penny (shoulder) is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend and return to the Dodgers rotation sometime in early August.

Transactions
• In addition to the Rauch trade, the Nationals finally activated Ryan Zimmerman from the disabled list, and he went 1-for-3 with two walks in his return to the lineup. Zimmerman could hit .280 with 5-10 homers for the balance of the season.

• The Brewers activated Jeff Suppan from the disabled list, and sent reliever Mitch Stetter back to Triple-A. Suppan threw a quality start on Tuesday against the Cardinals and should be a useful option in NL leagues.

• The Cardinals placed Chris Duncan on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his neck and recalled outfielder Joe Mather from Triple-A. Mather will be a bench bat against right-handed pitching.

• The Giants activated Dave Roberts from the disabled list, and he will provide a lefty bat off the bench with Fred Lewis entrenched as the left fielder.

• The Diamondbacks called up Jamie D'Antona from Triple-A, and he recorded a pinch-hit single in his first big league at-bat on Tuesday. D'Antona's swing is too long to have consistent success as a regular, but he will be a spot starter in right field and provide another bench bat against left-handed pitching.

• The Braves activated Omar Infante from the disabled list and returned Brent Lillibridge to Triple-A. Infante will serve as the club's utility infielder and have little fantasy value.

On The Farm
• Alfonso Soriano's rehab assignment moved to Triple-A, where he went 1-for-3 with a strikeout on Tuesday night. He could be activated as soon as today. If not, he will likely join the team back at home on Thursday.

• There's nothing left to prove for Francisco Liriano. He allowed two hits and struck out 10 in seven shutout innings, and he's 5-0 with a 0.26 ERA in his past five starts. He has to be called up soon, even if it's just for a bullpen role. There's no reason he shouldn't be replacing Livan Hernandez in the rotation, but that may not happen. If he does move into the rotation, it will likely be at the expense of someone else.

• After impressing at the Futures Game, 21-year-old right-hander Shairon Martis continues to pitch well for the Nationals' Triple-A club. He struck out 12 in 5 2/3 innings on Tuesday and has posted a 3.76 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings this season in 20 starts split between Double-A and Triple-A. Though his control can wander at times, he's a promising young arm that could see time in the big leagues in September.