Day 7 in Viera: Let’s Get Physicals!

I am now a week into a professional blogging career. It has been fun and find
that my mind rarely shuts down. Let’s see what we can share from today’s
festivities from the Nationals Training Complex in Viera, Fla. As you may
remember, today was the final day where only pitchers and catchers engaged in
formal workouts.

Long before the baseball day got started, Nationals position players had their
2011 physicals. Everyone reading this blog should get an annual physical, but
let me tell you that the physical you are used to is but a distant cousin of
the physical that the players had to partake in. No one was spared. During an
approximately 90-minute visit, eye charts were shared, reflexes were tested,
EKGs administered, x-rays were revealed and overbites examined. All in the name
of creating a baseline with which the Nationals’ outstanding athletic training
staff can use as the season progresses. Of course, we are all hoping for an
injury-free 2011 campaign, but realistically we know it won’t be. That is why
the data gathered today will help us monitor, treat and expose our players to
the finest medical practices available.

Say hello to Bryce Harper. Yes, #34 showed up today and joined his
position-player brethren for the last informal batting practice session of the
spring. Harper’s arrival created an instant buzz among the assembled media
(look for footage on either CSN Washington or WJLA-7 tonight) and hundreds of
fans in attendance, including tons of kids out of school for Presidents Day. Harper
handled himself very well. He shagged flies in right field and shared the
batting cage with 1B Chris Marrero and INF Brian Bixler. Harper will likely be
compared to Stephen Strasburg for a long time. But one of the main differences
is that we don’t have to wait five more days for Harper to reemerge. He’ll jump
in that same cage tomorrow and continue to hone his hitting craft, which is
arguably the toughest skill in sport to master.

Interesting drill of the day: the Nationals practiced the wild pitch with a
runner on third base. Huh? Nationals pitchers feigned their pitching deliveries
then charged hard toward home plate. While in full sprint, the pitcher called
out either “3,” “1,”  or “4” to the catcher (1B Coach Dan Radison in this
instance). This verbal cue tells the catcher which side of the plate the pitch
in the dirt scooted off to. “1” is the first base side. “3” is the third base
side. “4” is directly behind the plate. The pitchers were then instructed on
how to break down/decelerate during their approach to the plate and not expose
themselves to injury while fielding the throw (from Radison) and applying the
tag. All in all, not terribly exciting. But this drill might just garner an
extra out or two this season, and that could be the difference between a 3-2
win and a 4-3 setback. You just never know.

We enjoyed getting to know Cole Kimball yesterday. Well, today was his third
bullpen session of the spring. Let’s just say that Kimball’s “mitt pop” is tops
on the team. Kimball is from New Jersey, but I would describe him as “country
strong.” And he uses everything he has when on the mound. But my guess is that
when he does arrive at Nationals Park, the fans in the Lexus Presidents Club
will know when he has entered the game.

Let’s close with our “4 Questions” segment. Today’s victim was catcher Derek

Team/Player as a Youth?:
Royals, George Brett (I suspect this is the answer of
any Royals fan from Kansas)

Favorite Game Show of all-time?: The Price is Right (I am glad Derek offered up
an old-school game show)

Favorite Superhero?: Superman (I should have asked him Christopher Reeves or
Dean Cain)

Most apt to watch CNN, Food Network or Travel Channel (and list favorite
Food Network. I have to go with Cupcake Wars.

Special thanks to Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna for their help today. Oh, and the
weather was again STRONG today. Highs in the low 80s with a slightly stronger
breeze than we’ve seen to date. We were VERY comfortable. Come join us. You are
always welcome.

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