Day 3 in Viera: That Familiar Pop of Ball Meeting Glove
Greetings again. OK, weather check. It was a bit cloudy for most of the morning today, but temps reached 71. The wind was light and pleasant. Not perfect, but in the realm of really comfortable. The sun came out in earnest in the afternoon. I am in the midst of my eighth Spring Training in Viera and this is the best weather we’ve had right from the get-go. Usually things get very nice in March, but this year’s sunny skies seem to have come a bit early. No one is complaining.
So who is this guy who’s in his eighth Spring Training in Viera? My name is John Dever and I’m the PR Director for the Nationals baseball operation. With the help of Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna, I’m stringing together some ideas, sights/sounds, and vignettes from the Nationals 2011 Spring Training camp. As I’ve said before, we are merely batting leadoff on this blog for another few days before Mark Lerner jumps into the captain’s seat to share his own views on what’s happening with the Nationals during their stay in Camp Riggleman.
* Today we saw baseball players actually playing baseball in uniform as part of the first workout for pitchers and catchers. We heard balls popping into new leather gloves. A nice sound no doubt, one trumped only by the distinctive bat-on-rawhide vocals we will begin to hear next week. But we are officially underway.
* Before the workout Jim Riggleman gathered everyone together to remind the pitchers that “no one is making the ballclub today.” In essence, Skipper was telling them not to risk injury by coming out of the chute too hard and too fast. That does no one any good. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for an injury-free season for all.
* 15 pitchers from Group A threw their first bullpens of the Spring. We saw, among others, Livan Hernandez, Chien-Ming Wang, Collin Balester (who threw gas BTW!), Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard take the hill.
* It is true, Stephen Strasburg played catch today with Head Athletic Trainer Lee Kuntz. In all, Strasburg made 70 throws with Kuntz from 30-45 feet. It was a natural motion, one that I’m sure you can see tonight on the local TV sportscasts. BTW, look for one-on-one interviews with Strasburg tonight on WUSA (Brett Haber) and Comcast Sports Net (Kelli Johnson). On a side note, Stephen won a lucrative $100 bet today from his pitching coach, Steve McCatty. The bet hinged on Strasburg’s assertion that he would have “six-pack abs” by the first day of Spring Training. Word from the clubhouse is that McCatty is eating Ramen Noodles tonight because his meal money is now in Strasburg’s pocket!
* Early Bird Gets the Worm Award to RHP Cole Kimball, who showed up at Space Coast Stadium this morning for his first day in Big League camp at 5:25 a.m. He beat everyone to the park, including Special Assistant Pat Corrales, who is a bit ticked off he wasn’t first. Cole is a workout warrior who throws very hard. Very excited to see him perform in games in a few weeks.
* Truly incredible performance this morning from RHP Yunesky Maya, who threw his body around like a rag doll while fielding comebackers off the bat of Rick Schu. Granted, this drill entails the use of padded baseballs, but Maya made some truly dazzling stops. Must be something about Cuban pitchers because in my mind, countryman Livan Hernandez is the best fielding pitcher I have ever witnessed.
* Book Club Note of the Day: Tyler Clippard spent the dying weeks of his offseason reading Men’s Health Muscle Chow by Gregg Avedon. 150 meals to feed your muscles and fuel your workouts. I wonder how many of those 150 meals contain “Peaches?” In true bachelor fashion, Tyler told us that he prepared none of those meals himself, but rather had a personal chef to fix the meals for him.
That’s it for now – ’til we meet tomorrow, when we chronicle Yunesky Maya’s first bullpen session in Viera, and more.