Dinner With Davey

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John Dever is the Senior Director of Media Relations for the Washington Nationals. As a team employee in close contact with the players, coaches and front office throughout Spring Training, he will bring an inside look at the happenings in Viera in Dever’s (Almost) Daily Diary throughout February and March.

Another beautiful day today, highs in the low 80s. Potentially 88 on Saturday for the Grapefruit League opener at Houston.

Busy day, so let’s get started …

*Davey Johnson has been asked many times in the last months months to list some similarities between Ryan Zimmerman and his former teammate, Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson. Davey’s answer ALWAYS starts with “they both have soft hands.”

*Enjoyed having Danny Knobler from CBSsports.com visit us this week. He wrote a piece yesterday about Bryce Harper and the Nationals eye toward winning. You can read the piece here.

To me the best part of the article is when Knobler, who covered the Tigers for years, asks Bryce about Al Kaline. Bryce then proceeds to ace his history test, letting Knobler in on a “secret” that I’d bet no current player in any camp outside of perhaps Lakeland knew. Kaline won a batting title at the age of 20! Bryce’s reverence for the game of baseball and its history is remarkable and rare, especially among modern players, many of which remember watching Cal Ripken as a kid playing third base for the Orioles.

Manager Davey Johnson has seen it all in the game of baseball.

*I had dinner with  Davey, Mike Rizzo, Harolyn Cardozo and Mike Gazda on Sunday night at Amici’s, which is located only about 2-3 miles from Space Coast Stadium. Great authentic Italian food, excellent hospitality and the company was even better. Around the middle of the meal, Mike Rizzo really got Davey going, so we all were privy to various stories about his ’86 Mets, Sadaharu Oh, Ted Williams and even John Havlicek, who is a good fishing buddy of his. Davey can spin a tale like few I have ever met, he has just a fantastic cadence that really draws the listener in. I wish I had that skill.

*On Saturday, the Nationals trek to Kissimmee for their Grapefruit League opener and will face the club’s all-time leader in wins (44) … our buddy and yours … Livan Hernandez! While it will be a tad strange to be on the other side of Livo’s arsenal of changeups, slurves and swingback fastballs, we cannot pretend this has not happened before. Between his two stints in DC, Livo pitched against the Nationals while repping the D-Backs, Rockies, Twins and Mets.

We are all excited for Livan and know that he will be an excellent resource, both on the rubber and in the clubhouse, for a young Astros ballclub.

*Well, MASN and our fans will see Stephen Strasburg and lefthander J.A. Happ square off on Sunday. After a long off-season, it’ll be great to see Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo back in Viera for MASN’s debut telecast of the season.

*Other pitching probables for the Nationals: Mon. at NYM (LHP John Lannan), Tue. at ATL (LHP Gio Gonzalez).

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