Another day in paradise
The Sunshine state definitely didn’t get its nickname on a day like today. The spring showers delayed the start of practice for the pitchers and catchers but it wasn’t too long before the sun appeared. Half the pitchers and catchers played long toss and the other half stretched on the main field. There were a handful of position players taking ground balls–Nyjer Morgan showed he could be a solid first baseman.
There is definitely an interesting contrast between work and play at Spring Training. For the most part, the veteran players know what they have to do to be ready when the season starts. Pitcher Craig Stammen said if you enter the Spring in-shape it is pretty easy. The younger players are just trying to soak it all in, ask questions and try to claim the few remaining roster spots. Spring Training is like the first 15 minutes of an NFL practice: stretching, drills and tossing the ball.
“Practice is pretty laid back,” Craig Stammen said. “This is about as hard as the first half of practice during high school football.”
“Spring Training is the best part of the year,” Willy Taveras said. “You practice in the morning and then you are done.”
“It was surprising to see how early the veteran guys get here and how hard they work,” Drew Storen said. “It’s not something I really expected and it’s something I learned from.”
To say it is easy would imply anyone could do it. To say it is exhausting would be an exaggeration. It’s hard and easy at the same time–hard just to make it to camp, even harder to make it out and easy compared to running a marathon. Of course, everything is easy expect for what is difficult. Then again, to say anything is easy in baseball is a lie. What’s the easiest thing to do in baseball? I bet you were thinking… “Laying down a bunt.” Don’t be fooled. I just took a crash course in bunting from Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein and realized there is nothing easy about it. Even if you properly position yourself, the thought of a 95 mph fastball in on the hands can leave a grown man’s pants wet.
“Everything looks easy on TV,” Eckstein said.
Don’t be fooled.
Line of the day:
“Is it ok if I keep my shirt off for the interview?” the always funny and far from flashy Eddie Guardado said to a TV reporter. “You know everybody would like that.”
It’s always interesting to see the numbers everyone is wearing. A lot of atypical baseball numbers make the way out of the wood work to accommodate the large number of players at camp. Thankfully they disappear when the season starts. Collin Balester is wearing No. 99 but he is game for rocking that number the whole season. Nats top catching prospect Derek Norris is wearing No. 62. Storen wore No. 26 for his introductory press conference, No. 17 in the AFL and now he is wearing No. 58. When he makes it to the Majors, don’t count on him wearing No. 58 and he won’t be wearing No. 26 now that Jesus Flores has claimed his rights to that number.
“I don’t know about the number 26 but hopefully something a little skinnier so it makes me look bigger,” Storen said. “These big numbers make me look skinny. I need to find a slimmer number but as long as I have a Nationals jersey on it doesn’t really matter.”
Livo is back:
Livan Hernandez is a member of the Washington Nationals yet again. He rejoins the Nationals after going 9-12 with a 5.44 ERA in 31 starts last season with the Nats and Mets. After winning seven games in 23 starts for the Mets, Hernandez signed with the Nationals on August 25, and in eight starts, finished 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA in his second stint in DC. Hernandez recorded 18 quality starts in 31 assignments (58%) last season, including six in eight outings with Washington.