Nats keep winning in 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.
Thanks for stopping by NatsTown. I am writing today from Viera and in a few minutes I am set to take the 112-mile trek south to watch the Nats play the Marlins in Jupiter.
Well, glancing at the Grapefruit League standings, we are right at the top with a 6-3 record. Tied with the Braves (7-4) and Tigers (8-5). What does this mean? Some would say not much. We’ll take it, enjoy it and most importantly keep it in perspective. But it sure beats the alternative, right?
The baseball fan in me senses that the monotony that comes with Spring Training has officially set in. Workouts every morning. Games every day. You might say these are the Dog Days—not of July or August—but of March. Countdown to Opening Day…
But my eyes tell me differently!
Our guys are working hard, every day and seemingly every hour. There is a continued palpable intensity. Hundreds of ground balls courtesy of Dan Radison. Baserunning instruction from Bo Porter. Bullpen sessions with Steve McCatty. Extra-hitting with Rick Eckstein. Teaching moments from Davey Johnson and/or Pat Corrales. It does not end… well except for lunch around 11:15 a.m. or so. Then it is time to reinvigorate, to stretch, to play catch and get ready for the game at 1:05 p.m.
Jim Riggleman firmly believes that this will all pay off, and when you think about it, how can it not? All 58 players in our camp are committed to the pursuit of improved individual play within the scope of team-oriented baseball.
Since my last blog, your Nationals have pulled out a couple of wins: 14-9 over the Astros on Monday and a nicely-played 4-3 victory in 10 innings over the Mets yesterday at St. Lucie.
Saw plenty of power in yesterday’s win over the Mets as Michael Morse, Jerry Hairston and Brian Bixler all went deep. Saw plenty of rock-solid pitching from Jordan Zimmermann (3.0 scoreless innings, threw 93-94 mph), Brian Broderick (one run, 3.0 innings), Sean Burnett (1.0 scoreless inning) and Adam Carr (2.0 scoreless innings).
But what will I take away from St. Lucie yesterday? My first peek at one of our top prospects, Eury Perez! The young guy (21 years-old) has a lot going for him. He led off the 10th inning with an opposite-field single, then he swiped second with ease. Two batters later, Laynce Nix sent him home with the decisive run via a double. One of our pr guys, John Dever chatted with Ian Desmond, who told him that Eury is the “fastest player he had seen” since he became a pro. High praise indeed.
I am told Eury is a heck of an outfielder, he can hit (batted .345 in Dominican Winter League, .299 for Hagerstown last year) and he can run all day long (84 stolen bags in 2010 per my PR guys). I will keep an eye on his boxscores this summer via milb.com.
Monday’s win featured a trademark homer to right-center off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman and later a 9-run 8th inning that included two doubles from Bryce Harper. Don’t look now, Bryce is hitting .308 (4-for-13). He’s really holding his own against pitchers with 5 and sometimes 10 years of professional experience at their disposal. It sure is fun to dream about what is coming, isn’t it?
A lot has been made of our error total to date. Please note that only 7 have come from players who are seemingly certain to make the Opening Day roster. We are going to be much improved this summer defensively. Remember, the hard work has not stopped, won’t stop and will pay off.
Tomorrow we have our lone split squad action of the spring. Afternoon game against the Mets in Viera followed by a night game in Kissimmee against the Astros. I am told that we will face A.J. Burnett on Saturday when the Yankees visit Viera. Challenges abound.
Thanks for your time and continued interest in the ballclub. Only 22 more days until Opening Day!
I’ll be in touch again soon …