Results tagged ‘ Mark D. Lerner ’
I am writing to you from my office at Space Coast Stadium on another picturesque day in Viera. Sorry, I know you’re all facing some pretty tough weather back in D.C. We just wrapped up Day 4 of our Pitchers and Catchers workouts and the full squad is just about complete. The position players will all report by this evening, get their physicals tomorrow, and on Thursday we’ll get them all out on the field together for the first time.
— Spring Training is one of my favorite times of year. It’s always so great to see everyone after the long winter. I truly enjoy hearing what our players did in the offseason, how their families have grown – some got married, or had children – or any of the interesting things they did in the time they were away. It’s a little like the first day of school. But way more fun.
I ran into Ryan Zimmerman in the hall outside the clubhouse just this morning. He looks great and is truly enjoying preparing to be our first baseman.
It’s also always fun to see who has worked hard all winter to grow their hair out – Anthony Rendon and Ian Desmond are leading this category right now – or who has been experimenting with a new facial hair look. You’ve all seen Danny Espinosa, right? Yosemite Sam, as we call him — just one of the names they’ve come up with in the clubhouse.
— We’ve now seen the pitchers all go through two rounds of bullpen sessions. And all that’s done for me is solidify how excited I am to see these guys compete this season. To stand in the bullpen and watch Max Scherzer throwing next to Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez throwing next to Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen side-by-side with Matt Thornton – I could go on all day. It’s tantalizing to watch, and to think about what is to come.
It’s also been great to see guys like Dan Uggla and Heath Bell in camp. That these players, with such accomplished resumes, are here in our camp as Non-Roster Invites speaks to our depth. Both players have arrived in tremendous shape – Heath Bell told me he’s lost 40 pounds and participated in two triathlons this winter – and I look forward to seeing what they will do during the Grapefruit League season. You never know how much of an impact their veteran presence can have on a club. We’re happy to welcome them to our team.
— I know I’m not the only one enjoying these workouts. It’s been wonderful to see so many of our fans lining the fences and taking the front-row-seat offered to them at Spring Training. The turnout has been fantastic and there really aren’t many better pro sporting experiences. The access for fans during Spring Training
workouts is really unparalleled. There’s no better opportunity to see these guys up-close-and-personal, and no better opportunity to get that autograph you’ve been seeking. Our guys have been signing each day after the workout. Nothing like the smile on a young fan’s face after they’ve received a prized autograph. There’s still plenty of time to plan a quick trip down here!
— Another part of Spring Training I really enjoy is that it’s a great time for me to catch up on all the movies I’ve missed. I enjoyed watching Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins battle it out on Twitter over their Oscars predictions earlier this week, and I got a chance to see American Sniper myself last night. Bradley Cooper was tremendous. I highly recommend it.
I also want to give a shoutout to our great staff at our complex here at Space Coast Stadium. They do a tremendous job, and we’re very lucky to have such wonderful people working for us and working to make the experience for everyone here so positive.
— We are thrilled that we’ll be welcoming ESPN’s SportsCenter here on Sunday morning, and really looking forward to them broadcasting LIVE from our camp all day. I know how eager our fans back in D.C. are to see these guys and for us to get back up north, so hopefully this will help make a cold Sunday morning that much warmer! Be sure to tune in!
— I want to personally congratulate our manager, Matt Williams, on having his option picked up for the 2016 season. Matt has done a tremendous job thus far and we are honored to have him guiding our players. The pride he takes in playing the game the right way and in helping our players reach their full potential is outstanding. I am really looking forward to watching him as he continues to lead.
Well, that’s about all for now. Don’t forget that single-game tickets are already on sale. While I’m already looking forward to the Grapefruit League opener on March 5, Opening Day will be here before we know it!
Until next time,
Well, the month we’ve been staring at on the calendar all winter has finally arrived! It’s February, and that means our guys will be filing into our Spring Training complex in Viera soon and pitchers and catchers officially report in just two weeks.
— It has been great to watch Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo and his staff work this offseason to put together our team for 2015. We were confident in all of the talent we had returning, but once again we feel like we’re in a great position entering Spring Training with the additions Mike has made.
— The most significant addition we made this offseason, of course, was signing 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. What an exciting day it was here at the ballpark on January 21st as we introduced Max to D.C. We couldn’t be more ecstatic to have installed him in a rotation that – quite honestly – is just filled with aces. Moreover, we are enamored with Max’s entire package: the player he is and the immense talent he possesses is obvious, but the person he is in the clubhouse and in the community is a large part of what made him a fit for us, too. He is a very special player and person.
I think Jayson Werth said it best. After he listened from the front row of the press conference to why Max decided the Nationals were the team for him, he told the Washington Post: “It was a very proud moment for me. The team that I believed in and decided to play for, and all the reasons of why I wanted to come here, were all about winning. Here we are a few years later, we have attracted the No. 1 free-agent pitcher, one of the nastiest pitchers in all of baseball, and we’ve attracted this guy in probably the biggest year of the franchise, especially in my contract, and it made me smile. As soon as he said that, it hit home. It was so relevant to me. I’ve been through that. But not in the same context. It was a proud moment. I was proud to be a Nat.”
I think we all were.
— On the other side of the excitement we all have for our new additions, like Max, there were a few fond farewells we bid this offseason, too. It will be strange to see our players lineup on Opening Day without Tyler Clippard and Adam LaRoche among them. I am thrilled that both players will continue their careers in great situations – Tyler as a key reliever for the Oakland Athletics, and Adam playing first base and DH-ing for the Chicago White Sox – and I am so thankful for all that both players did for our team, our fanbase, and our community. When we discuss the ideal type of players that we’d like to shape our team Tyler and Adam check all the boxes. They, and their families, were wonderful contributors to our organization and they won’t soon be forgotten.
And we will no doubt miss the contributions of Drake LaRoche as well! A constant, smiling presence in our clubhouse, Drake was a great reminder to us all, every day, what it is about this game that we love. He’s a wonderful young man, and I’m certain we’ll be seeing his name on draft boards in the next few years!
— I hope you all are looking forward to our 10th Anniversary season as much as I am. I am not exaggerating when I tell you we have some absolutely wonderful things in store as we celebrate a full decade of history here in D.C.
I’m sure you’ve all been keeping an eye on our 10 Days of Teddy initiative going on right now, with everyone’s favorite Racing President, Teddy, helping to unveil some of the fantastic 10-Year promotional items we’ll be giving away at the ballpark this year – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg on our plans. Stay tuned throughout the season as we look back, and revel in all that has transpired since baseball returned to our city.
— It was wonderful to see so many of you at NatsFest, which was held on December 13th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. NatsFest is hands down one of my favorite days of the offseason, getting to see and interact with so many of our great fans, as well as getting a chance to see the whole team together in the offseason. The excitement for baseball in this town is evident, and it’s especially nice to see on a cold winter day. This year’s event was no different, and as it seems every year, it topped everything that had come before it. Can’t wait to see what next year’s event will have in store for our fans!
— Starting with the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, which was just a spectacular event from start to finish and a wonderful showcase of our ballpark (and the Caps won, 3-2!), 2015 has already been such an exciting year for the organization.
That continued on Wednesday as we were honored to have new Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred visit our Partnership Summit at the ballpark and tour our Youth Baseball Academy. Youth baseball and softball is one of theinitiatives the new commissioner is most passionate about, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of bringing the game to disadvantaged youths in D.C. We’re very proud of the Youth Baseball Academy, and look forward to all it can do for our community going forward.
It is, of course, a big change for baseball to have its first new commissioner in 22 years, but I look forward to what the commissioner will bring to the game as we all work toward keeping America’s pastime thriving.
— Well, it is certainly about that time. Soon my wife, Judy, and I will begin the trek down to Florida for what is one of our favorite times of the year: Spring Training. And it does appear that our favorite time of year may be taking place in a new location in a few short years. We are very happy with all the progress that has been made toward finding a new Spring Training site in Palm Beach County, along with the Houston Astros, and are hopeful we will be able to keep the longstanding tradition of Spring Training baseball on Florida’s east coast alive and well for many years to come. I look forward to showing fans what the facility will look like. Hint… It’s awesome!
I can’t wait to see what 2014 NL Manager of the Year Matt Williams has in store for his second camp. If the first was any indication, I know it will be a well-run, no-nonsense Spring and our players will be more than ready when Opening Day rolls around.
Until next time,
- It’s been great to be back talking baseball with Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo and his staff as we look forward to 2015 and focus on building our club for another 162-game — and beyond — challenge. That’s not to say that we’ve pushed 2014 out of our minds. I still haven’t recovered from the abrupt end to our season — but it has only served to fuel Mike, manager Matt Williams, and the rest of our organization to put together another great team so we can make another run at a World Series championship next season.
- The task in front of Mike and his staff is not an easy one. As an organization, and with Mike at the helm, we’ve always taken the approach that we must focus on improving our ballclub for the immediate, and long-term, future. That’s never been more important than now, as we enter a new situation for our team with many of our young, talented players having reached the Major Leagues at the same time, and obviously now potentially reaching free agency at the same time. But the way Mike has built the organization the last several years, depth has been of extreme importance and that allows us to be in a position where building our team — for 2015 and beyond — can mean that anything can happen. That’s one thing I always love about the Winter Meetings in particular: the excitement, anticipation and buzz in the air. Everyone is curious to see what each team will do, and where free agents will land.
- For us, the Winter Meetings are also a chance to get our entire baseball operations department together, and especially all of our professional scouts, for really the only time all year. It’s always so great to catch up, meet some of the new people that we’ve brought into the organization, and have so many wonderful baseball minds in the same room. Our front office staff has been working all year to prepare for this week, and it’s exciting when the ideas really start bouncing around the room.
- I’d be remiss if I talked all about the excitement of this week without mentioning NatsFest this Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. We are so thrilled to be bringing NatsFest back into the District and back at the Convention Center.This is always one of my favorite events of the offseason. It’s always so wonderful to see all of our players after a few weeks apart, and of course to get a chance to interact with all of you, our great fans. I know, from all of the planning that has gone into it, that this will no doubt be our best NatsFest yet. From the new games and programs they’ve been prepping to the new space that we’ll be utilizing inside the convention center, I just can’t wait to get there on Saturday morning and to enjoy a full day of Nationals spirit with all of you.
I look forward to seeing you all soon and think NatsFest will be the perfect kickoff to the holiday season.
I hope everyone is dealing well with this cold and wintry week here in the Nation’s Capital. When it gets cold like this, I usually calculate the days remaining until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training (21 days!). This week is a bit different as we are just hours away from NatsFest.
- Just as a reminder, NatsFest is on Saturday, January 25, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. New venue. We hope you can join us. I am so excited to welcome Matt Williams and an impressive roster of players to DC. Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez, Tyler Clippard, et al. Come early, stay warm, talk baseball.
- We are also expecting a special visit from arguably our most beloved Nationals alum, … Livan Hernandez. Livan, who threw the first pitch in the history of the Nationals, completed his 17-year big league career in 2012 with 178 wins, 44 of which came as a member of the Nationals. It will be fantastic to sit down and catch up with Livan.
- Speaking of Livan, it will be fun to have another inaugural-season National in camp with us upon arrival in Viera. In case you missed it, we signed infielder Jamey Carroll earlier this month and he’ll be competing for a spot on Matt Williams’ bench. Jamey also played for the Expos, so he should have some interesting perspective on how far this organization has come as we enter our 10th season in Washington.
- As we reach the late stages of the offseason, I think it is worth remembering that most of Mike Rizzo’s key moves came quite early: Doug Fister, Nate McLouth, Jerry Blevins. Mike and his crew are still hard at work searching for the right fits. Always looking to improve.
- We recently signed four-year Player Development Contracts with both Triple-A Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg. Through the years, we have really valued our relationships with the Chiefs, Senators and their respective fan bases. There is a sense of organizational satisfaction in being able to establish roots in both Syracuse and Harrisburg.
- I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Frank Ceresi, who passed away recently. For those that are not aware, Frank played an integral role in developing the art program that we collectively enjoy at Nationals Park. He was an enormous baseball/Nationals fan and he will be sorely missed.
I hope to see everyone on Saturday at NatsFest.