Results tagged ‘ Detroit Tigers ’
The Rule 5 Draft is one of the most intricately constructed of baseball’s many minutiae. It exists to give veteran Minor League players who are not on their team’s 40-man roster a chance to make another team’s Major League roster. However, if the players aren’t able to break camp with their new team, they are given back to their original club. Four Nationals Minor Leaguers were taken by other teams in last offseason’s draft, but two were returned in the final week of Spring Training, including the 50th overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Jeff Kobernus.
The UC Berkeley product batted .220/.291/.300 with a pair of triples and three RBI in 50 at-bats this spring for Detroit, and was thought by many to be a fairly strong candidate to make the 25-man roster out of camp as a reserve player. Instead, he rejoined an ever-strengthening Nationals Minor League squad at Triple-A Syracuse.
It is easy to see the tool that stands out the most in Kobernus’ game by looking at his stat line. The speedster has swiped 95 bases while being caught just 19 times over the past two seasons, good for an 83 percent success rate. But he has also maintained his other offensive numbers steadily as he has progressed through the system each year, despite missing time to injury.
“He’s a toolsy player who can run, swing the bat, play second base,” said Nationals Assistant GM Bryan Minniti of Kobernus.
After playing almost entirely at second base throughout his career, the Tigers began trying Kobernus in the outfield this spring. After all, their infield was full, and the 24-year-old’s athleticism and speed seemed to profile well for such a switch. Clearly, the Nationals saw the same in Kobernus when they first selected him back in 2009.
“There are some guys where that’s the only tool they have and that gets them to the big leagues,” Minniti explained of Kobernus’ speed. “Jeff has more than just one tool that can play in the big leagues.”
Kobernus’ ability to take his talents and use them in multiple spots around the field may be key in his advancement. With a Nationals squad fairly deep at most positions, it’s an asset to be a player able to fill in anywhere around the diamond.
“It helps you for when there’s a time that a position needs to be filled,” said Kobernus of his versatility. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be the one position that you play. If you can play multiple, it gives you a better chance of being able to go up there and stay up there.”
Kobernus need only look as far as Steve Lombardozzi to see his theory in action. A second baseman throughout his minor league career, Lombardozzi was able to stick in the majors last year thanks to his versatility, particularly at third base and in left field.
Kobernus has taken full advantage of his current situation, bursting out of the gates to post an absurd .579/.625/.885 slash line with a triple, a home run, eight runs scored, six RBI and three steals in his first five games with the Chiefs. And while he was understandably disappointed not to make a Major League club out of camp just yet, the experience he gained – especially in terms of mental preparation – was invaluable.
“It was really fun seeing all the big-name guys over there, how they work, how they go about their business,” he said. “Not just preparing for a season, but preparing expecting to get to the World Series.”
That experience will no doubt serve him well as he strives to make it to the Major League level on a Nationals squad filled with many of the same expectations.
Jordan Zimmermann was dominant against the defending American League Champion Detroit Tigers on Monday, setting down the final 18 batters he faced after allowing a leadoff single to begin the game. And as impressive as he was in dismantling one of the best offenses in baseball, he accomplished a feat even more rare off the field just last week.
As they have done each of the last three years, a collection of Nationals players, coaches and staff joined together for a par three scramble challenge on the Doral course near Space Coast Stadium last Monday night. With the off day on Tuesday, the tradition allowed for the group to come together off the field and bond over some friendly competition.
If you didn’t already know, the Nationals feature a number of very good golfers, mostly members of the pitching staff, particularly the bullpen. Each group of four on the course had a designated A, B, C and D player, based on respective skill. Zimmermann, whose golf score hovers around his fastball – somewhere in the mid-90s, according to the pitcher – was the “C” player on Tyler Clippard’s squad, which began the day on the third hole, just over 100 yards long. And while Clippard may have been the designated “A” player, it didn’t take long for Zimmermann to establish himself as the ringer of the team.
“First swing of the day,” explained Zimmermann. “I pulled my pitching wedge, spun it back, and it went in.”
A hole-in-one on his very first swing, and style points to boot with the backspin.
Along with Clippard, Zimmermann’s team included Syracuse Chiefs hitting coach and “B” player Troy Gingrich, as well as Nationals strength and conditioning coach John Philbin, holding down the “D” player spot. Together, they combined to go 11 under par over 18 holes, forcing a playoff.
On the first playoff hole, Zimmermann again stepped up to finish what he had so masterfully started.
“He buried a 20-footer to win,” said Clippard, whose team knocked off the foursome of Drew Storen, Rick Eckstein, Harrisburg Senators pitching coach Paul Menhart and Kurt Suzuki.
It was both Clippard and Zimmermann’s first win in the tournament’s three-year history, but Philbin’s second consecutive win. Simply known as “Coach” to most in the clubhouse, they gave him a hard time for backing into his success again.
“Somehow Coach always finds his way onto the winning team,” said Zimmermann, who certainly earned the right to make the joke.
The par three scramble challenge will no doubt remain an annual tradition, as it is one of the only times all year the entire team is able to convene outside of the ballpark, just relax, and enjoy each other’s company.
“I wish we could do it once a week,” said Clippard of the event.
Of course, winning probably helps.
After competing in a postseason type of atmosphere at the World Baseball Classic the last couple of weeks, Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez returned to the much more low-key confines of Viera, rejoining their teammates in Spring Training this week. Detwiler made his first spring start since the tournament on Sunday, bringing a sharp changeup, as well as his trademark, self-deprecating wit along with him to Lakeland as he squared off with the Tigers.
Despite the change in venue, Detwiler used the same approach for this outing as he did for his shining WBC moment, in which he shut down Team Italy over four scoreless frames to help Team USA advance to the second round.
“I don’t think it was that different,” said the southpaw of the two environments. “I had the same mentality to just go out there, throw strikes and get ahead.”
Limited to 56 pitches over four innings, the lefty allowed just three hits and a walk, surrendering a single run on a towering home run to Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter in the first inning.
“My first outing in Spring Training I faced the Braves and their Opening Day lineup,” he explained, noting that he has run into a tough string of opponents already in spring. “You don’t want to take any less intensity out there or they’re going to hit a ball right back at you. Or over the tiki hut in left.”
Detwiler went on to throw 15 more pitches in the bullpen, as he stretches himself out for his first start of the season, likely in Cincinnati – a well-known hitter’s haven – on the team’s first road trip. Good thing he’s getting his practice in now in tough pitching environments.
“That’s a ridiculous lineup,” he said of the Tigers, who rolled out nearly all of their starters on Sunday. “You’ve got to focus on keeping the ball down, or you’re going to have to throw with an L-screen out there.”
For those unfamiliar with the term, an L-screen is the protective barrier from behind which coaches throw batting practice to the players. Hopefully he won’t need any such equipment should he run into them again when the two teams meet during the regular season, May 7-8 in D.C.
“I’m going to throw to the American League the same way I throw to the National League, I just won’t have to hit in half the games,” he explained, as the only difference in his approach. After a pause, he quipped, “That’s a good thing.”
While Detwiler was out facing the defending American League Champions, Gonzalez took his day off to head to Disney World. He threw on the Minor League side on Monday as he works his way back into the rotation.
With Detwiler and Gonzalez’s return, and with the starters scheduled to play more innings both at home and on the road this week, it was time on Monday morning to make the next round of cuts in camp. The Nationals optioned right-handed pitchers Erik Davis, Yunesky Maya and Ryan Perry, catcher Jhonatan Solano, infielder Chris Marrero and outfielder Corey Brown to Syracuse and reassigned right-handed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf and infielder Zach Walters to Minor League camp. The Spring Training roster now stands at 34 players heading into play against the Tigers once again on Monday.
1. Span CF
2. Werth RF
3. Harper LF
4. Zimmerman 3B
5. LaRoche 1B
6. Desmond SS
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Ramos C
9. Zimmermann RHP
2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3
2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2
2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4
2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5
2/27 vs. Miami – L, 5-1
2/28 vs. New York (NL) – T, 4-4
3/1 @ Atlanta – W, 6-5
3/2 @ St. Louis – W, 6-2
3/3 vs. St. Louis – W, 7-6
3/5 vs. Houston – W, 7-1
3/6 @ Philadelphia – L, 6-3
3/7 @ Houston – L, 4-2
3/8 vs. Cardinals – L, 16-10
3/9 vs. Marlins – W, 8-7
3/10 @ Detroit – L, 2-1
3/11 vs. Atlanta – L, 7-2
3/13 SS vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-5
3/13 SS @ Houston – W, 9-7
3/14 vs. Houston – W, 6-3
3/15 @ St. Louis – L, 5-1
3/16 vs. Houston – L, 4-2
3/17 @ Detroit – W, 12-10
Overall Record: 10-10-2
Nationals fans who attended games early in the season may remember Ryan Perry’s name and wonder why he is the subject of a Down on the Farm report. Wasn’t he, after all, a Major Leaguer already? In fact, Perry has pitched parts of the past four seasons in the big leagues, logging a 6-6 record and a 4.36 ERA over 169.1 innings pitched, all out of the bullpen. While he has showed promise since his debut as a 22 year-old back in 2009, he had yet to progress in the way that his powerful arsenal of pitches promised.
As such, Perry and the Nationals both came to the same conclusion earlier this year – perhaps it was time to give starting a shot. Often times starters from the college ranks will move into the bullpen as they reach the higher levels of the Minor Leagues. Perry, however, possesses a potent array of pitches, including a high-90s fastball to go along with his changeup and slider. It was that raw talent that led the Tigers to draft him with the 21st overall selection back in 2008. But the transition to using those weapons over 100 pitches or more, instead of simply an inning or two, required an overhaul in approach. So the 25 year-old Perry packed his bags for Double-A Harrisburg to stretch out his arm, build his workload and try to make the successful conversion to the rotation.
“I’ve been in the big leagues, but I’m still learning,” Perry reflected when we caught up with him towards the end of his Minor League season in Harrisburg back in August. “There are still many things for me to learn and to hone in on to get back there.”
Perry made 13 starts for the Senators, his 2-4 record undermining his 2.84 ERA (23 ER/73.0 IP) over that span. He allowed just three home runs, while posting an impressive 1.11 WHIP and striking out more than twice as many batters (46) as he walked (22). That was enough for the Nationals to send Perry, along with some of their top prospects, to the Arizona Fall League.
Perry has been on both sides of the success spectrum so far in the AFL. He allowed seven runs over just 5.0 innings in his first two starts, walking four while striking out five. But he rebounded to throw four perfect frames in his next start, then followed that up with five innings of one-hit ball, completing a nine-inning stretch in which he allowed just one baserunner while fanning seven.
While his overall ERA sits a shade below 5.00 at 4.98, his peripheral stats have mirrored those he put up in Double-A. With a 1.15 WHIP and a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk rate, the tall, powerful righty continues to show the type of promise the Nationals were hoping when the two sides agreed to the experiment earlier this year. Keep an eye on Perry and the rest of the Nats prospects as they wrap up their AFL schedule this week.
For those who have never worked in the media, never been a part of the process of covering a live event, a television broadcast may seem simple enough. You point a camera and you shoot. Easy, right? But what about when there are multiple angles – not two or three, more like six or seven? What about coordinating real-time instant replay with the broadcasters so they know what’s coming on the screen next? How about counting every shot down to the second to make sure all of the advertising fits into the commercial breaks? And then, on top of all that, how about doing it all in an unfamiliar venue that wasn’t built for a multi-camera, televised broadcast?
Welcome to Spring Training, and the challenge presented to the folks at MASN here in Viera. If you have the chance to take in one of the games they are televising this spring from the seats here, go ahead and count the cameras. There’s the low-first (at the end of the home dugout), the high-first (at the top of the walkway between sections 214-215), the high-third (ditto for sections 204-205), the high home (just right of center on a balcony along the top level of the ballpark), a pair of center field cameras (just to the left of the 404 mark between the flag poles and the batter’s eye), and a roving camera for scenic shots. Each camera has its own operator, all listening to a director and producer, seated inside the production truck, cleverly hidden from site behind the scoreboard on the backside of the berm in left-center field.
From the ballpark, you rarely notice anything different than a non-televised game. The cameras are largely out of view, save for the two situated on the scissor-lift in center field. But from the truck, the event is quite a production. Multiple voices talk over each other to set up each piece of each shot, from compound instant replays to motion graphics and stats overlays. Towards the end of a game that is dragging past its third hour – which all in the truck seem to agree is unnecessarily long for a Spring Training game – the jokes start to run back and forth over the intercom. And even while team members are laughing or firing back with some wit of their own, they are executing their tasks in unison, a team of 20 or more in total, working to provide a smooth, entertaining broadcast back to our fans in D.C.
The next time you watch a game, look for the shots you would choose and see if the producer follows your same line of thinking. After Ryan Zimmerman doubles to the right-center field gap (which he did again Tuesday night), which replay do you go to first? A real-time shot from center field, to highlight the swing? The high home angle, that shows the ball arc towards the gap as the fielders run after it? What next? The high-third shot as he digs around first base and cruises into second? Quick, make up your mind. If you haven’t yet, then it’s already too late.
The game that MASN broadcast Tuesday night was a 6-3 Nationals loss to the Tigers, but was not without some bright spots for Washington. Did we mention that Zimmerman is on fire right now? He finished 1-for-2 with a double, a sac fly and an RBI, and has posted a video game-like OPS of 1.874 so far this spring. Mark DeRosa drew a pair of walks in three trips to the plate, and now has more walks than hits for the spring (five to four). That is not normally the best thing to hear for a hitter, but when his batting average is .500 and his on-base percentage sits at .692, well, then it’s probably alright.
Also, Bryce Harper is back in the lineup for tonight’s game against Atlanta in Lake Buena Vista after missing a few days with a calf strain. Harper’s last game played was the last time the Nats faced Atlanta, and he is hoping to return to the form he showed the first week of games where he batted .455.
Here are the Nationals results to date:
vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0
@ Houston – L, 3-1
vs. Houston – L, 10-2
@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1
@ Atlanta – W, 5-2
vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3
vs. Houston – W, 8-0
@ Miami – L, 3-0
vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2
@ Detroit – T, 5-5
@ St. Louis – Canceled (rain)
vs. St. Louis – W, 8-4
vs. Detroit – L, 6-3
@ Atlanta – Wednesday, 6:05pm
Overall Record: 5-4-2
Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday morning of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day storylines, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.
The Nationals snagged their first win of Spring Training at the home of the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Digital Domain Park. The ballpark was reminiscent of a little slice of New York, though it still featured its share of local flavor. The team went from there to Lake Buena Vista on Tuesday to match up with the Braves for the first time this Spring, again earning a victory. Mark DeRosa flashed good early signs of progress from the wrist injury that has hampered him the past two years and everyone enjoyed some old school, live musical entertainment at the ballpark.
On Wednesday, Carlos Maldonado hit a two-run, ninth-inning home run to force a 3-3 tie with the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Living legend Peter Gammons was on hand for the baseball anomaly and lent his thoughts on the 2012 Nationals. Single game tickets went on sale to the general public at 10am Thursday, as fans lined up outside the box office in D.C. Meanwhile, the Nationals played their best game of the Spring to date, shutting out the Houston Astros by a count of 8-0. Washington finally saw its unbeaten streak come to an end at four games with a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Miami on Friday. We paid a visit to Minor League camp and got some perspective from coaches and coordinators on a number of young prospects, including pitcher Alex Meyer.
Saturday brought the first split-squad action of the spring, as the Nationals won their home game over the Mets and rallied late for their second tie of the Grapefruit League schedule, against the Tigers in Lakeland. As one of the minor leaguers called up to fill out the roster for the New York game, Michael Taylor experienced the highs and lows of professional baseball in one trip around the bases. The weekend was capped by a rainout, as Gio Gonzalez’s four scoreless innings were wiped from the record books, leading us to make a Train pun that was too easy to pass up.
Record for the week: 4-1-2 (one rainout)
One of the great parts of Spring Training is the excitement of the young players getting their first shot in a big league uniform, facing off against players they were watching on television just a couple years prior. With split-squad games (which started today, the Nationals hosting the Mets and traveling to face the Tigers), those opportunities become more abundant. Teams will take a handful of players from Minor League camp to fill out each roster, giving them an opportunity to get a few innings in. Their youthful exuberance is fun to watch, although sometimes it betrays them.
Enter Michael Taylor, one of the most talked-about young outfield prospects in the Nationals system, who came in as a defensive replacement in center field in the fifth inning of the Nationals 8-2 victory over the Mets in Viera today. He showed some nice patience in his first plate appearance, working a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth. He was then put in motion on a hit-and-run, as Sandy Leon pulled a ball perfectly through the hole vacated by the second baseman, who was covering the bag with the runner going. Taylor motored around second on his way to third, but got a little too far ahead of himself, his weight out over his front feet. Try as he might, he couldn’t stay upright, tumbling to the dirt about 50 feet shy of third base.
Mets right fielder Cesar Puello, another minor leaguer added to fill out the roster, saw the opportunity to make a play as he went to collect the ball. In fact, he saw it clearly enough that he took his eye off the ball, which he bobbled, allowing Taylor enough time to collect himself and lope down to third safely, both he and third base coach Bo Porter laughing the whole way.
“The umpire came over and was explaining to me about second base and how you have to step on it and stay on your feet,” said Taylor after the game, as his wide smile denied his attempt at deadpan humor.
Taylor will no doubt hear from his teammates about that play for the rest of camp, but he can take solace in one fact – at least this game wasn’t on television, so it’s unlikely to make him a YouTube sensation. He said that he didn’t even feel that nervous playing on a bigger stage – his body simply didn’t want to cooperate.
“I was actually kind of surprised, I was comfortable and relaxed,” Taylor said. “But for some reason my feet didn’t want to stay underneath me.”
Taylor was rewarded for continuing on to the next base, though, as players are taught to do in those situations. With runners at the corners and one out, Blake Kelso lifted a ball into right-center, where Puello redeemed himself with a nice catch. Leon had advanced almost all the way to second, and Puello fired back to first for the inning-ending double play. But Taylor made a heads-up play and tagged at third, crossing the plate before the final out was made at first base. Since the double play was not of the force out variety, the run counted. Who’s laughing now?
In other news, Ryan Zimmerman had a pair of doubles and two RBI, and Wilson Ramos also drove in a pair on two hits. Brad Lidge looked very sharp, pitching around an error and striking out the side in the sixth. The first two batters never got the bat off their shoulders on strike three, as Lidge locked up each of them with his signature slider.
Tyler Moore had a nice game as well, with two hits and an RBI. The second of his hits was a rocket to dead center field, high up off the 30-foot batters eye. Needless to say, it would have been a home run in any big league ballpark, but Moore had to settle for the RBI double.
Meanwhile, the other half of the split squad overcame a 4-0 deficit to earn a 10-inning, 5-5 tie with the Tigers.
It’s back to Jupiter tomorrow, as Washington takes on St. Louis at 1:05pm. Here are the results to date:
vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0
@ Houston – L, 3-1
vs. Houston – L, 10-2
@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1
@ Atlanta – W, 5-2
vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3
vs. Houston – W, 8-0
@ Miami – L, 3-0
vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2
@ Detroit – T, 5-5
@ St. Louis – Sunday, 1:05pm
Overall Record: 4-3-2