Results tagged ‘ Drew Storen ’
A year ago, Drew Storen and Stephen Strasburg were living the college life: attending classes, eating in the dining hall and partaking in the occasional Fraternity soirée. A year later, Storen is a key member of the Nats’ best bullpen in years and Strasburg is on the verge of making his highly anticipated Major League debut.
In the past year, the two neophyte Nats have experienced Draft Day ’09, record-setting contracts, a marriage and stops in Woodbridge, Va., Hagerstown, Md., Phoenix, Ariz., Viera, Fla., Harrisburg, Pa., Syracuse, N.Y. and finally, Washington, DC. It’s been a whirlwind tour, but neither hurler would change a thing.
At this point last year, Storen was wrapping up his sophomore year at Stanford University. He had pitched his last game as a member of the Cardinal baseball team and was preparing for finals.
“May 25 was my last outing in college and that was kind of the big one where a lot of people from the Nats were there,” Storen said. “It seems like just yesterday but it also seems like so long ago at the same time. It’s kind of crazy.”
Just a few days later, his life was turned upside down when the Nationals selected him with the 10th overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Storen signed his rookie contract the next day and was off to Single-A Hagerstown to begin his pro career.
“For me that was the right thing to do–sign quickly,” Storen said. “From college it was–’if I get the opportunity to sign, I’m going to go quick,’–because my goal was to make the Big Leagues last year. And I wanted to really try to get there quick and move. Doing that for me was signing and putting in my time and getting that experience.”
Storen dominated Minor League baseball last year, compiling 11 saves and a 1.95 ERA over 37.0 innings. He graduated through three levels of the Minors but never received that September Big League call-up that he so desperately wanted.” Being able to have those three or four months from last year, being able to build off of that coming into Spring Training, knowing what I need to do to face professional hitters, to handle the professional lifestyle was huge,” Storen said.
To read the entire story, pick up the latest edition of Inside Pitch at Nationals Park.
John Lannan is the Nationals pie guy and he didn’t disappoint last night. Drew Storen got pied twice for earning his first Major League victory–first by Scott Olsen and then by John Lannan.
You have to watch MASN reporter Debbie Taylor interview Storen. It is great.
After the game Storen tweeted, “For the record, my eyes are still watering from the shaving cream pie. Well worth it though. Glad we got the losing streak turned around.“
It is a beautiful day at the ballpark–the temperature is in the low 80′s and the sun is shining brightly. With a win tonight, the Nationals would secure their fourth straight series win at home. A win would also give the Nationals their third series win over the Mets this season alone. The Nationals have never claimed three series from the Mets in a single season before.
Here are a few more things to keep in perspective:
If you were at last night’s game, it could be the only game you ever attend where three semi-unique events all occur in one game: a pitcher recording his first Major League victory, an inside-the-park home run and a triple play. Each one by itself is semi-memorable but all three of them in the same game is magical.
Drew Storen picked up his first Major League victory and Stephen Strasburg earned the victory in his third Triple-A start. It may be a while before both pitchers earn a victory on the same night again in their careers.
Matt Capps converted his Major League leading 15th save last night, improving to 15-for-15 in save opportunities. The Nationals now have 16 saves on the season. The Nats didn’t record their 16th save last season until August 2.
1. Jose Reyes – SS
2. Alex Cora – 2B
3. Jason Bay – LF
4. Ike Davis – 1B
5. David Wright – 3B
6. Angel Pagan – CF
7. Rod Barajas – C
8. Jeff Francoeur – RF
9. John Maine – SP (1-3, 6.13 ERA)
* Angel Pagan’s inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning last night marked the first ever at Nationals Park. One inning later on defense, Pagan started an 8-2-6-3 triple play–the first triple play turned at Nationals Park.
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a team has not posted an inside-the-park homer and a triple play in the same game since September 25, 1955. Philadelphia’s Ted Kazanski hit the homer and started the triple play against the New York Giants.
1. Nyjer Morgan – CF
2. Adam Kennedy – 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B
4. Adam Dunn – 1B
5. Josh Willingham – LF
6. Ivan Rodriguez – C
7. Roger Bernadina – RF
8. Ian Desmond – SS
9. Luis Atilano – SP (3-0, 3.90 ERA)
* Drew Storen earned his first Major League win last night, tossing 0.2 scoreless innings and stranding his lone inherited runner. It was his second Big League contest. He did not earn a decision in his debut.
* In 12 of the Nationals’ last 15 games, including last night’s win, Washington’s bullpen has received the decision.
The Nationals Minor League report (
The MLR 5.12.10.pdf) is a weekly window into the Nationals farm teams, with updated standings, league leaders, team and individual player stats, and the latest team and player news.
This Week’s Top Headline
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF: Syracuse RHP Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his second Triple-A start tonight at 7:05 p.m. vs. Norfolk (Orioles). In his Triple-A debut last Friday, Strasburg fired 6.0 shutout innings of one-hit ball to earn the win. In six combined starts with Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg, he is 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA (4 ER/28.0 IP). Strasburg’s stingy .143 (14-for-98) batting average against is the second lowest in Minor League baseball among starting pitchers. Prior to joining Syracuse, he went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA (4 ER/22.0 IP) in five starts with Harrisburg.
***MASN will televise Stephen Strasburg’s 2nd Triple-A start tonight on tape delay immediately following the conclusion of the Orioles-Mariners game.
Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs
International League North Division
18-12, 1st Place, 1.0 Game Ahead
DR. DREW: In 11 combined appearances with Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg, RHP Drew Storen owns a 1.23 ERA (2 ER/14.2 IP) and a 14.0/1 strikeout-to walk ratio (14 SO, 1 BB). Since joining Syracuse on April 29, he has allowed one earned run over 5.1 innings pitched (1.69 ERA) in four appearances. Storen was Washington’s 2nd selection in the first round (10th overall) of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft and went 4-for-4 in save opportunities and recorded a 0.96 ERA (1 ER/9.1 IP) in seven appearances with Harrisburg.
JOEL THE PROPHET: RHP Joel Peralta is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA (2 ER/14.1 IP) and a .184 (9-for-49) batting average against in 12 games. His eight saves in as many opportunities are tied for second in the International League and tied fifth in Minor League baseball. The Bonao, Dominican Republic native has fanned 16 and walked three, an average of 10.29 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and only 1.93 walks per 9.0 innings. Peralta was signed by Washington as a Minor League free agent on December 15, 2009.
THRILL OF THE CHASE: 2B/3B Chase Lambin‘s .343 batting average paces Washington farmhands and ranks fourth in Minor League baseball among switch hitters. He has hit safely in nine straight games and 23 of 27 games overall. Lambin signed with Washington as a Minor League free agent on January 7, 2010.
ATA(HUALPA) BOY: Since surrendering three earned runs in 0.1 inning in his season debut, LHP Atahualpa Severino has allowed only one earned run in his last 15.0 innings (11 appearances). Overall, Severino is 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA (4 ER/15.1 IP) in 12 appearances. Severino, 25, signed as a non-drafted free agent on February 13, 2004.
Double-A Harrisburg Senators
Eastern League Southern Division
13-19, 5th Place, 7.5 Games Back
VICTOR’S SECRET: LHP Victor Garate has hurled 14.2 consecutive scoreless innings in his last 11 appearances. The 25-year-old owns a 0.57 ERA (1 ER/15.2 IP) in 12 games. His .115 (6-for-52) BAA ranks 8th among all Minor League pitchers and opposing left-handed batters are just 1-for-15 (.100) against him. Garate was acquired off waivers from Los Angeles-NL on September 2, 2009.
TOMMY BOY: Last night at Altoona (Pirates), LHP Tom Milone pitched 5.0 innings of two-run ball in sleet and snow to earn his third win of the season. In three May starts, he is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA (5 ER/16.1 IP). Overall, the 23-year-old southpaw is 3-1 with a 3.53 ERA (14 ER/35.1 IP) and a 5.0/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (30 SO/6 BB). Milone, selected in the 10th round of the ’08 Draft out of the University of Southern California and he led Washington farmhands with 12 wins last season.
START ME UP: RHP Jeff Mandel allowed two runs and three hits in 7.1 strong innings on Sunday vs. Richmond (Giants). In six starts with Harrisburg, Mandel owns a 3.82 ERA (14 ER/33.0 IP). Mandel, 25, was a 2009 Single-A Carolina League All-Star last season with Potomac and following the season, Mandel played with the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the highly-acclaimed Arizona Fall League.
Single-A Potomac Nationals
Carolina League Northern Division
14-18, 3rd Place, 6.0 Games Back
BURGESS KING: OF Michael Burgess is 15-for-44 (.341) with six doubles, three homers, 15 RBI, eight walks and eight runs in his last 12 contests. In 31 games overall, Burgess is batting .286 with 10 doubles, three home runs, 22 RBI and 20 walks. The strong-armed outfielder is third in the Carolina League with four outfield assists. Burgess is a two-time Minor League All-Star (2008, ’09) and was drafted by Washington in the sandwich round (49th overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
DR. KIMBALL: RHP Cole Kimball leads the club with three wins and is a perfect 4-for-4 in save opportunities. In 13 appearances, Kimball is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA (5 ER/18.1 IP). Left-handed hitters are just 2-for-22 (.091) against him. The 24-year-old was Washington’s 12th-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
Single-A Hagerstown Suns
South Atlantic League Northern Division
16-15, T-3rd Place, 3.5 Game Back
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES: LHP Daniel Rosenbaum struck out eight in 7.0 shutout innings of four-hit ball but received a no-decision on Monday at Augusta (Giants). In seven starts, he is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA (9 ER/40.0 IP). The 22-year old southpaw has 36 strikeouts against seven walks (5.14/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Among Single-A South Atlantic League pitchers, he ranks ninth in ERA and tied for ninth in WHIP (1.00). Rosenbaum was selected in the 22nd round of the 2009 Draft out of Xavier University (OH).
EVEN STEVEN: INF Steven Souza ranks among the South Atlantic League leaders in runs (2nd, 26), RBI (t-3rd, 26), total bases (6th, 61) and slugging percentage (8th, .530). In his last 12 games, he is 16-for-41 (.390) with four doubles, two triples, one home run, 10 RBI and 10 runs scored. He has collected six multi-hit games in those 12 contests. Souza, 21, was Washington’s 3rd-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
DESTIN(Y) IS CALLING: 20-year-old OF Destin Hood is tied for third in the league with 41 hits and ranks fourth with a .336 batting average. He has hit safely in 24 of 31 games overall. Hood was selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and opened the 2010 campaign rated as the No. 10 prospect in the Nationals chain according to Baseball America.
The Minor League Report (
The MLR.pdf) is a weekly window into the Nationals farm teams, with updated standings, league leaders, team and individual player stats, and the latest team and player news.
This Week’s Top Headline
ROSENBAUM IS A ROSENBAUM IS A ROSENBAUM IS A ROSENBAUM: In five starts for Hagerstown, LHP Daniel Rosenbaum is 1-0 with a 1.57 ERA (5 ER/28.2 IP). The 22-year old southpaw has struck out 25 and walked just five (5.0/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Among Single-A South Atlantic League pitchers, he ranks fifth in ERA and seventh in WHIP (0.94). Rosenbaum was selected in the 22nd round of the 2009 Draft out of Xavier University (OH). He is scheduled to make his next start tonight at Rome (Braves).
Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs
International League North Division
15-11, 3rd Place, 1.0 Game Back
HAIL TO THE NEW CHIEF: Yesterday, RHP Stephen Strasburg was promoted to Syracuse and is scheduled to make his Triple-A debut on Friday vs. Gwinnett (Braves). Strasburg, the top overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA (4 ER/22.0 IP) in five starts with Harrisburg of the Double-A Eastern League. With 27 strikeouts and just six walks in 22.0 innings pitched, Strasburg posted a 4.5/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and an Eastern-League best 11.05 strikeouts per 9.0 innings.
WHAT A RELIEF: Since surrendering three earned runs in 0.1 inning in his season debut on April 8 vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies), LHP Atahualpa Severino hasn’t allowed an earned run 13.1 innings. He has tossed 10.0 consecutive scoreless innings over his last six appearances beginning on April 20. Overall, Severino is 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA (3 ER/ 13.2 IP) in 10 appearances and right-handed hitters are just 4-for-28 (.143) against him this season. Severino, 25, signed as a non-drafted free agent on February 13, 2004.
DR. DREW: In nine combined appearances with Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg, RHP Drew Storen has posted a 1.50 ERA (2 ER/ 12.0 IP) while striking out 13 and walking just one. Storen, Washington’s second selection in the first round (10th overall) of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, went 4-for-4 in save opportunities and recorded a 0.96 ERA (1 ER/9.1 IP) in seven appearances with Harrisburg before his April 29 promotion to Syracuse.
DOUG E. FRESH: LHP Doug Slaten has fired 15.0 consecutive scoreless innings in 10 appearances to begin the season. The southpaw has 16 strikeouts against just one walk. Slaten was claimed off waivers from Arizona on November 4, 2009.
THRILL OF THE CHASE: 3B Chase Lambin leads the Chiefs in hits (28), batting (.333), home runs (5), RBI (15), total bases (49), and slugging (.583). He has hit safely in 19 of 23 games this season. Lambin signed with Washington as a Minor League free agent on January 7, 2010.
Double-A Harrisburg Senators
Eastern League Southern Division
10-15, 5th Place, 7.5 Games Back
THE GARATE KID: LHP Victor Garate has hurled 11.2 consecutive scoreless innings in his last eight appearances. The 25-year-old owns a 0.71 ERA (1 ER/12.2 IP) and a .140 (6-for-43) batting average against and lefties are just 1-for-10 (.100) against him. Garate was acquired off waivers from Los Angeles-NL on September 2, 2009.
CHICO MEETS WORLD: LHP Matt Chico allowed two earned runs in 6.1 innings, but received a no-decision on Monday vs. Bowie (Orioles). Chico has worked at least 5.0 innings and allowed two earned runs or less in four of his five starts this season.
PITCHING IN: Harrisburg pitching ranks second in the league in both ERA (3.12) and strikeouts (189). Senators hurlers have allowed the fewest home runs (6) and fewest walks (69) among EL pitching staffs.
Single-A Potomac Nationals
Carolina League Northern Division
11-14, 3rd Place, 4.0 Games Back
MORRIS CODE: In four starting assignments, RHP A.J. Morris boasts a 1.53 ERA (3 ER/17.2 IP) and a .197 (13-for-66) batting average against. On Monday vs. Myrtle Beach (Braves), Morris pitched 5.2 shutout innings while allowing just two hits and striking out five to earn his first win of the year. Morris, 23, was selected in the 4th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
DETECTIVE KIMBALL: RHP Cole Kimball leads the club with three wins and is a perfect 3-for-3 in save opportunities. In 10 appearances, Kimball is 3-0 with a 2.93 ERA (5 ER/15.1 IP) and left-handed hitters are just 2-for-21 (.095) against him. The 24-year-old was Washington’s 12th-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
Single-A Hagerstown Suns
South Atlantic League Northern Division
15-10, 2nd Place, 0.5 Game Back
BUILDING BLOX(OM): 1B Justin Bloxom, 22, ranks among the South Atlantic League leaders in batting average (t-2nd, .351), hits (t-3rd, 34), doubles (5th, 11), on-base percentage (6th, .413) and runs, (7th, 20). He has hit safely in 20 of 24 games, recording a multi-hit effort in 10 of those contests. The Kansas State University product was selected in the 11th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
EVEN STEVEN: 20-year-old 3B Steven Souza is tied for tops in the SAL with 23 runs, and ranks second in RBI (25). He has posted three straight multi-hit efforts, collecting seven RBI in those games. Souza was Washington’s 3rd-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
DESTIN-ED TO SUCCEED: OF Destin Hood is hitting .340 with five doubles, one triple, one homer and 15 RBI. The 20-year-old has hit safely in 19 of 25 games this season. Hood, selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, opened the 2010 campaign rated as the No. 10 prospect in the Nationals chain according to Baseball America.
As we said before in The Storen Identity, Drew Storen might not be Jason Bourne but he is special. He can’t fend off 30 people at once, dodge bullets or drive a car like Jeff Gordon during a high speed chase while weaving in and out of oncoming traffic. Well, he might be able to do all that… he doesn’t know. He hasn’t tried. He won’t need to if he continues to sit batters down the same way Bourne puts bad guys on their back. They are one in the same, two people extremely good at what they do. Storen saves games and Bourne saves humanity.
The 22 year-old is now pitching for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. He picked up the save in Stephen Strasburg’s first start on Sunday–it won’t be the last time. He has been Storen the Stopper so far this season, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts in three games. We will be sure to keep you updated on the tenth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft because it won’t be long before he’s pitching in Washington.
The team record isn’t what you would prefer (1-6) but how has the first week been?
“It’s gone well. The three appearances have gone well and getting the save and the win with Strasburg was pretty awesome. I feel good. The arm feels good. I’m happy with the way I started. I’m happy with the way that Spring Training panned out. My body’s in good shape and I’m happy.”
You and Strasburg have formed a friendly bond and it had to be cool to pick up the save for him.
“It was cool…and honestly, I didn’t even think about it when I went into the game. It wasn’t something I realized until somebody asked me after the game, ‘Hey…What was it like saving Strasburg’s first game?’ and I was just like, ‘Oh…oh yea.’ It was like an afterthought, just because I was just thinking, ‘I need to save this game…make sure I go out there and throw well.’ I wasn’t really too concerned with it. Now looking back, I’m glad but I just go out there, and regardless of who pitched, if it’s a close game or a blow out, I try to go out there and do the same thing and hopefully try to get the same result.”
Last year, you experienced the Minor Leagues after you were drafted. Have you made it your responsibility to take Strasburg under your wing to teach him the ways of the Minor Leagues?
“I’ve been trying to but a lot of it has to do with stuff outside the lines. Different things like… How many bags to pack and stuff like that. You know, he doesn’t really need much help other than that. Everything else is pretty basic. It’s not too much to learn. It honestly comes down to the travel stuff at this point but anything I can help him with, I try to.”
Have you taught him any good pointers for the long bus trips?
“I told him about my inflatable pool raft.”
The one you guys lie down and sleep on in the aisle.
“Yeah, but I don’t know if there would be enough room for two of us, so I want to make sure that he doesn’t do that.”
Yeah you don’t want to leave yourself sitting in an uncomfortable chair.
“Exactly, I don’t want to help him out and then have to lean myself up against the window.”
Numbers alone it seems like your climb through the Minors has been–for the most part–smooth sailing, has there been a frustrating part?
“Of course. When I first got signed and got to Hagerstown, I was kind of getting hit around a little bit. I had to make that adjustment to pro ball and realize how I needed to pitch. I guess the big thing is that I needed to make adjustments. That was the thing I learned. Since then, I’ve done well because I keep my eyes and ears open and listen and make those adjustments to get guys out. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had–I don’t know if I would say smooth sailing because it’s been up and down for me–but overall, I’m happy with the way things have progressed.”
In the Majors you know everything about every player, how are the scouting reports on players in the Minors?
“A lot of it is just word of mouth. A lot of guys have played with these guys or played against them, so they know what to do. For me, I just have to stick with my strengths. My fastball, curveball, slider combination. I’ll watch during the game and I kind of get to cheat a little bit because I get to see other pitchers pitch to these guys, so I can kind of read off that.”
Have you talked to your friend Toby Gerhart lately about the NFL draft? I am still convinced Storen and Toby Gerhart are brothers–the star running back at Stanford who finished second in the Heisman voting.
“No I haven’t. I need to though. I need to call him and catch up with him, but I assume he has a couple other things on his plate.”
Did you see his performance at the combine?
“No I did not. I just got to see his numbers though.”
I was going to say, you saw his 4.5 40 and his 38-inch vertical jump?
“Yeah, that’s pretty unbelievable.”
And 22 reps at 225. I mean, this guy is a beast.
“Yeah I could do that easily. I don’t see what the big deal is.”
I take it you taught him how to be athletic.
“I think if you talk to him, he would give a lot of the credit to his athletic success, especially his football skills, to me.”
He could probably jump over you.
“Oh easily. He could jump over me or run through me.”
I would bet money that you could tackle him without a problem.
“I’m pretty excited to see what’s going to happen with him. And he deserves it all, that’s for sure.”
· The Nats wrapped up opening week with back-to-back wins against the Mets. The Nats are .500 for the first time since April 5, 2008 after a 5 RBI day by Josh Willingham and a brilliant pitching performance by Livan Hernandez. The Hammer hit a grand slam in the top of the first off of Johan Santana–originally ruled a triple only to be overturned by instant replay. It was Willingham’s fifth grand slam of his career and the first since he became the 13 player to hit two in one game on July 27 last season at Milwaukee. According to the Elias Sports Bureau… “Willingham’s first slam was for the Marlins on Aug. 11, 2007 off the Mets’ Guillermo Mota at Shea Stadium. No player has hit bases-loaded homers at both Shea and Citi Field for the Mets, but Willingham and Albert Pujols have done so as visitors.”
· Stephen Strasburg earned his first professional victory, leading the Harrisburg Senators to a 5-4 win over the Altoona Curve. Strasburg’s final line was: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. He threw 82 pitches, 55 for strikes.
“I definitely was super excited,” Strasburg said. “There definitely was a lot of anticipation for this outing. I went out there, from the get-go, I knew I was moving a little too quick out there. I had the adrenaline pumping. I was able to settle down and keep the team in the ballgame. Lucky enough, the bats came alive.”
· Drew Storen closed out the first game for Stephen Strasburg and earned his first save of the season.
“I don’t want to be the guy blowing his first win,” Storen said. “Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time for me doing that.”
· Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore writes Scott Olsen will replace Garrett Mock in the Nationals rotation and will start the Thursday game in Philadelphia.
· ESPN’s Keith Law’s take on Strasburg’s Double-A Debut–Insider only.
“Strasburg’s velocity was incredible; he hit 99 with his first pitch and reached that mark two other times in the third inning. He didn’t throw a fastball under 97 until the fourth. Over his final two innings, he was 94-97, although he threw several pitches in the 94-96 range that had the slight tail of a two-seam fastball. His fastball command wasn’t great, although that may have been more a function of situation than inability to locate. His best, most consistent pitch was his curveball, 78-83 mph with incredibly sharp two-plane break and a downward finish, and he threw it for strikes most of the day. His worst pitch was, as before, his changeup, still a work in progress, although he threw several that were plus in the 87-88 mph range with hard downward tail; he overthrew several changeups, some as hard as 92, and didn’t locate the pitch well, throwing many (if not most) below the zone.”
· Wall Street Journal’s Robert Costa sat down with Nationals season ticket holder and Pulitzer Prize writer George F. Will to talk about everything and anything baseball related.
“In baseball, if you’re a terrific young athlete, you’re going to spend some time on a bus, going from Laramie to Carlsbad,” Will said. “If you go to Ohio State and they make you into a running back, you’re able to go straight into the NFL. Or in college basketball, it’s one and done–you have a great year and then you’re rich, really rich. Baseball remains a humbling game, and partly because of that I think it’s still a pretty admirable slice of young American manhood.”
The Sunshine state definitely didn’t get its nickname on a day like today. The spring showers delayed the start of practice for the pitchers and catchers but it wasn’t too long before the sun appeared. Half the pitchers and catchers played long toss and the other half stretched on the main field. There were a handful of position players taking ground balls–Nyjer Morgan showed he could be a solid first baseman.
There is definitely an interesting contrast between work and play at Spring Training. For the most part, the veteran players know what they have to do to be ready when the season starts. Pitcher Craig Stammen said if you enter the Spring in-shape it is pretty easy. The younger players are just trying to soak it all in, ask questions and try to claim the few remaining roster spots. Spring Training is like the first 15 minutes of an NFL practice: stretching, drills and tossing the ball.
“Practice is pretty laid back,” Craig Stammen said. “This is about as hard as the first half of practice during high school football.”
“Spring Training is the best part of the year,” Willy Taveras said. “You practice in the morning and then you are done.”
“It was surprising to see how early the veteran guys get here and how hard they work,” Drew Storen said. “It’s not something I really expected and it’s something I learned from.”
To say it is easy would imply anyone could do it. To say it is exhausting would be an exaggeration. It’s hard and easy at the same time–hard just to make it to camp, even harder to make it out and easy compared to running a marathon. Of course, everything is easy expect for what is difficult. Then again, to say anything is easy in baseball is a lie. What’s the easiest thing to do in baseball? I bet you were thinking… “Laying down a bunt.” Don’t be fooled. I just took a crash course in bunting from Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein and realized there is nothing easy about it. Even if you properly position yourself, the thought of a 95 mph fastball in on the hands can leave a grown man’s pants wet.
“Everything looks easy on TV,” Eckstein said.
Don’t be fooled.
Line of the day:
”Is it ok if I keep my shirt off for the interview?” the always funny and far from flashy Eddie Guardado said to a TV reporter. “You know everybody would like that.”
It’s always interesting to see the numbers everyone is wearing. A lot of atypical baseball numbers make the way out of the wood work to accommodate the large number of players at camp. Thankfully they disappear when the season starts. Collin Balester is wearing No. 99 but he is game for rocking that number the whole season. Nats top catching prospect Derek Norris is wearing No. 62. Storen wore No. 26 for his introductory press conference, No. 17 in the AFL and now he is wearing No. 58. When he makes it to the Majors, don’t count on him wearing No. 58 and he won’t be wearing No. 26 now that Jesus Flores has claimed his rights to that number.
“I don’t know about the number 26 but hopefully something a little skinnier so it makes me look bigger,” Storen said. “These big numbers make me look skinny. I need to find a slimmer number but as long as I have a Nationals jersey on it doesn’t really matter.”
Livo is back:
Livan Hernandez is a member of the Washington Nationals yet again. He rejoins the Nationals after going 9-12 with a 5.44 ERA in 31 starts last season with the Nats and Mets. After winning seven games in 23 starts for the Mets, Hernandez signed with the Nationals on August 25, and in eight starts, finished 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA in his second stint in DC. Hernandez recorded 18 quality starts in 31 assignments (58%) last season, including six in eight outings with Washington.
Notes from NatsTown is blogging from the bus throughout the Nationals’ 2010 Winter Caravan.
It is day two of the Nats Caravan and for a complete rundown of day one you can scroll down or click here.
Day two will be just as busy as yesterday. We will begin with a lunchtime appearance at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. The bus will then travel to Fort Belvoir, Va., site of the USO of Metropolitan Washington. The group will spend two hours assembling care packages for troops overseas, and meeting with wounded warriors and those stationed at the base. The final stop of the day will be an autograph and photograph session at Pfitzner Stadium, home of the Potomac Nationals–the Nat’s Single-A affiliate.
11:24 a.m.–We have officially got the wheels turning on the bus.
We have the same crew on the bus today: Manager Jim Riggleman, reliever Ryan Speier, 2009 first round draft pick Drew Storen, shortstop Danny Espinosa and broadcaster Rob Dibble.
Nationals President Stan Kasten and GM Mike Rizzo aren’t on the bus but they will be a Ben’s.
11:35 a.m.–In preparation for Ben’s Chili Bowl, the guys are signing player cards to hand out. Dibble is trying to master the science of signing on a bus–the slightest bump feels like the biggest pothole–he has decided just to sign when the bus is stopped.
11:49 a.m–We just passed One Fitness on the corner of S St. NW and 14 St. NW. Their motto is “Change your body… Change your world.” We couldn’t help but think about Globo Gym from the movie Dodgeball… “We are better than you and we know it.”
11:52 a.m.–There is a long line of people waiting outside BCB. Someone suggests that the players go through the back door. “We will go through the front door,” Dibble said. “I will lead the way.”
11:57 a.m.–It turns out that the line of people were students waiting for a school bus.
12:15–The players ordered their food and then handed out player cards. Let’s just say Ben’s makes the batter’s box look big.
12:18–Everyone was trying to get a photo with the players.
12:19–A minute after the photo was taken, the lady dropped her phone. It sounded like it shattered into a million pieces… maybe the case just broke but it looked rough. “It’s fine,” she said. “I drop my phone all the time. The photo is safe.”
12:25–The players were asked to take their jerseys off while they eat. They are professional baseball players… not professional eaters.
12:47–The Nats will soon have a photo on the wall to join the likes of Bill Crosby, Dr. Dre, Chris Rock, President Obama and Dave Chappelle just to name a few. Don’t mind Jamie from Myth Busters in the back of the photo.
12:53–Party in the kitchen.
12:56–It was the guys first stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl. There is a good chance they will be back. “Food was pretty good. It was good Chili,” Espinosa said. “I wasn’t going to eat a lot of it because we are going on the bus.” Thank you.
12:59–We are off to Fort Belvoir.
1:53–We are here.
1:59–The players are getting a tour of the warehouse and then they are going to help put together care packages. Owners Mark Lerner and Judy Lenkin Lerner are here too.
2:06–The care package process has begun. The packages have everything: pens, shaving cream, razors, trail mix, beef jerky, books, magazines and much more. You name it and it’s probably in there. The assembly line they have going on right now would have impressed the late Henry Ford.
The USO warehouse has four parties like this a month at Fort Belvoir and they travel all around the States to make care packages too.
“It is such a morale boost for the troops to have the Nationals players come here,” Director of Operation USO Care Package Ron Wise said. “I really hope they get to see and understand the impact they are making. They are so important. The troops will talk about this for months and it really speaks volume for the Nationals organization.”
2:20–The stuffing party is in full force. The first bell rang. They ring the bell every time 500 care packages have been made. When the bell rings everyone starts screaming and dancing so the troops know we care.
2:44–Second bell rings.
3:09–Third bell rings.
3:15–Fourth bell rings. I told you Henry Ford would be proud of this assembly line. Ok… so it might have been premature.
3:33–The crew just finished packing the bags. Total count: 2,025 packages. Not a bad day at all but we didn’t quite set the record. They most packages they have made in one day… 15,000 with the help of 300 people. “It was pure insanity,” Wise said. “I don’t think we will ever match that.”
4:00–We are off to Woodbridge.
4:45–We are here at the P-Nats stadium. I don’t think Storen or Espinosa could be happier to return.
5:30–The pens and hands are ready for 2 hours and 30 minutes of autographs. Screech has been stretching his fingers and practicing his signature all day.
6:11–Screech is putting on a mascot clinic–making fans laugh, posing for pictures and signing autographs.
It may have been a loaded question when I asked the crowd if they have ever seen a mascot as funny…but they answered it correctly and that’s all that mattered. “I haven’t,” one person said. “Not even close,” said another person, “he is hilarious.”
30 seconds later… A season ticket holder for just about every sports team in Washington asked Screech if he was going to be skating at the Caps game tomorrow night. He whistled yes and then she reminded him that SlapShot (the Caps Mascot) took him down last season.
“The Caps mascot has bulked up my friend, bulked up,” she said. “You better watch out tomorrow night. We are going to have to see how many times you end up on the ice Screech.”
Game on SlapShot.
7:25–I just met Robert Probst from Dover, Del. He drove 122 miles to attend tonight’s event. I told him he unofficially drove the most miles to come here.
“What do I get for that,” he asked.
I told him I could probably hook him up with a pocket schedule.
“I can’t contain my excitement,” he responded with a bright smile.
8:00–Day two is in the books and the USO event was the most memorable.
“The USO stuff was great,” Dibble said. “I have a new appreciation for the care packages they send out.”
“It was a great time,” Storen said. “It is always good to give back to the Military since they do so much for us.”
Notes from NatsTown is blogging from the bus throughout the Nationals’ 2010 Winter Caravan. Be sure to follow us.
10:20 a.m.–The Caravan is off. We just left Nationals Park.
On the bus today: Manager Jim Riggleman, reliever Ryan Speier, 2009 first round draft pick Drew Storen, shortstop Danny Espinosa and Rob Dibble.
10:30 a.m.–We just picked up Storen, Espinosa and Dibble at the Hyatt Hotel and we are off to our first stop…
Our first stop is at Unity Health Care’s Southwest Health Center, a health clinic that serves all District residents regardless of ability to pay. In December, Nationals front office employees helped refurbish and repaint the center in late December. The players will greet staff and patients at the clinic and deliver new books for the waiting room.
10:39 a.m.–We just arrived at the Health Center.
10:59 a.m.–Chair of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Marla Lerner Tanenbaum kicked off the official start of the Caravan at the Health Center.
11:01 a.m.–Marla just mentioned how when the Nationals refurbished the Health Center in December, they were divided into two groups: a group that knew what they were doing (The Ballpark Ops) and a group that didn’t know what they were doing (Other Front Office staff… the painters).
For not knowing what they were doing, they did a great job painting.
11:15 a.m.–The players delivered books and helped stack them on the shelves.
11:20 a.m.–They handed out some Nats gear, signed some autographs and Screech made an appearance.
“It was a great first stop for the Caravan,” Storen said. “It is always good to help people out and hopefully make their day.”
11:45 a.m.–We just departed the Health Center and we are heading to Hard Times CafÃ©.
12:03–The bus just arrived at Hard Times. The Fab-Five will start signing at 1. That’s 57 minutes from now if you are counting… so they are now going to enjoy a scrumptious Hard Times meal.
12:51–The food at Hard Times was delicious. The plate of nachos could have fed a city. A few tidbits from lunch…
*Speier’s favorite player growing up was Rob Dibble.
*Storen thinks the Colts will win the Super Bowl.
12:54–Players start signing in six minutes and there is already a nice size crowd waiting to get autographs.
1:04–State of the Nats-Jim Riggleman and Rob Dibble thanked the crowd for coming and talked about the upcoming 2010 season.
1:25–The Donkey made an appearance and got a few autographs. You maybe have seen him before… he went to over half the games dressed as a donkey last season. “We went to one of the first games last year and my friend and I noticed they needed some crazy fans,” he said. “So my friend and I sewed together the donkey costume.” They sat in Section 236 so they could take advantage of the student discount. He spent the whole season trying to get Adam Dunn to acknowledge him. As you can imagine, he was unsuccessful… maybe in 2010 Dunn-key.
2:23–We were talking about nicknames and how Adam Dunn doesn’t like being called “Big Donkey”… Danny Espinosa said he doesn’t really have a nickname. Storen interrupted and said everyone calls him Espy. Storen said he has never had a nickname but if he opened up a storage company he would call it Storen Stuff. “Or you could call it Storen Space,” Dibble added.
2:41–The bus arrived at the mall for the 5 p.m. appearance at Build-A-Bear. A camera crew will be following Storen and Espinosa around as they shop. Storen said if anyone asks why they are being taped he will tell them…”We are from Jersey Shore.” Good thing there is a Jersey Shore nickname generator… Drew Storen… “D-Train.”
2:42–Storen jokingly suggests that each player wears their jersey while walking around the mall. “Do you guys have a Strasburg jersey I can wear?,” Storen said laughing.
4:47–The crew is ready to meet-and-greet fans at Build-A-Bear. There is a line forming of Nats fans waiting for autographs from the players. T-minus 13 minutes till they get to build a bear.
5:01–Let the autographs begin.
5:03–Screech has a thing for high fives to the face. He wouldn’t tell me why.
5:33–You can’t go to Build-A-Bear and not build a bear. It is like going to a baseball game and not eating a hot dog.
5:39–This might have been the highlight of the night. Apparently, each bear needs a heart with a heartbeat to live… so to create that heartbeat each bear owner must do the following with a heart squeezed in their hands…
5 seconds later… spin around three times.
10 seconds later… jump three times or just stand on your tip toes.
20 seconds later… do three push-ups… with Screech pressing down on your back.
5:41–The “beating” hearts were placed inside the bears and they were all stitched up.
7:06–Day one is done.
7:25–On the drive back to the ballpark, we started talking about Dibble’s career. Who was the hardest out? “Every batter was always the toughest out,” Dibble said. So we checked the numbers… How about Pedro Guerrero (batted .455 (5-for-11) with 7 RBI) and Juan Samuel (batted .415 (5-for-12) with one home run and 7 RBI)? “Yeah, I never could get them out,” he said with a cringe.