Day 16 in sunny Viera

Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2011 Grapefruit League Season, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on at the Nats Spring Training home in Viera, Fla. Check back often for the latest updates.


Good afternoon NatsTown from Viera!


As you might expect, optimism is high after recording 9-3 and 5-3 wins over the Mets the last two days. Both games were remarkably well-pitched and the defense was strong. Just two errors and two walks! Usually you don’t see such cleanly-played games until a week or so into the Grapefruit League schedule. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa combined on a 4-6-3 double play on Monday against the Mets that I am not sure many other tandems would have finished off.


Yesterday, I was impressed by Ross Detwiler, who struck out three in 2.0 strong innings. It was good to see Ross’ velocity back up after he endured that hip injury last spring. He has a heck of a slider too. Very encouraging signs from our former first-rounder.


And after Detwiler left the game, I was taken aback by the power of both Cole Kimball and Collin Balester. Both guys are BIG and regularly throw in the mid-90s. I sat behind the dugout yesterday at Space Coast Stadium and let me tell you, you can feel the velocity from both Cole and Collin. Mets hitters did not look too thrilled to be facing either of those two power arms.


At the plate, it is hard not to be impressed with Michael Morse and his .714 batting average. He is 5-for-7. And his 2-homer effort in Monday’s opener at St. Lucie was really special in that his first homer was crushed to left field (500 feet? Seemed close to that) and his second was an opposite-field shot. That’s good hitting in February, March or… August.


The weather for Tuesday’s opener was a tad disappointing, as it rained for most of the morning. But by noon, the system pushed off shore and we were ready for baseball. So it was dry. It was great to host representatives from each branch of the military yesterday, the majority of which are stationed at nearby Patrick Air Force Base, which is only about 10-12 miles from Space Coast Stadium.


The good news is that the ideal weather is back today. Look for lots of sunny skies and temps ranging from 77-81 the next week or so.  Great baseball weather for players and fans alike.


I found out yesterday that the Nationals will face lefthander C.C. Sabathia on Saturday in Tampa. Should be a fun test as he is on a short list of the best the game has to offer.


Also, we have a Henry Rodriguez sighting! He arrived in Viera late last night and reported to camp this morning. Pitching Coach Steve McCatty told me that Rodriguez’s bullpen sessions were very impressive. This is another legit power arm and you certainly cannot have enough of those.


I ran into Bob Carpenter this morning. He is in town with F. P. Santangelo and Debbi Taylor to address the ballclub this morning. Bob’s spirits are very high for the 2011 season. He also told me that F.P. is a great addition to MASN’s stable of TV talent. They are anxious to get going.


I then enjoyed meeting F.P. later in the morning. He is thrilled to be here with us, especially after driving across the country last week! F.P. certainly has studied up on the Nationals. He knows the roster inside and out, and is already well aware of the tangible momentum we have going within our organization.


One correction from Monday’s blog, MASN’s initial telecast of the spring is set for Sunday at 1:05 p.m. as the Nationals host the Braves at Space Coast Stadium. So please tune in and take a peek at what the 2011 season might have to offer.


2-0 and looking forward to today’s contest against the Marlins. John Lannan is on the mound. Let’s hope our winning ways will continue…

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